Do you ever feel like you are constantly rushing from place to place, obligation to obligation, and project to project? Does it sometimes feel like if you took a break, you would fall even farther behind and never be able to catch up? Are you getting by on sheer determination and a lot of caffeine?
We hope you can slow down long enough to read this blog entry. We want to make the case that taking a break is essential for your mental health. Give us just a few minutes, and we will give you something to think about—and maybe convince you that breaks are an essential part of protecting your physical and mental well-being while also actually supporting your overall productivity.
We’ll look at several kinds of breaks and how they can support your mental health.
The Hourly Break
You can find lots of advice out there about how you might arrange your work day so that it includes taking breaks. Some of that advice is remarkably specific, but there is a pretty simple general principle to keep in mind. Taking a few minutes several times a day (even every hour if your schedule allows) to step away from your work actually tends to increase your overall productivity.
Taking a quick break from time to time gives you a chance to clear your head and return to a project with a fresh eye.
The Lunch Break
Be honest: How often are you eating at your desk—or not eating at all? The lunch break is important for a number of reasons.
First, if you commit yourself to taking a break for a midday meal, you are likely to give your productivity a boost for the afternoon. Second, a regular break for lunch gives you an opportunity to make good food choices—likely better choices than you might make if you graze on snacks at your desk throughout the day. Third, a lunch break can provide time for a quick walk or mindfulness exercise, for regular socializing with others, or just for turning your attention to something other than your to-do list.
The Weekend Break
Do you have a side gig that eats into your weekends? Do you use every moment of Saturday and Sunday to catch up on household chores or to tackle projects around the house? Do you find yourself feeling guilty if you are not doing something productive—maybe even going into the office—over the weekend?
If so, you are not alone. But finding ways to build some real relaxation into your weekend is a good way to manage stress and support your mental health. It might take some practice to relearn how to relax. You may even have to put relaxing activities into your schedule to convince yourself to pursue them. But the mental health benefits of doing so are real.
A Good Night’s Sleep
So many of us don’t take sleep nearly seriously enough. We stay up way too late (perhaps because we are engaged in revenge bedtime procrastination). We sleep irregular hours—and not enough of them. We don’t create the conditions for restful sleep.
At the same time, most of us know that getting enough quality sleep could lead to big improvements in our mental and physical health. Approaching sleep with intention is among the best ways to firm up the foundation of your mental well-being.
When was the last time you took a vacation? If you are like many people, it has been a while. Or maybe you are pretty good at taking time off, but tend to spend that time checking your email or working on projects because you are afraid to fall too far behind (or afraid that your boss and coworkers will think you are a slacker).
But a vacation is a powerful wellness tool. Giving yourself the chance to reset and recharge is good for you. And it is important to remember that a vacation does not have to be fancy or expensive. Taking a sustained period of time off simply to rest and focus on things you enjoy has plenty of benefits.
Take a Break from Your Busy Schedule to Support Your Mental Health
Sometimes people don’t take care of themselves because they feel too busy to do so. But that is not a particularly sustainable approach to life. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, a trauma-based disorder, or other mental health difficulties, the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek out treatment.
At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health in Colorado, we offer personalized mental health treatment grounded in our recognition that each individual has unique needs. We are committed to evidence-based practices, and we have the expertise, experience, and empathy necessary to help you improve your mental health and maintain those improvements over time.