My Recipe for a Mental Break

February 2, 2013

You’re stressed. You’re tired. Deadlines are killing you. You feel like you’re pressed on all fronts of your life. Finances are tight. Family is busy.

Life is full, but it feels too full.

This was my experience recently, and I needed a mental break; some space to think, breathe, reflect, and recharge. I always feel bad taking a break—even if it is only one night away—like I’m abandoning my family. But I’ve come to realize a stressed-out and preoccupied dad (and husband) is less helpful than a healthy, recharged and focused one. Plus, my wife loves me and knows when I need time and space.


 In addition to staring out across the mountains, here is my recipe for a good mental break:

  1. Create space. Environment is so important to me. Getting away, seeing something different, a drive to somewhere beautiful. I need physical space in order to get mental space.

  2. Repent. When I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders it’s usually because I’ve made life all about me and what I do. I’ve slowly slipped into the center, rather than Jesus, and I need to correct that slip through repentance. I need to exchange the lies for the truth.

  3. Write. I clear out the log jam in my head through writing. Carrying a Moleskine everywhere allows me to flood the paper with whatever comes to mind. Some of it is organized (like this blog) and some of it is just stream-of-consciousness.

  4. Prioritize. If you bring your entire to-do list with you, a break isn’t going to happen. There are bound to be some deep-thinking, strategic items that need your time and attention, but focus on the most important. Keep a list of all the other to-do’s that pop into your head and fight for your time and attention.

  5. Listen. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s often because my own plans aren’t working so well. Listen to the Holy Spirit for correction, conviction, and focus. Where are you not aligned with the Holy Spirit? Where do you need to make changes?

  6. Fight. Fight for the truth, fight for your family, fight for your health and fight for your career. Life is a battle and it wants to swallow you up. Don’t let it.

  7. Rest. Your mind and your body need it more than you realize. Go to bed early. The universe won’t collapse. It’s good for us to intentionally rest, trusting things will not fall apart. Ideally you’ll wake up rejuvenated, and ready to go.

For me, twenty-four hours was just what I needed. It doesn’t have to be a three week vacation but you should make time regularly to get your mental break. What works for you? When was the last time you were intentional about changing the scenery?