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7 Signs You Need To Take A Break For Your Mental Health

Never-ending tasks and commitments can tire your mind and take a toll on your mental health. But now is not the time to shy away from taking a mental health break. Find out the early signs of being distressed to bring a positive change in your life.

By Ameya Arora
07 May 2022

To be in a state of good mental health does not mean that everything is perfect and there are no problems in life, it’s quite the opposite actually. Good mental health is a state that when problems arise, you can deal with them constructively. You feel motivated to recognise the problem areas, and actively work to overcome them, instead of succumbing to stress.


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Meeting deadlines, finishing assignments, looking after household chores, planning for the future—it can all be a bit much. By the time you finally lay down on the bed hoping to sleep peacefully, your mind is already overrun by worries for the next day.

There may also be times when you realise that you’re super tired but still shy away from taking a ‘mental health break’ only because it is not given enough importance by your workplace or society. Dr. Shreya Chakravarty, a psychologist at Apollo Health City, Hyderabad, with 10 years of work experience shares that she observed a significant increase in the number of people experiencing burnout because they were unable to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Taking some time off to rejuvenate, relax, and refresh is neither encouraged nor appreciated at the workplace or at home.


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Whether you are overworked or overwhelmed, suffering from an illness, or suffering from low motivation and energy, taking some time off from your chaotic lifestyle can act as a catalyst to improve your well-being. When you take a break with the intention to relax your mind, you begin to feel physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier.


How Do I Know That I Am Stressed?

Symptoms of stress or burnout vary from person to person. One person might experience headaches while another person might experience anger issues. Dr. Shreya suggests that a person might be stressed if they are experiencing:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Upset stomach
  • Undereating or overeating
  • Temperamental issues
  • Substance dependence
  • Fatigue


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Risks Of Not Taking A Break

“Your body is designed to adjust to short bursts of stress. However, when the stress is prolonged and the symptoms go unnoticed, it may give rise to serious health issues,” says Dr. Shreya. These issues might include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes
  • Digestion issues
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety


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Signs That You Need To Take A Break

All of us respond to stress in unique ways, similarly, the signs of being stressed are also unique to each individual. However, Dr Shreya mentions some common red flags that apply to most people. Hence, if you are experiencing one or more of these signs, it may be time for you to plan some downtime for your mental health.


1. Drained Out

Is ‘tired all the time’ a frequent complaint for you? If you feel that you are tired even when the day has started or you have not done many tasks yet, it may be because you’re drained out or exhausted from the ongoing pressure of work life. This might be a very clear indication that you need to take a break from the constant tensions of life.


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2. Headaches And Stomach Problems

If you’re experiencing unexplained physical health issues, it may be linked to your mental health. Mental illness is not just in your head, it can be felt in the rest of your body too. Being stressed can reflect itself in different physical forms such as stomach pain or headache. When high levels of stress cause stomach pain or headaches, it is called psychosomatic. At such times, you may also experience pain, high blood pressure, dizziness, or trembling.


3. Self Doubt And Lack Of Motivation

A little self-doubt about one’s performance is healthy and normal. After all, we all have had situations when we questioned our abilities, whether we are doing enough, or taking the correct decision. However, when self-doubt begins to manifest itself in the form of negative self-talk, and becomes a habit, it can hamper your growth. If a person frequently criticises themself, sooner or later they may begin to feel less motivated to grab new opportunities in life.


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4. Poor Performance

Being stressed or not feeling ‘mentally healthy’ for a prolonged period of time can impact your productivity. A stressed person who is thinking about the uncertainties of the future and other pressures of life is most likely to be unable to meet the deadlines at the workplace as compared to a person with a relaxed, calm, and composed mind.


5. Being Cynical

With growing age people tend to develop a more realistic or practical view of the world. This practical view includes being sceptical and critical of the world around you. However, when this practical viewpoint takes the form of a negative mindset, it might make a person cynical. A cynical person is the one who frequently focuses on the worst in people and expects them to behave negatively. Dr. Shreya says that such cynicism may be linked to stress and anxiety. Always acting cynically can also impact a person’s long-term well-being and happiness.


6. Sleep Disturbance

Poor mental health can affect your sleep in different ways. If you are stressed, you might experience racing thoughts and overthinking, the moment you hit the bed. This can cause you to lose your sleep. Severe mental health conditions like depression can cause you to oversleep. Whatever may be the case, stress can lead to disturbances in your sleep which can, in turn, cause other physical and mental problems.


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7. Faulty Coping

Sometimes being too stressed or exhausted can make you vulnerable to faulty measures of coping such as smoking and consuming alcohol. Some people smoke as a means of ‘self-medication’ against stress, yet this only adds to the problem.


Actionable Tips You Can Adopt To Take Care Of Your Mental Health

Mental health is regarded as the foundation for a healthy life. It affects how you experience and respond to situations around you. Sometimes the pressures of life can take a toll on your mental health, but the good news is that once you have identified the signs of being stressed, you can work in the direction of improving your mental health. Dr. Shreya shares the tips below:


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1. Exercising

Regularly exercising can be a game-changer when it comes to improving your mental health. Being active can elevate your mood which has a positive impact on various areas of your life. Walking daily for 30 minutes or an hour; deep breathing; yoga; mindfulness meditation; stretching are a few practices that you can undertake and include in your routine.


2. Positive Attitude

“Acceptance that sometimes things may go beyond control and a positive attitude and approach to deal with the problem is important”, says Dr. Shreya. According to her, an assertive attitude is important as it helps you to take control and devise a proper action strategy to deal with a stressful situation.


3. Pursuing Activities Of Interest

Having a hobby and doing things that interest you are a great way to spend your spare time and unwind from your daily routine. This helps you to channelise your energy in a positive direction and also helps you take your mind off the hectic life.


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4. Following A Healthy Diet

Poor mental health is also caused when your body lacks nutrition by being deprived of healthy foods. Thus, Dr. Shreya suggests that by avoiding junk and indulgence foods, you should opt for more natural choices. These may include fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains.


5. Gratitude

According to Dr. Shreya, “practising gratitude always helps”. Try and start a gratitude journal. You may not be the type of person who likes to write, but still, try writing down a few things each day that went well. It can be a little thing as the perfect cup of tea you made or a big win such as the perfect grade you achieved. Over time, you would be amazed to see how many good things happen to you and around you.


6. Seek Support

Depending and relying upon the people you trust in situations of stress can give you the ability and strength to overcome the situation. It makes the process easier and allows you to thrive. It also enhances your self-esteem and social relations.


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