If you follow me on YouTube you might have seen that I posted about needing to take a mental health break even though I’m right in the middle of Vlogust and the goal of posting daily (which didn’t happen). I hesitated to publically announce that I needed a break, but once I did, the feedback was nothing but supportive. I’m not sure what I was worried about. Was it that I was going back on my word of posting something every day, or was I concerned that people would judge me for taking a mental health break? Whatever the reason was, my anxiety about it was clearly not necessary, and now, after a 4-day break of putting all of the work down, I feel ready to attack this again.
Why is there such a stigma around taking a break? It’s like if you’re not working yourself into oblivion then you’re doing something wrong. Granted, this judgment didn’t actually come at me from the outside (which I know it can), but I was the one judging myself for my “need” to take a break. How crazy has this overworked society actually made us?
Now, I do firmly believe that it is very easy to over-use “mental health break” as an excuse to be lazy, so let’s save them for when we really need them and not just when we don’t feel like putting in the work.
Late last week was an exception. I became the target for some completely unnecessary family drama, and while most of the time I let stuff like that roll off my back, this compounded in such a way that it broke me. At one point I was almost in tears while I was on the elliptical at the gym..and it takes a LOT to get me to cry in public. In the midst of the drama, my poor little Gracie started to get diarrhea, which I thought was a 24-hour bug and ended up turning into a trip to the vet, 2 medications, and more messes to clean up than I knew what to do with. I’m not telling you this to look for any sympathy, but I just want to tell you where it all started. It was a rough few days, and the thought of sitting down to film or write content that I knew would be mediocre at best due to my current state of mind lessened my desire to produce content at all, so after debating about it, I decided I simply wouldn’t. I made an announcement on my channel’s page and then put the camera down and walked away.
My mental health break was not an excuse to do nothing, but it was quite the opposite actually. I took it as an opportunity to give a rest to the things that cause me the most anxiety, which at the time was working on Diva and the Divine (because of the pressure I put on myself) and trying to defend myself to my family. By this time it was Thursday night and my husband (who was also having a rough week for a totally different set of reasons) was on his way home from traveling, so I decided we were just going to relax, talk about issues if we wanted to, and focus on having a good weekend.
We went out on a fun date, had a cookout with friends, went to our church picnic, vegged on the couch, and enjoyed some time with each other. When he went back to work on Monday I went to Bodypump first thing, went hardcore at cleaning the house, steam mopping the floors (which was necessary after Gracie’s whole illness), doing laundry, and making it nice and tidy. I read a book, I worked on my Diamond Dotz project that has taken me two months thus far and I’m not quite done yet. Tuesday, I did much of the same, and ended the day with a friend coming over for a few hours where we both talked, vented, and talked some more. It was lovely. It wasn’t until Wednesday (5 days later) that I woke up and was ready to pick up the camera, resulting in today’s vlog upload, and today (Thursday) I woke up 100% ready to hit the ground running, feeling much better about life, and embracing all of the work that I now need to catch up on. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the limiting family communication only lasted a day or two. Some family members I am basically in constant communication with, so I knew it wouldn’t last long 🤷🏻♀️
It took me nearly a week of putting down my biggest stressor to recover my drive to look at it again. While many people don’t have the option to put down their work for an entire week, there is something to be said for actually letting it all go once you leave the office on Friday, or even taking a day off for a mental health day. Letting my brain take some time to focus on other things truly gave it the break it needed to be able to come back to work ready to crank out the best work I possibly can.
Here are a few things about my mental health break
- I still woke up at 6:30 am on the weekdays even though I wasn’t planning a normal workday. I’m learning that the longer I stay consistent with it, the easier waking up early is, so I was unwilling to let that go. Instead, I went to bed early to get extra sleep.
- Just because Diva and the Divine got pushed aside for a few days doesn’t mean I wasn’t hard at work. I did things that usually fight for my time while I’m working, and it was very emotionally satisfying to block of the day and get those other things done. Just because you’re on a mental health break doesn’t mean it needs to be time wasted.
- I was both eating beautifully on plan and worked out every single day because I was able to put more energy and focus in that area. Using the first half of this week to focus on my health and fitness goals are helping me create successful streaks that I plan on maintaining now that I’m adding things back into my life.
- I won’t lie, among all of the “getting things done” there was also plenty of binge watching Friends and lounging on the couch. I did whatever felt good to me at the time (as long as I reached my 10k step goal first). Yes, sometimes what feels good is deep cleaning and tidying up. Can you relate?
I could feel when I woke up today that the break was over and it was time to get back to it. Today I’m fired up about working, getting things done, and making the most of my day. I’m generally a pretty motivated person when I’m doing something I loved, so there’s a solid chance that the situation that “broke” me was just the final straw on top of a very burnt out cake, as I’ve been feeling like my spark has been extinguished for a while now.
At the end of the day, acknowledging and accepting that all I needed was to give myself permission to take a quick break truly helped me get that spark back. All of my followers are still with me (at least the loyal ones are) even though I took a mini vacation away, the work is still waiting for me, no one died when I decided to take a break from responding to messages or not answering the phone. Everything was fine. Everything will be fine if you take a short break too. Maybe you can’t take a whole week but what about a day or even an afternoon? A few ways you can implement a mental health break into your week right now are:
- Take a long lunch and go get a manicure or pedicure
- Friday night date night with your spouse. Do something fun. DON’T look at your phone!
- Don’t look at work emails all weekend long.
- Take yourself out to breakfast. Bring a book and spend some time with yourself.
- Can’t go out? Bring your morning coffee outside, even if it’s on the balcony of your condo, and spend 20 minutes meditating, praying, or being alone with your thoughts.
- Call a friend and catch up
- Put in headphones, turn on some music, and close your eyes.
- Go on a Saturday adventure
The list goes on and on and on. Comment below with some of your mental health break suggestions!
If you need permission from someone other than yourself to take the break you need, even if it’s only an hour, this is me giving it to you. You have permission to walk away for a little bit in order to come back feeling refreshed and ready to function as your best self. You have permission to say no to something if it’s going to be too much. You have permission to do what you need to fill your cup back to the top. It’s almost Friday, think about how you can give yourself a little break this weekend, then do it!