Many of have the habit of going until we are worn down. We have the desire to progress, to get things done, and to grow. However, we can end up washing out and simply running out of energy. Research has shown the value in taking breaks, stepping away from work, relaxing, and taking vacations when we can.
Whether you’re taking a day to relax with friends or going on a cruise to islands like Anegada in the British Virgin Islands, these breaks from daily commitments can be extremely beneficial for our mental and physical health. Here are a few research-backed ways you can take care of yourself by taking a break!
Get Some Sleep
The benefits of healthy sleep are quite numerous. Research has found sleep can help boost creativity, improve memory, decrease inflammation, lower stress, and decrease the risk of depression. These are just a few benefits, but a healthy night’s sleep is generally one of the best things we can do for ourselves.
It’s not always easy to fall asleep on cue or get a full night’s sleep. In recovery, you can try to make a dedicated effort to get the rest you need. Read instead of watching TV at night, take a bath, or set a regular schedule. We can find ways to make sleep and rest a priority, and understanding the importance of sleep can help us make this a priority in our self-care routines.
Like sleep, there are many benefits of meditation practice. One Mind Dharma has a great page with 29 different benefits of meditation practice, which include lower blood pressure, better digestion, better sleep, decreased anxiety, improvement in self-esteem, and better problem solving. We don’t need to be a Buddhist monk to meditate; you can do it anytime at home!
There are online meditation courses, free guided meditations on YouTube, and many ways to get started meditating. You don’t have to do long meditations to reap some benefits. Try sitting for five or ten minutes a day, and see how it helps you!
Take a Vacation
Most of us cannot just take vacations left and right, but it’s a good thing to do once in a while. The health benefits of taking vacation include lowering stress, helping the heart stay healthy, improving mental health overall, and deepening personal relationships. One of our favorite places in the world is Mexico. You can check out places like the Yucatan for a great vacation. GLCN has a list of great things to do in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding Riviera Maya.
To take a vacation, you don’t need to go half way around the world. You can find cheaper ways to take a break like going camping, finding local deals, or staying with friends or family out of town. In recovery, taking a vacation can be fun as we have the opportunity to be somewhere new with a sober and clear mind, meet new people if we go to support groups, and learn how to have fun without drugs and alcohol. You can find some of the best beaches in Mexico at https://therivieramaya.org/best-beaches-in-mexico/.
Although it may not seem like relaxing or taking a break, exercise can be incredibly beneficial for our mental health. Research continues to show that even light exercise and time spent outdoors can help enhance mood, reduce fight-or-flight response, and decrease stress. It’s a great, free, natural way to help our minds and bodies feel better.
You can get moving in simple ways. You don’t have to do anything dramatic. Try taking a walk at the end of your day, going for a short jog, or maybe taking a hike. These forms of exercise can be fun, meditative, and relaxing. Furthermore, they have incredible benefits for both your physical and mental health.
Humans are social creatures, even if you tend more toward the introvert side of the spectrum with social preferences. A social support network can help us feel safe and secure, relax and decrease stress, and give us an increased sense of self-worth. It’s a vital part of many spiritual and religious recovery programs, and is incorporated into modalities like group psychotherapy.
Spending some time with healthy friends can go a long way in helping your mind and body relax. Talking on the phone with a loved one can give you some social support, going to a movie can be great, or you can simply go on a walk with a friend (and get your exercise in too!).
These are just a few ways to take a break from the daily chaos of meetings, recovery, work, family, etc. You can find what works for you! These are five jumping off points to use in your investigation of self-care.