The Art of Taking a Break
Benefits of taking a break!
Have you been saying to yourself recently: ‘I can’t anymore. This is it.”
If taking a break from home life, your problems, or your children was always very important, it is probably even more critical now.
With COVID-19 continuing to spread worldwide and affecting nearly 200 countries (Source: Johns Hopkins University), the way we work and live today is changing. The uncertainty and constant changes that the pandemic brought to our lives have increased our stress and anxiety levels. Many of us face challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in both adults and children.
Before Covid, studies already showed that stay-at-home parents usually start caring for their children at around 6 am every day and finish by about 8 pm. Nowadays, with children homeschooling more, the number of errands and tasks parents need to complete daily multiplies. Parents also have to become supportive teachers during the online lessons, as well as their children’s classmates to play and have fun with during breaks.
If taking holidays has always been important, it is even more critical now: Whether we are stay-at-home parents, both working, or especially if we are working from home full time as it may be challenging to structure the start and the end of a workday.
We need a break before we break!
We know vacations are great—they’re fun, and we don’t have to work! But above this, there are some surprising benefits to our physical and mental health.
So, let’s stop feeling guilty for taking care of ourselves because it is just as important as caring for our family and being dedicated to our jobs.
Here are some key mental and physical benefits of taking a break and holidaying, whether that is in our country or abroad:
Holidays allow us to separate ourselves from situations that we usually associate with stress and distract ourselves, giving our minds other things to focus on. During our holidays we step back from the problems and responsibilities we have at work or home, and this break from the source of anxiety reduces stress levels drastically.
Improved physical health
It is proven that working without breaks may weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to viruses and other illnesses. The lack of breaks creates an imbalance in hormone levels and increases inflammatory processes that affect the immune system. Staying physically fit and providing our body with frequent rest periods prevents poor health and can reduce the chances of severe medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Improved sleep quality
Giving our minds a relaxing and peaceful break by letting go of our responsibilities will allow us to slip into deeper and longer sleeping habits, an essential process for brain function. While sleeping, our brains consolidate the information and memories of the day, which improves our mental functioning, problem-solving capacity, creativity, and memory.
Improved emotional health
There’s no doubt that just the thought of a break is enough to boost our mood. Overworking and stress make our neurons more excitable and alert, which leads to trouble sleeping, poor memory and focus, mood swings, and in some cases, more serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Holidays do the opposite and are proven to radically improve our mental health, helping us to take time to find solutions and be relaxed.
If our mind is exhausted, we will struggle to come up with creative and innovative ideas. However, giving our brain a break by doing something new helps establish connections between brain cells, improving concentration and learning processes. It also boosts our problem-solving skills, makes us more efficient, and leaves us more motivated and creative.
During rest periods, our brains process memories, sort them, and prepare us for our work and responsibilities. Holidays help us consolidate and process memories, and make happy ones.
The reduction of blood pressure and stress levels, which ultimately reduces the risk of heart diseases and diabetes, can increase our lifespan. Furthermore, the combination of all the previous benefits: the decrease of stress levels, improvement of physical and emotional health, improved sleep quality, and the boost to our productivity and memories, leads to higher life satisfaction.
For all these reasons, we must make conscious decisions to rest without any feeling of guilt. Whether we are relaxing by the pool, learning a new sport, biking, or exploring the natural surroundings on foot, having a break is hugely beneficial for our mental and physical health.