7 Reasons You Need More Than A Vacation — You Need A Mental Health Break

Whether it's a day off like Madalyn Parker took, or an 8-month road trip, we all need a break.

benefits of vacation mental health Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

The United States is the only OECD country that doesn’t require employers to provide any paid leave to its employees.  

“Compared with Australians (at least 4 weeks off, plus 10 public holidays), Brazilians (22 days of paid leave with a 33 percent salary vacation bonus) and the French (at least 5 weeks off and as many as 9 for many public employees), we are seriously bereft," writes Steve Mazie over at The Big Think.


And what about those of us who decided to go the self-employed route? Sure, I love being the boss of me, but for those of us in that boat, time off also means no income.

And that’s a drag.

But this week, a truly inspiring woman named Madalyn Parker was praised by her boss for using her sick day to take a mental health day. His response to her went viral.

What an enlightened human being he is for recognizing her need to take a breather, and praising Madalyn for being proactive in her pursuit of balance.


Wouldn’t it be nice if more bosses were like that?

Heck, wouldn’t it be great if the country recognized the benefit of time off, especially for the sake of our mental health?

Sometimes it just has to be done. I know this both professionally and personally.

After many, many, many years of self-employment, I knew I needed what might more closely resemble a sabbatical. So I sold my house and hit the road for 8 months. Then I settled into the Pacific Northwest, some 1700 miles from where I started.

I found there to be seven priceless benefits that make taking a vacation, or simply a mental health break, completely worth it — both for your sanity and your happiness:


1. Head space


There is nothing better for head space than the open road.

Listening to music and looking at the scenery, what can beat that? Going to the lake, camping, a walk outside can do the same thing.

I marveled at all the head space I had knowing all I needed to do was drive.

2. Beauty

Allowing myself to be present to the beauty of the landscape each day filled me up.


Beauty is all around us, sometimes we are oblivious to it.

Going to an art museum, or your cities art walk, looking at the sunset, or the moon, or the rain and seeing its beauty is like a little holiday!

3. Perspective


Taking a break can give one perspective, especially if you do something a little out of the ordinary for you.


Volunteering for a day, taking someone’s dog for a walk, going to a movie in a new part of town. All of these things — and more — can give us a different take on what might be happening in our own lives.

Doing what might be out of the box for us expands creativity. Driving around the country, and having to figure out where I was going to sleep every night, definitely was a perspective change.

4. Inspiration

All of that head space and perspective and beauty can’t help but ignite a little inspiration.

I actually did a lot of work on the road getting some clarity about what I wanted, and what might be next. Far more work gets done from inspiration than drudgery.


It’s too bad that we don’t remember this.

Rather than slogging along for hours at something because you think you have to get it done might be better served by a break followed by inspiration.

5. Fun


A road trip is fun.

Part of it is the surprise and delight of something different every day. Some of it is the interesting people you meet along the way.


6. Stories

You also get to collect stories along the way.

Like the time it was so windy when I was trying to camp along Elephant Butte lake that my tent was like a kite, and my neighbors had to help me wrestle it to the ground. Or the time that I stopped into this bar in the middle of nowhere near Taos, NM and visited with the childhood friend of Yoko Ono.

As far as I can tell we are here to collect stories. We might as well collect some interesting ones.

7. An empty pocket book



Okay, it’s true that there wasn’t a whole lot of income coming in during this time of travel.

Amazingly though, I never starved. I always had gas for my car, and my money did go quite far.


An empty pocket book has the unique ability to help one develop trust. And trust can go a long way in allowing many beautiful things into your life.

Sure it may not be money, but riches come in many different packages.

Time off, in our culture, generally gets a bad rap.

We think we need to be busy doing stuff in order to get somewhere. It’s bad programming really.

Of course, it also feels good when we are productive and we can see the fruits of our labor.

It can feel a whole lot better though when it comes from inspiration and it doesn’t feel like work.

And that most often happens when we take a break, when we take a mental health day, or 20.

Michele Brookhaus RSHom(NA), CCH is a homeopathic practitioner inviting you to "love living in your body." Reach her at BeyondWell.com or YonisBliss.com.