How taking a break will do wonders for your mental health

It is challenging to lead a healthy balanced life in the fast-paced world we are living in. Even if you are an athlete, a student, an entrepreneur, a house maker, an employee or an actor managing your work, the companionship of family and friends might  seem to fade away. In this everyday hustle and bustle - self-care, relaxation and rest often takes a backseat. Whether you are working 24/7 or part-time, it is vital to stay energised and focused to navigate your way forward. 

The key is to take a break. It could be a five-minute pause from your screen, a half-hour of watching Friends or a weekend getaway. Short and long breaks have both proved to have a positive correlation with productivity and psychological well-being. 

Why take a break?
Grinding day in and day out can be tormenting and diminish your productivity. Keeping up the grind may seem conducive, but it can have debilitating effects on your performance and wellbeing. Taking some time off presents you with an opportunity to reflect on yourself and understand your feelings. 

Taking breaks allows your brain and body to get the necessary recharge it needs to keep going - Brittany Johnson, Mental Health Counsellor

Here are four ways how taking a break can do a lot for your mental health.

  1. Movement is Medicine
    Get up and Get going! Movement breaks are beneficial for your physical and emotional health. A study conducted with desk workers determined that a 5 minute walk break every hour can enlighten your mood, reduce lethargy and combat your hunger pangs. Moreover, a 30-min exercise break can delay the onset for some, treat the symptoms for others and reverse few mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
  2. Break for the Brain
    Learning is a conscious and effortful task. To retain new knowledge, old information should be processed by our brain. A lot of this processing happens unconsciously without our direct effort. Studying, learning a new skill, or working on a project for longer durations without breaks can be tiresome and futile if the brain has not processed all the information. 

Therefore, taking short breaks in between can increase the efficiency of your brain and retaining the knowledge better. Research suggests that taking a nap immediately after studying helps students to memorise the information better than staying awake.

  1. Get more Creative and Productive
    A day full of meetings, a week full of hard work or a month full of deadlines can wreck your creativity and productivity without breaks. An athlete training despite injury, an employee skipping lunch, a student staying up all night before exams are doing no favours to themselves. In fact, you are depleting your cognitive capacity and mental resources.
    Newton got his "Aha moment" when he was relaxing under a tree. Think of your "Aha moment"- were you relaxed or exhausted?
  2. Get Motivated and sustain your long-term goals
    For successful execution of goals, our prefrontal cortex (PFC) works hard to keep us focused and maintain attention. It also aids us to gather willpower, logical thinking to override impulses. Short intervals can actually regulate our attention and keep us motivated throughout. 

Today we often get stressed and due to limited mental health resources, we might turn to unhealthy habits. Therefore, it is important to take time off for yourself, relax and ensure that you are not achieving success or stress at the cost of your mental and physical health. Though you might not feel like it, taking a break can help you detox mentally and come back with a more productive, motivated mindset.

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