It isn’t hard to know when you need to call into work or spend a day in bed when you wake up with a fever. Being physically sick often results in clear signs that are hard to dispute. Mental health conditions are a little different. People tend to brush off the signs that they are under too much stress by making excuses such as being tired from staying up too late.
Considering that one in five adults in the United States are living with a mental health condition, it might be more important than you think to learn when to take a break. Mental health breaks can be a couple of hours or several weeks. They can also take place in some surprising places that range from the middle of your kitchen to long-distance destinations. Watching out for these five signs of stress lets you know when it is time to start planning for a mental vacation.
You’ve Lost Your Ability to Stay Focused
If you’ve ever found yourself scrambling to remember an important fact during a meeting or drifting off during a phone call, then you might’ve fallen prey to the effects of too much stress. People with chronic stress have been shown to have a slower reaction response compared to people without it. Although being distracted easily may be a symptom of other conditions such as ADHD, you’ll want to view it as a warning sign if this is new for you.
Your Relationships Are Feeling the Strain
Hearing the news that 36% of Americans report feeling lonely might help you feel less alone, but it doesn’t fix the underlying cause. Having too much on your plate might mean that you’ve let other priorities go, and this might include doing things such as going on a lunch date with your friends. Since healthy relationships make it easier to maintain good mental health, taking a break could help you fix two problems at once. Consider inviting someone you love on one of your breaks so that you can double the benefits.
You Keep Putting Off Self-Care
Self-care includes all of those things that you do to keep yourself physically and mentally well. If you can’t remember when the last time was that you went to the dentist or visited your doctor for a health checkup, then you might be dealing with an overly busy schedule. Try to find a way to carve out time to catch up on the self-care that you’ve been putting off. You’ll feel more like smiling after you get a fresh haircut or manage to go for a jog.
You’ve Started Engaging In Unhealthy Behaviors
People often turn to unhealthy behaviors as a way to comfort themselves during stressful times. An unhealthy behavior is anything that doesn’t contribute to your wellbeing. Some are obvious, such as smoking or drinking excessively. Others might not be so clear. For example, binge watching your favorite TV shows might be fine if it only happens occasionally, such as on a day when you don’t feel well. But, you shouldn’t do that so often that it interferes with you doing things that are essential for your wellbeing, such as cleaning the house or cooking a healthy meal.
You’re Constantly Feeling On Edge
That feeling like you could pop off at any time is a sign of emotional stress. In some cases, you might feel like you are emotionally wound up and could lash out at someone at any time. Or, you might feel like something is about to go wrong at any moment. If the tension builds up enough, you might actually find yourself losing your temper at work or with someone that you love. If your normal self-care strategies don’t help to relieve your tension, then you might need to explore ways to take a longer break. Sometimes, all you need is a few days or weeks away from a stressor to help you regain a calmer perspective.
What Are Some Good Places to Go For a Mental Health Break?
By now, you might be identifying with one or more of the signs that a mental health break is due. Yet, you may also be wondering exactly where you can go or what you should do to make that happen. Here’s a few ideas to help you start planning for a mental health break that will lead to a greater sense of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Take Refuge At a Spa
A spa day can range from spending a few hours getting a massage and facial along with other pampering treatments. Or, you could head to a spa-style resort for a longer break that also allows you to spend time in a beautiful location that is known for healing. The option you choose will depend upon your budget and available time, but either one can help you start to feel better. Paying attention to your body’s needs helps you to remember that you deserve to relax and feel well mentally.
Spend a Few Hours At a Museum
Museums are a great place to wander around and spend a few hours exploring a different subject. You could go to an art museum to jumpstart your creativity, or you could go to one that focuses on science where you can expand your knowledge of how the world works. Since museums are calm places, you’ll be able to soak up the relaxed energy as you take your mind off of your troubles for a while.
Recover At a Rehab Center
Sometimes, you need a more intensive type of mental health break than you can get from wandering around a museum. Going to a mental health treatment center helps you to get to the heart of what might be contributing to your stress. Or, you might choose this option if you are finding it hard to break those unhealthy habits that you’ve turned to in an effort to feel better. This mental health break location offers options such as staying overnight or going to treatment during the day, so you can pick the one that best fits your schedule.
Relax At a Local Library
Libraries are well-known for being havens where you can spend some time soaking up the calm atmosphere. They are also typically quiet, which means that you can take a sensory break if some of your stress comes from being in a noisy environment. At the library, you can choose to curl up in a quiet corner and read for an hour or two. Or, you might check out your local library’s activities. Joining a book club or going to an author’s book signing might also help you to feel mentally well.
Seek Out Some Thrills At an Amusement Park
Scaring yourself on a rollercoaster might sound more stressful than your current situation, but it could have benefits for improving your mood. People who go on thrill rides have been shown to have elevated endorphins afterwards that promote a sense of euphoria. If you still aren’t sure about going bungee jumping or riding that huge coaster, then you can still get similar effects from trying out a ferris wheel or going on another slower ride.
Taking a break might seem like you are taking the easy way out, but stepping away from your stress helps you to feel more grounded. After coming back from your break, you should feel refreshed and more productive. As you cultivate a few go-to places for taking a break, remember to change things every once in a while. Stepping into a different environment gives your brain new sensations to contemplate, and you never know when you might learn a new strategy for managing stress that resonates with your spirit.
ncbi.nim.nih.gov-Impact of Chronic Stress On Attention Control
mcc.gse.harvard.edu-Loneliness in America
health.harvard.edu-Watch Out For Unhealthy Responses to Stress
my.clevelandclinic.org-Emotional Stress: Warning Signs, Management, When to Get Help
scientificamerican.com-The Psychology of Rollercoasters