With deadlines to meet, your best friend’s birthday party to organize, the side hustle you’ve started working on, your life is full of responsibilities and you probably feel overwhelmed. Your stress levels could hugely rise but you know you can’t stop if you want to meet your deadlines. In a world where we often think that a cup of coffee can replace hours of sleep, it’s normal for people to assume that our body is capable of anything. But in fact, we are not robots. We need to accept that sometimes a mental break is what we really need to come back better than ever.
However, with a busy scheduled life, it’s hard to find the right moment to stop and understand what our body needs. Well, guess what? There will never be the right moment for a mental break if you don’t create it for yourself. You’ll always have something that will keep you busy and that will make you feel like you have no time for a pause.
We often get signals that tell us that our life is way too overloaded. However, we might not recognize these signals and consequently ignore them. That’s why it’s important to take note of the most common ones so that you can take care of yourself as soon as you need it and feel better than ever!
Here are the 5 most common signs you need to take a mental break:
1. When you don’t have any motivation (even for things you’re really passionate about)
It’s harder and harder for you to find the right motivation to do anything, even what you actually love doing. You feel like your creativity is obstructed and that you’re wasting your time on things that won’t take you anywhere.
If you see yourself in this description then is definitely the moment for a mental break. It’s time to distance yourself from this overwhelming context and wait for the inspiration to flow back to you. The best thing to do in this case is trying not to be productive for a while (it’s totally the opposite of what we want in these situations, but it’s actually what will work to let us find the right motivation). You’ll notice that the motivation will come when least expected.
One thing I love doing when I’m particularly stressed and demotivated is listening to podcasts. Here are the ones that I love listening to the most:
2. When even the smallest problems look huge
You’ve noticed an increased susceptibility, for which even the most harmless comments, as well as constructive criticism, can upset and irritate you. Let’s admit it: you’d rather avoid any contact with the outside world.
Also, easy tasks suddenly look like huge projects and even just the thought of accomplishing something looks like a long and impossible journey.
If you can, give yourself a few days to spend some alone time. It could be exactly what you need to recharge and come back better and more motivated than ever.
3. When you’re constantly sick
Did you ever ask yourself why you get sick in the least appropriate periods? Like before a big event you’ve been stressing about for a while or when you have a close deadline. Well, there’s actually a scientific reason behind it.
The immune system weakening is one of the most common signals of a highly stressful period. This is due to the release by our body (for a way too prolonged period of time) of catecholamine. They are hormones that contribute to the adjustment of the immune system, but that in high doses can actually interfere with it.
One of the best and immediate ways to strengthen our immune system is by exercising. It will help you release all the tension in your body and get rid of that harmful stress. Just make sure, though, that the physical exercise you’re doing is enjoyable to you and that at the end of it you feel content and fulfilled.
4. When you’re tired but you can’t sleep
If your thoughts keep you up at night, then it’s definitely the right moment to take a mental break. The lack of sleep will ultimately only make worsen your mood and your cognitive abilities.
I often hear the motto “Sleep is for the weak” which distorts the way we look at sleep and makes us think that sleeping less is actually a good idea. This option though can lead to many short and long-term effects. But, most importantly, it makes our mental health very unstable and will only turn out to be a bad and unproductive decision.
Having a good night of sleep is probably the best way to take a mental break, stop thinking about your commitments for a while and restore your energy. If you can’t help but look at the ceiling for hours before falling asleep then try these very simple methods. They might help you finally get those much needed 8 hours of sleep:
- Eat your last meal or snack at least one hour before bed
- Think about all the things you’re grateful for: keep going until you don’t even realize you’re falling asleep
- Stop using electronics a half hour (or more) before bed
- If you really can’t sleep without some light in your room, then avoid blue tones, and go for warm colors such as red.
Don’t work in bed
5. When you can’t draw a line between work and personal time
The moment when you realize your personal time is always somehow constrained by your job or your commitments, in general, you should consider taking a mental break and reconsider your priorities.
If your schedule makes you overlook a doctor’s appointment to save time and you have no time to spend with your loved ones you should really think about taking a mental break. Don’t put other’s needs first, but always prioritize yourself and your own needs. Something like taking an extra shift at work to help a colleague once in a while is totally good, but don’t let this become a habit if your life is already stressful enough.
Spending time to care for your own needs will help you put things back into perspective. Understand that putting others’ needs second is okay because you need to take care of yourself first.
When do you know it’s time for a mental break? What works the best for you? Share your opinion and experience in the comments down below!