You don’t have to feel guilty for taking care of your mental health.
Why should I take a mental health break?
I know the phrase “mental health break” may seem like you have to wait until you reach your limit, but you should actually take breaks before you reach that point.
It's essential to perceive yourself and your health as a system where mind, body, and soul communicate.
A mental health break brings many benefits:
- New energy for challenging tasks
- A change of attitude/perspective
- Decreased brain fog and increased focus/attention
- Overall increased in mental and physical health
It took me a long time to understand this, and now that I know it, I can't stress this enough: your mental health matters—a lot.
Your body and mind communicate, and when something within you is off (either in your body or in your psyche), they will let you know.
What does a mental health break involve?
A mental health break involves stepping back from activities that may be causing you stress. I’m not telling you to skip studying for next week's assignment, I’m merely telling you to avoid things that are not necessary or provide you with extra stress.
It's okay if you feel too tired to hang out with friends. It's also okay if you need a break from social media. I know it seems impossible, but some days without Instagram or Snapchat (or minimal consumption) can even improve your sleep quality!
My secret trick to decrease my social media presence is changing my main menu icons. I put Instagram and all the other social apps into a folder on my menu's second page. By not seeing them every day on the front page of my screen, my consumption decreases massively.
I have also started using Kindle to read instead of my phone. Its screen is more sleep-friendly and its light isn’t as aggressive as the one of my phone.
You don't have to feel guilty for taking care of your mental health.
One thing I suggest when you do take a break: communicate with the people you usually interact with and let them know what’s going on. This will allow them to understand and respect your needs.
You don’t want them to worry about you disappearing, but you want them to know that you need this time to take care of yourself.
What else can I do during a mental health break?
By taking a mental health break, you might start thinking of all the things you should do. "Call mom," "Write to that friend." etc.
As long as it doesn't feel like a duty, but a pleasure, you can consider it.
This time is reserved for the things you wish you could do if only you had time! Things you like, things that make you feel good, relaxing activities, or self-care habits.
If you are dealing with exams and assignments, it's hard to think about leisure, and guilt is a familiar feeling. Guilt has a lot do with what we believe other people expect from us. Sadly, mental health has never really been prioritized by society.
However, we can all individually change the game!
A mental health break can eventually lead to better performance, and your brain (and its processing abilities) needs time to recover too.
Besides all the benefits of a break, it might also be the time to ask yourself those tricky questions strictly related to your mental health:
- Am I taking care of my mental wellbeing?
- Are there any people/situations that damage my mental wellbeing? If yes, how can I deal with them?
Already being aware of what stresses you is enough, for now. Eventually, you might want to deal with those concerns or perhaps ask for help.
The bottom line is that you should focus on what makes you feel good during your mental health break, and if you have the time and energy, realize what doesn’t make you feel so good.
How long should I take this break?
The choice is yours! If this is the first time you’re taking a mental health break, it might not be too easy to actually switch off and pause your stressors.
My advice is to start gradually by turning off notifications from social media for a couple of hours and seeing how it feels (that is, if you spend a lot of time online).
Remember that to see benefits, you’ll need at least a couple days.
Only by trying will you realize that a break is the best gift you can give to your brain and is an act of self-love too.
By prioritizing your mental health, you might inspire others to do the same. In any case, this action communicates that you care about yourself. It's a sign of growth and self-respect.
Aren't you worthy of that? I believe you are.