The importance of taking regular breaks

Since my initial breakdown about 10 years ago, I've been on the bumpy road to recovery, with all the ups and downs that go with it. On a particularly bad “down” I have on several occasions experienced a full-blown relapse and hospitalisation. However, more often I have what I would call a “wobble” - mental health symptoms that are concerning but (thankfully) can be managed within the community.

Each “wobble” is an opportunity to learn how best to take care of my mental health. For me, it’s important to look after myself holistically and I would include my physical and spiritual health also. A few months ago I had a worse “wobble” than usual and it scared me. Luckily I caught it in time, however I felt very strained and in need of a break. I spoke to my Psychiatrist who pointed out that, whether you have a history of mental illness or not, we all need breaks.


Taking this on board I resolved that in future if possible I won't let myself get to the point of feeling strained before I take a break. Instead I would schedule in regular breaks in a way that would be both enjoyable in and of themselves, and also help to prevent feeling overwhelmed before it got that far. 

With this resolution in mind, I booked an Open Reflective Day (with option to stay over the night before) at The Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s. This is based near Limehouse in London, and is described as “an extraordinary urban oasis”. 

I arrived at 4pm on Sunday 10th December as I had paid to stay over the night before. On arrival I received a friendly and efficient greeting from the receptionist. I had time to settle into my en-suite room, explore the garden and communal lounge, shower and do some reading before having my tasty pre-booked supper at 7pm. An early night followed. 

The Open Reflective Day itself was on the Monday. There were a mixture of services in the Chapel throughout the day which people could attend if they wanted. There was also a Spiritual Director called Sarah (an experienced listener) on hand to speak with us 1to1 if we wished. I availed myself of this offer and Sarah and I spoke pleasantly for the allotted half hour, which ended with Sarah praying for me. We were treated to plenty of healthy and delicious food and drink. During periods of free time, people could work, read, sleep and so on. 

Overall it was a brief but lovely 24 hours. This was my first experience of St Katharine’s but one which I hope to repeat, in keeping with my initial resolution to schedule in regular breaks. 

You may want to reflect on what you have learned through your ups and downs?

Could you be in need of a break?

For further information about The Royal Foundation of St Katharine, follow this link:

Bryony Bennett

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