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Time Out

Taking some time to clear your head can help you to better manage stress and improve your productivity. It can be hard to get away from the daily grind, but if you can make the time, you’ll feel better afterwards. Below are some strategies that can help you switch off.

Know that what may work for one person may not work for another, so give them a go and see what works for you.

Fact: Taking a break is key for managing fatigue and preventing burnout.

Action: Take some time off, even if it’s only an hour, from the things that stress you out and set boundaries around that time.


  • Planning breaks in advance rather than trying to fit them in at the last minute
  • Taking a day or afternoon off work
  • Making a regular day and time to have a break, eg. every Saturday afternoon from 3 –5 pm
  • Turning off or putting away your work phone or laptop after hours or on holidays, so you are not tempted to check your emails or take calls
  • Asking others to lend a hand. You might need to ask someone to look after the kids, to cover your shift or to look after the animals while you go away for the weekend. It’s ok to ask for help, and offer it in return
  • Setting clear boundaries around your time off. Don’t willingly give up your time for a task or event that isn’t urgent or important. Your time off is a priority.

Fact: Participating in things that you enjoy is important in distracting you from unhelpful thoughts, boosting your mood and helping to maintain balance in your life.

Action: Make time to do things that you enjoy, even if it is only for 15 minutes each day.


  • Thinking about the activities you enjoy doing and setting aside time to do them
  • Setting up a time with a family member or friend to do something enjoyable
  • Making the boring things fun; make a game of tidying up with the kids or play music while in the shower
  • Searching for opportunities to join in the fun within your local area. There may be a sporting team, Men’s Shed or another group in your area you can join in on.

Fact: Paying attention to what is happening in the moment can help you cope with your worries and challenges.

Action: Do something that helps you focus on what is happening now, to prevent you from worrying about what has happened earlier or what might happen later.


  • Focusing on the now, really listen and think about what someone is saying when they are speaking to you
  • If you are reading the newspaper, put down your phone, turn off the radio or the TV and vice versa; just do one thing at a time
  • Doing a guided activity on YouTube or on a free app such as Smiling Mind which will help connect you with the here and now. This known as mindfulness
  • Concentrating on your breathing.

Fact: Thinking about and appreciating the good things in your life, otherwise known as practicing gratitude, has been shown to improve mental health.

Action: Notice the good stuff – the big things like being able to spend quality time with family and the little things like a cold drink of water on a hot day.


  • Giving back to your community by volunteering or sharing your expertise with others
  • Writing down one thing you are grateful for before you go to bed
  • Taking photos of things that make you feel good
  • Sharing one positive thing about your day with the family at dinner
  • Making sure people really know when you’re thankful for something they have done
  • Doing something for someone and expecting nothing in return such as holding the door open for someone or complementing someone on a job well done.

I’m finding it hard to get everything done already, let alone things I enjoy. Where do I start?
When we’re not feeling our best, it can be exhausting trying to fit even more in. It will probably feel difficult to begin with to plan and do ‘enjoyable’ activities. Plan to do a short activity you like and stick to it. Think about how you felt afterwards; it’s likely it felt good. Use that feeling to push yourself to do another enjoyable activity.

I feel like mindfulness is a bit hippy and not actually useful. Am I right?
Mindfulness might sound new-age and hippy but it has some strong science backing it up. Mindfulness can change the structure of your brain, helping you to feel calmer and more focused. Many people find mindfulness difficult to begin with however with practice it becomes easier. Watch this video to learn more about what mindfulness can do to our brains.

How do I ‘practice gratitude’ when I feel like I have nothing to be thankful for?
During tough times it can feel like there is nothing to be thankful or grateful for. At times during life awful things happen; the end of a relationship, the passing of a pet or loved one, prolonged drought or the loss of a job. Practicing gratitude isn’t meant to minimise these hard times, rather it’s to look for the little things to be thankful for in life despite all the difficulties we encounter. The practice can lift your mood and help you to look for the positive in life even during dark times.

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but none of these tips appeal to you, it might be time to see a professional for some more detailed info for you and your situation.