With deadlines to meet, errands to run, a baby shower to attend, and a week of meals to prep, your life is based on responsibilities — and your level of stress is high because you always meet your deadlines. After all, you’re an adult who can function under all types of pressure. And who can blame you for this determination? In a society where an extra shot of espresso is the answer to lack of sleep and working late is the key to getting ahead, it’s sometimes difficult to recognize the difference between your excuses and your exhaustion.
Although ignoring your obligations isn’t a viable solution, a break in order to collect yourself could be exactly what you need to become more efficient. We know the stigma — whereas pushing through a taxing episode in your life is impressive, the idea of responding with a mental break comes off as the complete opposite. Yet sometimes, the true strength comes in accepting that you’re a human who needs to recharge (instead of a robot who needs no such thing). By taking note of these five signs that it’s time for mental break, you’ll be able to rest your mind in the moment and reward yourself with the difference it makes in the future.
1. When you’re constantly sick
This past month was a rough one for you — in addition to the sinus infection that happened to come during your busiest work week, you now have a cough that won’t go away. While you can’t control your immune system, it’s not a coincidence that you become sick during the most inconvenient times. Why? Because our crucial life events trigger an amount of stress that usually causes a toll on our bodies. To avoid this domino effect, take your mental break and prepare for swamped weeks by sticking to a schedule that will allow you the sleep and nutrition you need to feel better and perform your best.
2. When you’re too stressed about the past to focus on the present
As you go through the motions of your day, you can’t help but dwell on how you made a calculation mistake on your last report and have failed to go to the gym for the past two weeks. Your mind spirals into the type of darkness where you feel the heaviness on your shoulders and the constant attack on your mind.
This type of overdrive is due to the action of life moving forward and the stress of you staying behind to hold on to whatever you deem was unsuccessful. By taking a break, you’ll give your mind the chance to relax and your thoughts the time they need to be sorted out.
3. When you’re neglecting yourself
If your schedule begins to turn into a cycle of skipping out on dinner to finish an assignment and overlooking doctor appointments to save time, it’s a smart idea to take a step back. Even though your responsibilities are important, your health is mandatory — and not taking care of yourself will cause you more stress than you probably already feel. Along with allowing your body to unwind, a mental break is a great opportunity to create a schedule that will stop you from disregarding your health and start you on a route to a higher quality of living.
4. When you’re tired and can’t sleep
What better way to combat the feeling of being sick like a good night’s rest? Nothing, which is why it’s so frustrating when you get into bed to sleep and end up lying there wishing you could. With endless thoughts running in your mind and (what feels like) the anxiety that comes with them, it’s only understandable that you feel everything but at peace. Thus, a mental break will give you the fresh air you need and the sleep you deserve.
5. When you’re always sad
Sometimes your emotions become overwhelming and all you can think to do is feel them — so let yourself. After all, there’s no shame in welcoming something that proves that you’re alive. Although it’s good to recognize how you feel, it becomes concerning when it’s a feeling that’s constantly sad and unmotivated. If the thought of going to your favorite barre class makes you tear up or the motion to cook your next meal suddenly becomes paralyzing, accept that you could need a mental break to set yourself back on track to come back stronger than before.
Have you recently allowed yourself to take a mental break? How did you know you needed it? Did it help?
This story was originally posted on October 17, 2017.