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Going on a 'mind break' is something you should seriously consider

Going on a 'mind break' is something you should seriously consider

This person took a 'mind break' for a week - their experience is eye opening

When you first meet me, I’m not necessarily someone you might think struggles with their mental health. I’m chatty, I’m sociable and I’m confident. But, like many people, I experience anxiety and low mood. I’m sensitive, emotional and a chronic overthinker.

Looking after my mental health is easier said than done. It’s this thing that I know I should deal with but, short of strapping a facemask to the back of my head to protect my brain, it’s difficult to know where to start. So, I’m going on a week-long ‘mind break’ to start on a path to better mental wellbeing.

To kick off the week, I start by taking the NHS Every Mind Matters quiz. It’s five multiple choice questions and you get a personalised mental health action plan with advice on how to get started on being kind to your mind.

These are the six personalised tips I received:

  1. Relax the muscles and mind with a 10 minute exercise
  2. Try Beditation, another relaxation exercise to help with sleep
  3. Move more every day with links to three at-home workout videos
  4. Focus on quality time with friends and family
  5. Try a free online course from the Living Life to the Full website
  6. Download the CatchIt app to track challenging thought patterns


Ok, so I have a plan. I like having a structure but I can be guilty of going at things full pelt and wanting everything to miraculously transform. So, for me, the first day is all about accepting where I am right now and setting things in motion.

Taking inspiration from the Mind Plan, I make time for relaxation. I register for an online course and commit to using the CatchIt app to reflect on challenging thoughts. I like running and yoga, so I schedule at least one of these each day. I try out the breathing exercise to relax my muscles and mind, and save the Beditation video for later. I’ve already made plans to see some friends for dinner. Everything is falling into place. I’m going to nail this.


Oh, hold on a second. Today is a stark reminder of how closely connected mental and physical health are. A few too many glasses of wine at dinner led to a crappy night’s sleep. Exercise and plans go out of the window. Oops.

I’m trying to not be too hard on myself and realise that setbacks are just part of the process. This is important. I use 'Catch It' to reflect and I go out for a walk. At night, I practise Beditation to help me drift off. These small steps to move, reflect and form good sleeping habits seem huge on a day where I don’t feel like doing anything at all. I decide to cut the booze to help give myself a fighting chance at making positive changes.


I’m back on track, starting the day feeling productive and positive. I’ve got a big week of work next week so I spend time preparing. Later on, I start to feel a little anxious about what I’ve got coming up. I try to breathe through it, do the exercise to relax my muscles and let things pass.


It’s like there’s a storm brewing in my head. A few things haven’t quite gone to plan with work and I’m in a spiral of negative thoughts. I also can’t help getting down about the fact that this week of improving my mental health isn’t going well. I’m doing everything “right” so why am I feeling like this? I’m supposed to be all rainbows and positive vibes, but instead I feel on edge and overwhelmed. But it’s early days and I shouldn’t feel bad about it.

I decide to phone a friend - someone I trust who helps me get some perspective. I let it all out. It’s not pretty. I say things I don’t mean. I cry a lot. It doesn’t make everything disappear but I feel good knowing that I’ve got out of my own head. I realise that I’ve been getting upset about being upset, feeling anxious about my anxiety. I take some time to write down how I’m feeling and resolve to give myself a break in future.


My mind still feels busy this morning, so I immediately go for a run. All those things they say about exercise clearing your head are so true. It feels like the last thing I want to do but, wow, what a difference. I feel clear-headed, alert and also this sense of achievement for just getting out.


I feel like I’ve weathered the storm. Even though things haven’t quite gone to plan, the steps I’ve been taking to focus on my mental health each day have meant that I’ve had more headspace to make healthier choices in general. I’ve been eating well, I’ve moved every day, and, since the dinner party, I’ve not had any more alcohol. All this means that generally I’m feeling healthier and energised.


Today, I’m reflecting on a fairly turbulent but eye-opening few days. Looking back, it’s not the glowing mind break I expected to have. It was messy at times and it was difficult. But what I’ve realised is that working on my mental health takes practice. It isn’t a crash course I can take for a week and suddenly “fix” myself.

For me, the things that really helped this week were exercise and setting aside time to relax and reflect. What works for you might be totally different. Just go at your own pace. P.S. if you own an Amazon Alexa and you are in the UK, you can simply ask Alexa for the NHS Mind Plan . All you need to say is “Alexa, start my Mind Plan”. Alternatively, you can take the online quiz and find ways to be kind to your mind on the NHS website:

Featured Image Credit: Credit: yogakalyanii & einfach-eve

Topics: Mental Health