What Are Mental Health Breaks, and Why Should You Be Taking Them?

As a country, we work too hard. We do not require paid leave for employees on a national level, so it’s up to employers to give their staff the time off they need. Unfortunately, that means many of us are not getting the breaks we need from the typical work week. And the weekend is not usually enough, since weekends can be just as busy as workdays if you need to catch up on chores, make time for family, and run errands. If this lack of personal time sounds familiar, then it’s time to introduce yourself to the mental health break—a time to check out from your normal obligations and simply unwind. This might take the form of a full vacation, or it could just be a couple hours a week at home without any chores on your plate. Either way, your brain and body both need the time off for the sake of your mental health.

Your brain needs a break from stress.

Even if you love your job, it might be a source of stress—especially if you are the type to put in more than 40 hours in a week. That stress piles up, and you may start to feel it in the form of depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. In any job, you should work to find a work-life balance that lets you still be yourself and enjoy activities outside of your professional obligations, since this will ultimately make you feel more fulfilled and relaxed.

A mental health break is more than just a day off.

Having a mental health break means more than being out of the office. When you are taking a real break for your mental health, you should not have anything that you need to do right away. So, you might take a sick day from work as a mental health day when you anticipate a lull to avoid coming back to even more stress in the office. There aren’t any rules for how you should spend your day, but you should pass time with activities you love that help you feel refreshed. For example, take a walk outside or get lost in a book. Your mind will truly thrive when it’s allowed to wander, rather than focusing on a task-oriented schedule.

It’s okay to not be busy for a while.

Increasingly, there is an attitude that we need to fill every moment of the day with activity, but it is okay to spend time truly doing nothing—it’s just as important as any other activity. However, it can be difficult to let go of the urge to keep your mind active, so you might need to take steps like turning off your phone and staying off social media for a day to let yourself let go.

Mental health breaks are a good start, but they may not be enough if you’re already struggling with depression, anxiety, or poor stress management. Fortunately, you don’t have to take too much time out of your schedule to get the help you need with MeMD. With our behavioral health services, therapy is easier and more accessible than ever—all you need is a phone or computer to get started.