6 Ways to Take a Break Before You Break Down

Health & Wellness

Photo by @megangalante

As previously seen on Wit & Delight

Editor’s Note: We’re sharing this post Kate originally penned last year, for anyone who needs a reminder to care for their mental health right now. Please take care of yourselves, and of others, and be safe.


One of the privileges of working for oneself is the ability to take a mental health day when needed. However, for many of us, taking a full eight hours off of work to focus on our well-being is a luxury that isn’t available. So what does one do when they are at the end of their proverbial rope and just can’t?!

With or without sick days, here are a few rituals I practice when the storm inside my brain is raging.

1. Stop and breathe

This is one of the simplest things to do that’s also, at least for me, often one of the most difficult. When I’m in panic mode, I’ve found it’s best to pause and be still. If I find a quiet corner of the studio and focus on even breaths, typically I am calmer and have a clearer head.

2. Take a walk

When sitting and breath control isn’t enough, I walk. Or, in reality, I pace—taking laps around the office, without any purpose or destination, just to move my body. If I’m feeling particularly “stormy,” I’ll climb stairs or do a lap around the parking lot. Often a change in temperature will shake these feelings loose.

3. Give your body fuel

I’ve lived long enough with my mental illness to know when things will go from “manageable” to “NOPE.” At times, I can stave off some of the feelings of chaos by staying hydrated and eating something healthy (or, let’s be honest, chocolate or some chips). Knowing that I stress eat, I do my best to start with water and go from there.

4. Meditate

One does not have to lie prone or in the lotus position to meditate. From what I’ve learned, meditation is to be fully in the moment. Lately, I’ve found meditation in painting and drawing. I’ve been known to escape to my car for ten minutes to listen to really, really loud rap as a form of meditation. On a recent trip to L.A., I purchased a singing bowl that I use on occasion to mark the beginning and end of daily rituals like a long session of writing or designing. I’ve found it helps me pause for a moment of gratitude and celebrate the small daily accomplishments that deserve notice.

5. Have a good cry

Sometimes, it just feels flat-out fantastic to cry. It’s catharsis, in one of its purest forms.

6. Sleep

When all else fails, I take a nap. I’ve learned that oftentimes a problem is not nearly as big, the task not nearly as scary or overwhelming as it appears to be when I am tired. As much as I would LOVE to take an hour off to sleep, often 10-15 minutes of shuteye on the couch is what I need to get going again.

How do you weather the storm?

BY Kate Arends - June 6, 2020

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This is beautiful, much needed advice. I, too, go for a walk when it’s getting a little too much. Often I don’t even know what to do next – but I tell myself to just walk and see what happens. Also your idea of starting with water to avoid stress eating is so helpful – I definitely need to apply that.

Thank you for this list. <3 Stay well.

Jo | With Risa

Kathleen Mason

Thank you!!

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