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When Was The Last Time You Took A Mental Health Break?

African American woman meditating
Photo Credit: RawPixel

Corporate and hustle cultures would have you believe the only way to achieve true success is to grind 24/7. But, we firmly believe in the power of taking breaks to reset, recharge, and resume dream chasing with renewed vigor.

[SEE ALSO: 7 Must-Haves To Make Your Shower Feel Like An At-Home Spa]

A movement for rest and swift exits from toxic work and personal situations continues to swell (including showing up in music — Beyonce’s “Break My Soul” is our summer anthem!). But, for some, there is still a level of very real residual guilt for taking time away from work, or even family and friends, to rest and recover. 

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As Oprah Winfrey once said: “Breathe, let go, and remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” And, if Auntie O said so, you know it must be okay! Here are some ways you can take a break and breathe with ease. 

Meditate or participate in guided breathwork. 

If you’re new to meditation, apps like Calm and Headspace offer up guided versions in a variety of lengths. Apple watches have a feature that guides you through one-minute deep breathing exercises that you can do as many times as you need throughout the day.

Or, you can start by just pausing to take a few deep breaths. 

Step outside for a breath of fresh air. 

Sometimes just a change of scenery, the feeling of fresh air in your lungs, or the warmth of the sun on your skin can be enough to help you feel energized and discover a new perspective. 

Take a walk. 

Whether you decide to stroll in nature or aimlessly around your city, make it slow and intentional. Allow yourself to take in all the sights and sounds around you.

women in dance class
Photo Credit: RawPixel

Move your body for fun. 

Not every workout has to have a goal attached. Create space in your schedule to move your body just for those good ol’ endorphins. Try taking a dance class, going on a scenic bike ride, or joining a social sports league.

Sneak in a lunchtime mani/pedi break. 

Making time for self-care in the midst of completing endless tasks and obligations can feel like a welcome and indulgent treat any day of the week. Schedule a lunchtime breather and relax while getting pampered. 

Read a few pages of a book or a magazine. 

Decompress by escaping into the written word for a few moments. Turn a few pages of a really good book or inspiring autobiography or read a timely article in your favorite beauty magazine. 

Make yourself a healthy meal. 

Like to cook? Take time out to lovingly craft a meal that will nourish your body and your soul. 

Asian woman unwinding
Photo Credit: KaikaTaaK

Unplug. 

We’ve all heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy.” Even if you aren’t actively comparing yourself to other people, constantly observing their lives can take you away from tuning into and being present with your own.  Unplug from phones and social media and connect to what’s meaningful in your personal world. 

Set boundaries.

It’s also important to set boundaries, as needed, around the time you’ve taken for yourself. Be clear with family or friends about when, how, and for how long you’ll need time to yourself, and let them know you’ll get back to them when you’ve finished. 

Make it easier for yourself by putting your phone in “focus” mode to help you avoid repeatedly checking your notifications, and to signal to others that you won’t be responding right away. Block off time on your calendar for breaks, just as you would with other activities. And finally, ask for help in caring for yourself in this way, whether it’s setting up baby/pet sitting, or asking someone to act as your accountability partner. 

The key to each of these activities? Make sure you’re fully present and immersed to get the most benefit out of them. 

Kim Barfield

Kim M. Barfield is a freelance writer and editor with a penchant for beauty, style, home and parenting. She’s written for websites including Madame Noire, For Harriett and Examiner.com; and been featured at PopSugar Select Fashion and Essence.com. Connect with her on social @KimBarfieldStyle.

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