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How to Know When You Need to Take a Break from Everyday Life

We all need a break at some point in our lives. Perhaps you need one now, but, like most of us, you convince yourself that you are absolutely too busy to take a break at the moment. Rather than recognizing and accepting the signs our minds and bodies display when we are nearing burnout, we tend to say things like, “I just need to get through this week,” and “I have no time to take a break.”

“It’s no surprise, after the year we have endured, that most people need a break,” says Kari Shoemake, LPC, MA, and Supervisor of Clinical Programs at Diversus Health. “Many people have been under prolonged stress that has led to fatigue and burnout, which has taken a toll on their well-being.”

Sometimes, we push through for weeks, getting through one day after another without slowing down or taking a moment to breathe. We can get so overwhelmed by things in our lives that we end up feeling stressed, drained, and exhausted mentally and physically. When we feel this way, it can indicate that we need to check out and take a break from everyday life.

Taking a break when we are overwhelmed is necessary for maintaining our health and well-being. Cultivating good health habits takes a conscious effort. “Taking a break can look differently depending on your resources, time, and phase of life,” says Shoemake.

Do something for yourself once in a while. Take the time to pursue something that makes you happy. Plan a trip, go out in nature, or try a new restaurant. It is important to take care of our physical and mental health, and part of self-care involves knowing when to take a break from life to recharge, relax, and engage in hobbies that give us pleasure, relieve stress, and improve our mental health.

Here are 5 signs that reveal you need to take a break:

1. You Feel Restless

When you can’t sit still because there is so much on your mind that you feel like your head is spinning around your to-do list, this is your body’s way of letting you know that you need a break. Take a moment to pause and inhale a few deep breaths. You may be taking on too much or maybe you are not taking enough breaks at work, between projects, or you find yourself jumping from one task to the next without slowing down. When you attempt to relax at the end of your day, you may have a hard time quieting your mind or sitting still, making it difficult to recharge when you need it most.

2. You’re Awake at All Hours of the Night

Getting a good night’s rest is important. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, sleep is one of the first needs to suffer. If you notice yourself staying up late, lying awake wishing you could fall asleep, or waking up at odd hours in the night without being able to soothe yourself back into slumber, you may be in need of a mental break. With endless, racing thoughts, often comes anxiety. If you feel stressed before you get out of bed in the morning, this is another sign that you are carrying too much stress and worry. Get some time away to clear your head so you can start your next day feeling fresh.

3. Your Eating Habits Have Changed

When you notice a change in your eating habits, this can be a good indicator that you are stressed. You may find yourself eating less than usual or skipping your mealtimes, intentionally or not. On the opposite spectrum, you may find yourself eating more than normal and you may feel a constant need to snack, even if you don’t feel hungry. Both scenarios can signal that you need to take some time to recharge and refuel. Remember to stay hydrated, too.

4. You Have No Motivation

If you are dragging yourself to work or losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, you may have reached your point of burnout. High stress levels can eat away at motivation, turning activities into chores or monotonous tasks you feel obligated to do. Take some time to relax and give yourself the time you need to find your drive again.

5. You Have Been Neglecting Yourself

When your schedule begins to turn into a cycle of neglecting your self-care and basic needs, like skipping meals, not bathing for several days, or missing doctor appointments, it may be time to take a step back to re-evaluate your mental health. Your health is mandatory. Self-care is an extension of your health. Taking care of yourself will reduce stress and allow your body to unwind. Perhaps self-care looks like cleaning up your living space and decluttering your environment. Take some time to wash the pile of dishes on your kitchen counter or wash a load of laundry so you have clean clothes to wear tomorrow. Take a relaxing bath or read a book you’ve been putting off. Create a schedule that encourages you to make time for self-care.

We all need a break from time to time. Recognizing when it is time to hit pause on everyday life is the first step. “Incorporating 5-10 minutes of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, or social activity can improve your health and mood,” Shoemake says. “Take a walk, read a book, pray or meditate, journal your thoughts and feelings, or call a friend or family member.”

If you need additional support, consider reaching out to schedule an appointment with one of our professional providers at Diversus Health. Our health care providers can help you identify sources of stress in your life and can assist you in coming up with ways to prioritize your mental health and well-being. Contact us to get started today.

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