As women, many of us live our lives on autopilot, shuffling from one set of responsibilities to another. The focus is on everyone else—our bosses, clients, coworkers, partners, and children. We hardly have time to catch our breath in between obligations. We most certainly don’t take natural breaks to focus on our mental health.
Why You Need a Mental Health Break
Operating on autopilot might help you accomplish your daily to-do list, but this state of being results in detachment from the most important person: you. Detachment may help you keep your eye on the proverbial ball for a short time. In the long run, however, it can make you more susceptible to stress, worry, and anxiety.
Three Ways to Make Your Break Worthwhile
Carve out five to ten minutes from your workday and take a mini-break. You can use this time to take a short walk outside for fresh air. Complete two to three minutes of deep breathing. Do a quick body scan to check in with yourself and bring awareness to any tension in your body. Complete a 5-minute meditation session. Stretch and get a drink of water. Or, shut your eyes and listen to a calming song, or two.
Extra points if you take another mini-break in the evening after work. This can be a great way to transition into your home life without bringing stress with you.
Promote Positive Thinking
Five minutes can also be used to combat negative self-talk. If worries and anxious thoughts fill your day, jot them down. Then, set aside 10 minutes later for a worry period. Take out your list of worries and work through them one-by-one.
Look at each worry or situation and ask yourself: Is this in or out of my control? How can I look at this more positively? What can I do right now to improve this? How can I change my reaction to this stressful situation?
If you need more help with positive thinking, professional counseling can help.
This is one that will freak many women out. I know this, but I have to say it anyway: power off your smartphone and walk away from anything with a screen. Our social media feeds, the news—it’s stressing us out. Break your addiction to tech and reconnect with other sources of pleasure and entertainment. Read a real book or magazine. Visit a friend. Walk your dog. Journal. Make a gratitude list. Set a timer, if you must, but unplug and do something for you.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that even a 5-minute break can help you decompress and tune into your body and mind. Over time, you may feel more capable of coping with the stressors of life without detaching.
Has your stress gotten out of control?
As your counselor, I can work with you to learn even more strategies to effectively manage stress, worry, and anxiety.
Sources: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm, http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/self/how-7-super-successful-women-leaders-find-the-time-to-take-care-of-their-health_b_8547164.html, http://www.health.com/home/workday-breaks-help-employees-reboot-researchers-say, https://www.cdc.gov/family/minutes/tips/takeabreak/
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