Physical Benefits of Taking Mental Health Breaks

Most people have heard about “mental health days” or “breaks,” the idea of taking a day or several days break from work, school and other responsibilities, not because they’re sick, but just to take a break.

At first glance, this may seem silly, or even selfish. But there are actually several benefits, some of them physical, to taking these mental health breaks. Those benefits make it well worth playing catch-up later when they return to work, school, and other responsibilities.

It Eases Stress

Stress may seem like a mental symptom, but it actually has several physical components. Most people can feel a tightness in their shoulders, arms, or backs when they’re stressed. Headaches, trouble sleeping, a decrease or increase in appetite are all also physical symptoms of it.

By taking a mental health break, that stress is eased. When the stress is relieved, the physical symptoms tend to also be reduced or eliminated. This is important, because the longer that the physical symptoms continue, the more likely it is that they’ll create a chronic problem that needs the help of a doctor to treat.

It Improves Sleep

The weight of responsibility from work, school, raising children, keeping a healthy marriage, and possibly caring for elderly parents takes its toll. Other people may dump their responsibilities on spouses, parents, and co-workers, which only adds to that weight. Many people will find themselves lying awake at night, worrying over the things left undone, things forgotten, or the things that are on their to-do list for the next day. As the hours tick on, sleep is more elusive as they begin playing the “if I fall asleep now, I can get X hours of sleep” game.

Taking a break and letting go of all responsibilities for a day or two improves sleep in a few ways. One is that it gives the person the time to sleep, since they’re not doing anything else. It also gives them a chance to shed the weight of all their responsibilities, making it easier to lie down and take a nap, if not get a full night’s rest.

It Improves Heart Health

A UK study found that taking vacations improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

It was even noted that a vacation wasn’t necessarily needed. Simply taking a little time each day to unplug, to take a break, can have great benefits to mental, and therefore physical health.

Mental health breaks can take many forms. It can be as elaborate as an extended vacation, taking time away from work, daily responsibilities, and simply enjoying time with family and/or friends in a new or different environment. Or it can be as simple and quick as a daily meditation routine that takes mere minutes at the beginning or end of the day. It can be a combination of things along that spectrum. The key is to ensure that you take mental health breaks to improve your physical health.