Even when things are relatively stable in the world, juggling the many tasks you need to accomplish on a daily basis—from work deadlines to family responsibilities—creates more stress than you'd probably care to take on. And when you add in a pandemic and its impact on so many different aspects of life, ranging from your physical health to your financial stability, things can become unmanageable and take a serious toll on your mental health. That's why it's so important to give yourself a break every now and then. And with World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, it's a good time to consider just how often you should take a day to recharge and destress. According to a U.K. survey, in order to avoid burnout from work or other daily stressors, you need a vacation—or at least a day off—every 62 days, otherwise you increase your chances of growing anxious, aggressive, or physically ill.
Taking time off is key to prioritizing your mental health. "Mental health breaks by definition imply that in order for workers to be more productive, mind-body health needs to be maintained. In order to assure productivity, the human body needs to be refueled both physically and mentally," Kevin Chapman, PhD, a clinical psychologist, told Travel and Leisure in 2019. "The most systematic way to ensure that this refueling occurs would be through providing regular mental health breaks since stress is inevitable."
However often you are able to prioritize your mental well-being and overall health, what you do with that time taken for yourself is just as important as the amount of time you take. Read on to discover some ways to get the most out of your mental health day. And for more on improving your mental state, check out The Things You're Doing That Are Hurting Your Mental Health.
Explore your creativity.
Whether that means trying a new recipe, painting, or writing in a journal, expressing your creative side has been shown to have an array of benefits to your mental and physical health.
In an analysis of more than 100 studies, researchers concluded that "participation and/or engagement in the arts have been linked to a decrease in depressive symptoms, an increase in positive emotions, reduction in stress responses, and, in some cases, even improvements in immune system functioning," Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, a psychologist and expressive arts therapist, wrote for Psychology Today. And for more reasons to find peace of mind, Here's How Much Improving Your Mental Health Can Extend Your Life.
Engaging in activities like yoga and meditation have proven to be excellent ways to destress and improve your mood. In fact, according to one 2015 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, individuals who practiced mindfulness regularly were found to suffer from lower levels of physiological stress than those who didn't.
Go for a long walk.
What better way to unplug and get away from the stress of daily life than a nice long stroll—especially if it's done in a natural environment or park. Taking a 30-minute walk or hike in nature has been shown to increase energy levels, reduce depression, and boost well-being, according to Mental Health America. And for more on the rewards of moving your body, check out The Amazing Health Benefits of Walking.
Put your stress-inducing tasks on hold.
The whole point of taking a mental health day is to step away from the daily tasks and stressors that are causing you to burn out. Read a book, take a nap, get a massage, or catch up with friends. It's the perfect time to do whatever helps you relax that you don't normally allow yourself the time to do in a typical day. And for other mental health tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.