The Importance of Taking a Break for Optimal Health
Sometimes, you need to work, but others, you just need to take a break for your mental sanity and optimal health. If you are the kind of person who tends to exercise too much, works too much, or just stresses too much, take a break, take a deep breath, and read this article.
Life is too short. That is a cliché, but a true one. And you need to take a break sometimes. Otherwise, you end up becoming burnt out or sacrifice a lot of nice things in life. We have been on holiday recently, and it forced me to step away from my usual routine of working too much. I cannot help but get overexcited.
However, it really is important to slow down and take a break every now and then. Here is why:
You Get a Better Quality of Life
Optimal health is not just about what you eat and how much you exercise, but it is also about having a balanced lifestyle, making time for fun, and spending time with friends and family. It is about getting enough sleep, taking some time to stop and smell the coffee, experiencing new things, and living a great life overall.
What is an optimal state of health if being as healthy as possible is not helping you to live your best possible life? That is a life where you make time for the things that you enjoy.
It Reduces Stress, Which Gets You Closer to Optimal Health
Reducing stress is probably one of the most important things that you could do for your health. When stressed, your cortisol levels increase, which can then cause various problems, such as the inability to sleep, digestive distress, accelerated ageing, etc.
Taking a Break Gives You Perspective
When you take a day off to relax or go on holiday for a week where you do not work or exercise as intensely as usual, you can evaluate your current approach to getting to an optimal state of health.
If you are way too relieved that you do not have to do something, for me it would be really intense workouts like high-intensity interval training, then perhaps you can try a new approach after your break is over. Skip the HIIT workout or boot camp class, and go to a trampoline park or dance class instead. Go mountain biking, go climb a wall… do anything physical that intrigues you.
It Forces You to Take Care of Yourself
When you are too rushed, overworked, or overtrained, chances are that you are not taking care of yourself as well as you should. On your off days or while on holiday, you are giving yourself time, which you usually would not have available, to do things for yourself, such as:
Taking a long, warm bath instead of a cold shower.
Treating yourself to a massage.
Taking a walk in the park and getting some vitamin D through sunlight exposure instead of just driving past it.
Having a delicious cup of tea or cocoa while reading a book.
Getting a haircut.
Catching up on some sleep.
Eating some healthy food during a meal with friends instead of eating behind your desk.
Getting a facial.
Your Muscles Will Recover Properly
If you do not take proper breaks in between workouts, and between sets during workouts, you can quickly become overtrained, which will then negatively affect your performance and get in your way of becoming your optimal self.
Rest in between sets if you are doing some type of resistance training, and try not to work out for too long at a time or too frequently. Some people exercise for hours a day, which makes sense if you are an athlete aiming for optimal performance, but you also have to consider the fact that when you train intensely for too long, your cortisol levels increase.
If you rest properly, your muscles and the rest of your body will be able to recover a lot better, which will help you maintain an optimal level of physical performance.
It Calms Your Sympathetic Nervous System
Your body has a sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. By stepping away from stressful things, such as emails, intense workouts, traffic, etc. and doing relaxing things, such as meditation, walking in the garden, etc. you can calm your sympathetic nervous system and get into a parasympathetic state and take a break from being in fight or flight mode.
To achieve optimal health, you need to take a break every now and then. It is fun to have fun. It may sound silly, but I have fun doing work for my blog(s), so I can easily end up working on something related to it every chance I get. I wrote this blog post as a reminder to myself that it is okay to take a break and slow down.