5 Signs You Need a Mental Health Break (and How to Take One)

More now than ever before, people are recognizing the significance stepping away to regroup has on their overall quality of life. Even employers are acknowledging the link between employee mental health and productivity levels.

Whether you've worn out from the daily grind, caring for family, or a romantic relationship, there are five unmistakable signs you're at your wit's end and need a break. Keep reading for tips on how to enjoy your much-needed time off. The best part is, you don't have to worry about things like money or COVID-19 travel restrictions to relax and unwind.

What Is a Mental Health Break?

Taking a mental health break means distancing yourself from stressful day-to-day routines to rebalance your mind, body, and soul. Relaxing activities help you decompress, whether you do them for 10 minutes or an hour a day.

It all depends on how much time you can take away from work and family to get your me-time on. Regardless of how long that break is, the important thing is feeling renewed and ready to return to life's responsibilities.

Why Is Taking a Mental Health Break Important?

Built-up psychological and emotional stress can lead to reduced well-being, a mental breakdown, and the need for psychiatric treatment. The importance of mental health has become such a priority for many nations that there's a designated World Mental Health Day.

Mental health has become a top priority after a rise in mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) showed a 13% rise in mental health disorders and substance use disorders in the previous decade.

Stepping back from the sources of stress allows you to unwind, recharge, and regain motivation.

5 Telltale Signs It's Time to Take a Mental Break

Mental health disorders are widespread and frequently triggered by illnesses and chronic stress. Managing stress by taking time to nourish your mental health can help reduce the risk of these conditions. If you notice any of these clues your mental well-being is compromised, maybe it's time to stop and reset.

#1: You feel mentally exhausted

Constantly feeling stressed out, physically tired, or irritable is a big sign of mental exhaustion or burnout. The chance of feeling mentally drained or fatigued may be greater in people who overstress their brains by frequently doing work that requires high focus and concentration. The stress of caring for young kids or a sick loved one is another contributing factor.

Burnout can interfere with your ability to cope with stress and affect the way you think and behave. Symptoms such as anger, moodiness, and irritability are likely to impact how you relate to others and lead to poor decisions.

#2: You're constantly on edge

Being on edge or uneasy all or most of the time can come from feeling anxious. Fear, panic, irritability, and racing heartbeat are other signs of anxiety. Uneasiness occurs when your body's fight-or-flight system is frequently activated by stress and the amygdala in the brain is struggling to regulate stress responses. You may end up feeling overly antsy or agitated. Taking a few moments to unwind throughout your day is a helpful way to calm the nerves and reduce stress levels.

#3: You're easily triggered

Not only are you feeling edgy, just about everything sets you off lately. When your nervous system has had too much, it becomes easier to get triggered. In mental health, a trigger or stressor is anything (e.g., thought, feeling, person, or place) that causes a negative emotional reaction or an overreaction. Some people display angry outbursts or heightened aggression.

When triggered, you might find yourself unable to think clearly or make sound judgments. It's also difficult to self-regulate your emotions and mood. Spending a few hours or a day away from the everyday hustle might be what you need to release pent-up frustrations and calm down.

#4: You lack motivation

Mental burnout can leave you feeling down in the dumps and less motivated to do anything. You find yourself angry and resentful at the fact that you have to go to work or get out of bed to care for your kids. Although you muster up some energy to get to your daily chores, you notice you're dragging around the house or office. If you've been running on low energy and feeling chronically fatigued, chances are your brain and body need a day off to rejuvenate.

#5: You're pulling away from people

People pull away from social life when they feel overburdened or unable to cope with everyday stressors. If you find yourself socially withdrawn, it's probably because you have too much on your plate and feel too down to interact with others.

While it's okay to enjoy moments of “alone time,” spending excessive time away or being isolated from family and friends may lead to loneliness, anxiety, or depression. Social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed are two signs of depression.

Ways to Take a Mental Health Break

Getting away to mentally rejuvenate doesn't necessarily mean traveling to a vacation destination or jet setting around the world. You may not have the money or time off from work to take such an extravagant trip. Luckily, you can experience a mental escape right at home or outdoors.

There are numerous simple ways to boost your mental health. Anything that makes you relax, laugh or feel a sense of well-being can do the trick. Below are some inexpensive activities that may boost your mood and create a sense of happiness.

  • Draw or paint
  • Catch up on your favorite TV show
  • Get quality sleep (helps reset the brain and body)
  • Meditate or do yoga
  • Exercise (reduces stress hormones)
  • Sexual intimacy (releases the feel-good hormones endorphins)
  • Disconnect from social media (minimizes cyber stress and anxiety)
  • Sit in silence to collect your thoughts
  • Take a nature walk
  • Picnic in the sunshine (sunlight increases mood-boosting serotonin in the brain)

Things like smoking, drinking, overeating, ruminating, and avoiding loved ones are not healthy ways to unwind.

The Bottom Line

Frequently taking breaks to engage in pleasurable activities is a natural way to manage stress and keep your mind and body refreshed. You're able to cope with life challenges and enjoy an overall better quality of life.


who.int - World Mental Health Day

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com - Luxury Rehab in Austin Texas

who.int - Mental Health

mentalhealth.org.uk - How to Manage and Reduce Stress

sciencedirect.com - Neural Mechanisms of Mental Fatigue Revisited: New Insights from the Brain Connectome

nhsinform.scot - Why Do I Feel Anxious and Panicky?

intechopen.com - The Key Role of the Amygdala in Stress

nami.org - Understanding Mental Illness Triggers

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov -Depression: What Is Burnout?

nia.nih.gov - Social Isolation, Loneliness in Older People Pose Health Risks

mhanational.org - 31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

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