The Velvet Hammer: 12.13.17

Lately, I’ve been under a lot of pressure at work and with the upcoming holidays, my stress level is just about on overload. Any advice on how to take a mental health break without feeling guilty?
-Need Some Relief Sooner Rather Than Later

We all need to take a break—and whether it’s a vacation, staycation or play-cation, it’s important to take some time off from the demands of our job to keep our stress levels in check. And forget feeling guilty! When we take a break, we’re taking care of ourselves, so we will have the stamina to do our best at work. According to mental health professionals, letting stress build up can be unhealthy and can snowball to the point where even positive events make us feel anxious. And, for you, with the added stress of the upcoming holidays, it sounds like a “mental health break” is not only in order but necessary to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

If you need a break (and your boss is on board), there are several different options, such as: a week or longer vacation, a couple of days at home, or even a few minutes during your work day to disrupt your stress level to help you get back into action. If you take a week’s vacation, be sure to prioritize rest and fun. Don’t over-schedule yourself with tourist activities or bring so much work home that when you return, you need a vacation from your vacation. Or, you might try a staycation at home, which is all about rest and relaxation and truly enjoying home sweet home. That means no household chores or dealing with regular responsibilities and, again, don’t let your work creep in. Turn off the phones, and ignore email. Let your office e-alerts do the work by letting your clients and colleagues know when you will return and that you will not have email access until then. Another option is a play-cation, which is similar to a staycation. You stay at home, but it’s all about fun as a way to recharge your batteries. You may want to take several days for a play-cation or just schedule fun into your day on a regular basis.

If none of these options are doable at the moment, learn how to take short breaks during your workday—maybe take a walk outside; if you bike to work, take a spin around the block; or take five minutes for a meditation session. These brief bursts of interruption may just boost your energy and freshen your perspective to get back in the game. Whatever you decide, make a decision to give yourself an early holiday gift and schedule a mental health break today!

The Velvet Hammer wishes you a joyous holiday season and a healthy, productive new year.

If you have a question for Joan, send it to Joan Lee Berkman is a marketing and public relations consultant.