If you caught the flu or broke your arm, you would probably take time off to rest and recover. Your mental health requires the same amount of care and attention. While taking a day off may present challenges, especially if you’re on active-duty, planning a vacation is a good way to maximize mental health self-care. Studies show that taking time off can benefit you and your loved ones(link is external). It can also increase your work performance and job satisfaction.
You may think that you can’t afford to take time off, but overworking yourself can be worse for your mental health. Most of us build up stress day to day, and constant stress can have negative impacts(link is external) on your health, including:
- Difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks
- Frequent headaches
- Difficulty remembering things
- Increased risk of substance abuse and over-eating
- Impaired judgment
- Increased irritability
Finding the time to recharge can help minimize the negative effects of stress, and improve your performance when you do return to work. A few tips for making the most of your time off include:
- Stay active – Exercise and other activities that help your body can also benefit your mental health(link is external). Keep moving, even while on vacation.
- Get the right amount of sleep – Take control of your sleep schedule and make use of tips to improve your sleeping habits.
- Eat healthy foods – What you eat can affect your mental state(link is external). Whether you vacation somewhere far away or at home, choose food that is good for your mind.
If possible, try to engage your supervisor or line leader about the importance of taking time off. Real Warriors has tools for leaders that you can share to spread awareness about the importance of mental health. Good self-care can benefit both the individual and improve their ability to work at peak performance.
By Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury