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Surprising Reasons Why Spring Break Matters for Your Mental Health


Surprising Reasons Why Spring Break Matters for Your Mental Health

  • Mental Health

It’s no secret that in the U.S. being productive in your life – professionally and personally – is seen as a badge of honor. The idea of resting in the form of an afternoon nap, taking a mental health day to recharge, or using every single hour of your PTO is often judged or only seen as acceptable if earned through countless hours at the office.

In 2019 it was reported that American workers left 768 million days of vacation on the table and of these unused days, 236 million were completely forfeited meaning $65.5 billion of benefits were lost. In a culture that praises productivity, it begs the question – what is the mental health cost of all work and no play?

In this article, we will delve into the reasons why spring break matters for your mental health so you can step out of guilt and into self-care.

Why Spring Break Matters for Your Mental Health

Your body needs to recharge. It’s not rocket science. We are not robots. We can’t expect to keep going and going without rest – that way of living is what leads to burnout and illness. The word disease itself literally translates to dis-ease, meaning the body is not at ease. When you take a week or two off for spring break vacation, you are making the conscious choice to put yourself at ease. Now, it is important that when you do take a vacation, you’re not plugged into your phone the whole time, answering emails. Many Americans have normalized this behavior, but even sitting on the beach under a warm sun can still be stressful if you’re reading work emails. Step away from work when you are on vacation. The world will keep spinning.

It’s good for your mind. Neuroscientists have found that continuous exposure to stress can alter your brain structure and lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. When you take a spring break vacation and commit to relaxing activities like slowly enjoying breakfast, taking a bike ride, or enjoying a day at the spa, you are putting your mind at ease while inviting the body to heal from current and past stresses.

Improved Family Relationships. A benefit that most don’t realize with taking a spring break vacation is that relationships are often made stronger by it. Spending time with loved ones outside of the normal routine allows us to connect and cherish our bonds. Be open to trying new activities together while on vacation like going on a family hike or taking a cooking class. Experiencing new things together helps reignite passion that may have been buried with the overwhelm of daily life.

Boosted Happiness. Studies show that even the planning that goes before a trip can boost happiness for individuals. Having something to look forward to like splashing in the ocean, visiting a museum that you’ve always wanted to see, or staying in a cozy hotel room can evoke the feeling of excitement weeks before you even leave for a trip. Once you arrive to your destination, remember to be present. Even on vacation, we can stay conditioned to always wait the for next moment that we forget to look around at the current one. The real beauty in this life is often found in seemingly small things – the sun on your neck as you walk alongside the ocean, waking up without rushing anywhere, enjoying the sunset from the peak of a mountain. This, friends, is the good stuff. Be there for it.

High Self Worth. Lastly, taking a spring break vacation is imperative for your mental health because you are living in high self-worth by prioritizing your wellbeing. When we choose an unhealthy work-life balance by leaving PTO hours on the table every year, working long hours into the night on a regular basis, and subscribing to workaholic behavior, we are telling ourselves, our family members, and the world that our sanity, wellness, and mental health simply don’t matter enough to us; that we are willing to forgo our own joy and health for a paycheck or validation. Your worth is not based on how busy you are. Read that again. While being able to provide for yourself and loved ones is important, in the long run it doesn’t lead to fulfillment. High self-worth behavior like taking vacation will change your life, so what are you waiting for?

If you are someone who would love to take a spring break vacation, but simply can’t afford to go anywhere, you can always have a staycation in your own city; you can even stay in your own home. Take a few days off and explore different parts of your hometown. Maybe try a new restaurant, let yourself sleep in, make yourself a yummy meal, have a movie night in the middle of the week, do a face mask, take your family to an adventure park! It doesn’t matter what activities you choose as long as you choose something that gets you out of your day-to-day routine and into something new. The best way to get unstuck or out of a rut is to change up what you’re doing. Give it a go and watch your life change for the better. We’re rooting for you!

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When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.