My best mental health tip— take a break


I’m currently on a three-month-long, and ongoing, hiatus from the adulting world. It is funded solely with my F**k-Off fund, and living back at home with my parents.

I’m loving it!

It has been over two years since I took a break to recharge, revaluate and rejuvenate, a practice that began circumstantially back in 2015 and has since become a cherished ritual.

The best times of my life have come right after taking a break from it all.

Long Term Breaks

Growth is never by mere chance.

— James Cash Penney

If you can afford to, financially and otherwise, a long term break from adulting can be an amazing experience.

A long term break could range anywhere from a month to a year, or even longer.

What really matters is that during the break, you remain free from work, obligations, responsibilities, and plans that create stress and anxiety in your life. Instead, you create the space to rejuvenate and regroup so that you can make decisions that better align with your needs and desires moving forward.

It might be scary at first, especially if your identity is heavily tied to your job, being a student, or any other societal metrics of success. Once you overcome these mental hurdles, however, you could go one to have one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

My first long term break happened after the third-year of my undergraduate degree. After returning back to my parents’ for summer, and unable to find a decent summer job, I decided to take a break.

After being in school and/or working for most of my adolescent years, it was hard not to be doing neither of those things. It is hard to define yourself in our society if you’re not working or in school. 

It made me feel very insecure. I soothed my ego by telling myself I got the rest of my life to work and be a real adult.

Following that summer break, I had one of the most productive, successful and rewarding years. I did extremely well academically, worked two jobs, had two volunteer positions, and even managed a decent social life. In addition, with encouragement and support from one of my professor, I applied and got accepted into graduate school.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized how important that summer break was.

Taking a break, and spending a lot of time resting and contemplating what I wanted out of life, ended up being a catalyst for my success the following school year.

Short Term Break

Often times, the daily hustle and grind mean taking a long term break can seem too idealistic, or be outright impossible. If taking a long term break isn’t feasible, a short term break can be just as refreshing and rewarding.

Short term breaks are a lot more palatable to most. After all, taking a week or two off to recharge sounds appealing and is doable for most people.

It is, however, very important that we actually dial back and take a break during this time. Take time off from work, obligations, responsibilities, and plans that create stress and anxiety.

The first semester of graduate school and everything else that was going on at that time broke me down emotionally. Undoubtedly, it was one of the worst times of my life.

Luckily, right after finals, we had two weeks off and I gave myself permission to take a break. I made zero plans and disregarded goals and commitments. For two weeks, I allowed myself to sleep in, eat junk, and waste time on whatever I wanted.

No planning for, nor worrying about, the future.

When I returned to school, I was feeling very refreshed and motivated.

I was super focused on school and work, created routines and structure to manage my schedule without feeling overwhelmed and started working out regularly. My mental health improved so much, which fuelled me to be even more focused and productive. I graduated, found a job within my field and my relationships flourished.

Taking two weeks off to myself was all I needed to recharge and recover from a very challenging time in my life.

These past three months have brought many changes and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to take another extended break. 

I have been super focused on taking care of my physical and mental health and planning for future career and life goals.

My break will be over once I get back from a month-long trip to Vancouver in mid-November.

I am actually really looking forward to getting back to the hustle of adulting, knowing a little more about myself, a little more sure of what I want, and feeling super rejuvenated.

Whether you take a long term or a short term break, it’s important to take some time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate.

There are so many resources online on self-care ideas and activities that you can use to recharge. I also recommend reading psychological and philosophical books, articles and literature to learn more about being human. It is a game-changer.

Take a break, and do not feel guilty about it. It is the best mental health tip I have found.

Until next time… 🙂

Published by Mehret Biruk

(re)discovering the pleasures of the offline world.

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