#Askingforafriend: Take a break!

By Krista Hoffer
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

I don’t particularly enjoy feeling lazy, but I do understand the importance of taking breaks for mental health reasons. Yet, many of us might relate to waiting until we are in dire need of a break and pushing it off until the very last moment.

Contrary to what I wish were true, it’s better to take breaks for mental health more often, even if we don’t feel like we need or deserve them.

Here’s the progression:

I’m doing well. Things could definitely be worse. My depression and anxiety feel under control. I have motivation to get things done and be productive. I even branched out and tried a new thing yesterday. I am spending quality time with others and enjoying it. Life feels pretty good right now! 

Then my mind wanders. How long will this last before the next panic attack? I don’t know, but I’d better get things done now before it hits me again. The idea of taking a break to nurture my mental health is fleeting, but I decide that I don’t need one. I don’t have time. I feel fine.

And then I crash, hard. Out of nowhere, I’m talking messes everywhere. I don’t leave my bed for three days. I can’t even think about going to school or work. I’ve bailed on my friends, my homework and my hygiene. Gosh, I smell. I know a shower would be good, but I just don’t have any motivation. Life is canceled. 

What went wrong? Nothing even happened. This is because feeling good can be deceptive.

I’m sure some of you reading this may be more familiar with this cycle than you might like to admit, and yet you are not the only one.

The (perhaps unfortunate) truth is that good mental health demands deliberate care. I know, from personal success and failures, this process gets easier as you set habits and as you exploit professional skills such as therapy or medication (or both).

But they don’t make up for the work (and by “work” I mean taking a break) you need do on your own. You need to do it for YOU.

Each day, find some ways to care for yourself mentally. Each day might need a different type of “care.” 

How you spend your time is up to you. Most days, I do something different each time. Be careful to be aware of “mind-numbing” distractions versus a real true break.

Mind-numbing activities include perusing social media or watching TV. That’s not a break; that’s a distraction.

Get creative: Listen to music, journal, call a friend, go for a walk, meditate, exercise … find what works for you.

A daily break, even if for five minutes, allows your body and mind to decompress from daily stressors that build up over time. You may acquire it slowly, making it seem unnoticeable.

In addition, big or challenging emotions that you’re suppressing can begin to surface once you allow yourself to slow down. Taking a regular break is a preventative measure. For me, it’s one of the most effective (and easy) mental health practices.

What do you do for your mental health breaks?

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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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