5 Ways to take a Break: (Busy Edition)

If you're anything like me, you have said the words "sorry, I'm busy". I unintentionally use this phrase more frequently than I would like. It is so easy to be busy; and if you are a student, like me, I can relate to the chaos of college. 

However, being "busy" is not a good excuse for our mental health to deteriorate. Especially if you are going into a helping profession, it is essential that you are able to practice self-care and coping strategies for when you are stressed. 

We all need a break from our busy lives, but HOW? How do we manage to take breaks when we have 5 assignments due, 8 hours of work, 3 hours of school, and normal everyday things in just one single day?!

Here are my suggestions for ways that you can take an effective break that will hopefully help you practice self-care.  

1. Breathe

This sounds very redundant, but it is one of the most important self-care practices I have learned. A great way to take a "break" from your crazy filled schedule is to take deep breathes. When I find myself stressed or overwhelmed, I noticed that my breathing gets faster, my heart rate increases, and my jaw clenches. When I am mindful of what my body is doing, I take several slow deep breathes to relax. Sometimes this is in my car between my job and going to school. Other times I practice deep breathes when I am in the midst of working or in class. So if you seriously have no time for even a 5 minute break from your day, remember to take deep breathes. You can take 5 deep breathes or 5 minutes of deep breathing.

2. Prioritize your health

One of the best suggestions I heard about self-care is to make sure that health is the top ( or at least 2 or 3) on you list of prioritizes. It is easy to make your job, school, relationships, and commitments your top priority, but in order for you to be your best in your many commitments, it helps to be mentally and physically healthy. When you make your health a priority, your schedule should change. Maybe instead of doing optional hours at work, you could go to the gym for an hour. Or maybe your day is absolutely booked with meetings and commitments, and you are struggling... it's ok if you cancel a commitment in order to take care of your mental and physical health (as long as this does not become a habit of canceling commitments). Once your health becomes your priority, it is much easy to find breaks in your schedule. 

3. Say "no"

You've hear this before. It is okay to say no to things. And I agree! One of the best things you can do for yourself is to say "no". However, be careful with how and when you use it. Yes, we do not want to say yes to every single opportunity or commitment that comes our way, but we also do not want to be someone who continually rejects opportunities as well. Figure what a good balance is for you. In some seasons in life you are going to say "yes" more than you will say no, and vice versa. Overall, know when to say "no"- it takes practice!

4. Put the break in your schedule

An excuse we often use to avoid breaks is that we do not have time for a break. BUT, what if we made time? I started putting breaks into my daily schedule and I noticed a dramatic change. These breaks aren't long... sometimes they are 5 minutes, other times they are an hour. The important thing is that me intentionally make time for the breaks.

5. Do the best type of break for your needs (exercise, tv, food, etc)

When I finally have time to take a break, it's so easy to turn to TV or social media for my break. Every once in a while these types of breaks are okay, but if these are the only type of breaks that I am having, it could have an effect on my day-to-day attitude. I suggest being mindful w=of the type of break that your body needs. Maybe you need to go for a run after a long day of work. Another break could be doing a hobby (knitting, reading, playing music, puzzles) for a certain amount of time. These hobby breaks often lift up our moods because we are doing something that we enjoy, and we are using different parts of brain than we would when we watch TV or our phone. Overall, try to figure out what the best break is, and then do it!

I get it, it is very difficult to take a break from the craziness of life. It is easy to get caught up on working nonstop... but we won't last very long if we keep going without time to breathe. If taking breaks is hard for you, I want to encourage you to try just one suggestion this week. You never know, it could change the way you live your day-to-day life! You can do it- I know you are going to do great things!

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