When to take a mental health break from work
Before you push yourself to the edge of burning out, here are five signs it’s time to take a mental health break:
- You can’t focus.
- Your relationships are suffering.
- You’re showing physical signs of stress.
- Your self-care no longer exists.
- You’re running on empty.
Here’s more about each sign, plus five tips you can use to recharge your mental health at work:
1. You can’t focus
When your mind is on overdrive, the wheels are spinning so fast you lose sight of the big picture. And this ultimately leads to serious amounts of stress, plus health risks. According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “stress plays an important role in several types of chronic health problems – especially cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychological disorders.” And it doesn’t only impact employees – it impacts the company, too. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states: “Health care expenditures are nearly 50 percent greater for workers who report high levels of stress.”
What you can do: When you have too much on your plate, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s great to be a team player and push yourself to achieve high levels of productivity, but once your health is at risk it’s time to take a step back. Limit your distractions, prioritize your work and step away from your desk to collect your thoughts. Set realistic boundaries for yourself so you don’t over-commit and end up overwhelmed.
2. Your relationships are suffering
What happens in one part of your life impacts all other parts. In other words, what happens in your professional life impacts your personal life, and vice versa. When your family, friends and social life take a back seat to your work, you might find yourself feeling a little empty. When workload increases, burnout risk can rise. And while burnout can show up in employees as exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy, it can also be linked to loneliness. A new study by health insurer Cigna found that nearly half of all Americans feel lonely. Long work hours can put stress on personal relationships and responsibilities, and both your work and your relationships will suffer. Social connection is part of being human, and it’s one way to prevent employee burnout. The benefits of these connections for your overall well-being shouldn’t be overlooked, as loneliness from social isolation or exhaustion can have serious consequences.
What you can do: Consider your work and family responsibilities. Have you missed basketball games, birthday parties or family dinners to stay late at the office or wrap up a big project? When you’re too busy to be a part of your own life, take a break and give yourself the chance to catch up. Practice being present, stick to your commitments and hold yourself accountable.