A guide for young people Take time out

Whether you’re at school, college or work, life can be really busy. When we’re busy, it can be difficult to find time to rest and take the time we need to look after ourselves. But, it’s really important for our mental health that we take time out.

Why is taking time out important?


Taking time out to rest and relax not only helps our bodies to have a break, but it is also important for our mental health. It can help you:

  • calm your thoughts down if you have had a busy day or you have a lot going through your mind
  • reflect on your day and how it made you feel
  • give you time to process your thoughts
  • switch off from your work or studies
  • have time to do activities that you enjoy, like reading, writing or going for a walk
  • feel refreshed from work, studying, or revising and more focussed when you start these tasks again

Taking time out to focus on yourself can help you to feel calm and in control. Whether it’s doing a hobby that you enjoy, going for a walk or doing some deep breathing, doing something for yourself can help you look after your mental health.

Instagram artwork by @JenS. The words are in black, yellow and blue with red arrows in the middle of the text.

Text on a white background which reads: you can do anything but you don't have to do everything! The text 'anything' is yellow and in 3D. The word 'but' has two red arrows on either side of the word pointing towards it. The word 'everything' is turquoise and in 3D.

Life can get busy

When our lives gets busy, it can feel like you are going from one thing to the next without having any time for yourself. It can build up and you may not always realise how busy you are. You might start to feel:

  • overwhelmed
  • no longer in control of what is happening around you
  • anxious
  • stressed
  • panicky when a friend asks you about hanging out or you are given more work to do

If you are feeling this way, you are not alone and there are things you can do to feel better.

Take time to step back and do something that you enjoy. Whether it’s a hobby, or getting some rest, it can help you to recharge.

Tips to help you take time out

Instagram artwork by @shinetext. The words 'I accept that prioritizing isn't selfish' sit on a light blue background.

Graphic by @shinetext. There is a blue square that sits on top of a dark blue background. The text on the square reads: I accept that prioritizing my needs isn't selfish. Underneath the blue square is @shinetext

If you are struggling to take time out to look after your mental health, or you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our tips below.

Pause – try to make time during the day to take breaks. It can help if you plan ahead when that will be, especially if you are revising or doing school or uni work for long periods of time. You can write down a schedule for the day to help you remember to take breaks and when your breaks are. Pausing throughout the day can prevent stress from building up. Here are some ways you can pause:

  • Set a timer on your phone. When it goes off, stop what you are doing if you are able to, move your body position by stretching, or letting your shoulders drop.
  • Use a self-soothe box.self-soothe box contains things that ground you and make you feel more relaxed. It can have some of your favourite things in to focus your mind on and away from your work.
  • Leave time in between tasks to stop, gather your thoughts, and have some moments of quiet before moving onto something else.
  • Get a drink or snack. Going to get a cup of tea or a biscuit will give you a moment to walk away from your work, pause and give you something else to focus on.
  • Listen to some of your favourite music or a podcast. It can help pause your thoughts from what you are working on. Focussing on the beats of the music or the conversation can make you feel calm and help you switch off from the task you are doing.
Instagram artwork by @youngmindsuk. A yellow post it note sits on a white wall with a hand written note of 'make self-care a habit'.

A yellow post-it note sits on top of a white brick wall. The text on the post-it note reads: Make a self-care habit. The words 'self-care' is in a banner scroll and the word 'habit' is underlined.

Take deep breaths - taking deep breaths after a stressful situation and concentrating on your breathing can have a calming effect and help you relax.

  • Close your eyes.
  • Take deep breaths in and out.
  • Think of your favourite place.
  • Focus on the place and picture yourself there.
  • What can you see? What can you smell? What can you feel?

Imagining being in your favourite place can take you away from your current stressful situation and help you relax and calm down.

Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can help you change the way you approach challenges and see them from a different point of view. Find out more and how you can practise mindfulness from our blog ‘How I practice mindfulness to improve my mental health’.

a boy wearing black jacket smiling while wrapping his arm to his friend wearing grey jacket smiling back to him with houses and trees on background

Taking time away from screens - sometimes, it can be hard to switch off when you get a lot of notifications, messages and alerts on your phone. When you are taking time out, try to relax by reading a book, writing in your journal or listening to music. For more ways to look after your mental health while on social media, take a look at our tips and advice.

Find a hobby - a hobby away from school or work can help you switch off and take time to do something you enjoy. It can be anything, but common hobbies include running, reading, drawing and writing.

Go for a walk - going for a walk during your lunchtime at work, or after school, can help you to take a break and find time to reflect on how you are feeling.

Meet a friend - spending time with a friend can help you take your mind off whatever is making you feel stressed. Whether that’s just sending a text, going for a walk together or having a phone call, chatting to someone you trust and talking things over can help you wind down.

If you are finding things overwhelming and you are struggling to cope, talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. You deserve the support you need.

Having that alone time allows you to reflect on what you truly feel.

Tips from our Activists & bloggers

Our Activists and bloggers share their advice on how you can take time out to look after yourself.

  • My health and happiness come first, and if I want to do something that I enjoy, I can take the time to do it without feeling guilty.
  • Think how you treat someone you love. You support them when things are bad and celebrate good times. You look out for each other, do fun things, and care for each other. Treat yourself the same.
  • You may feel low but don't give up on yourself if things aren't going well. You wouldn’t give up on a friend, so why do that to yourself?
  • Listening to your body also means listening if your body needs to rest. We should also allow ourselves some alone time to recharge.
I aim to plan for the day ahead so I know what my focus is for each day. Specifically, I aim to create an adaptable routine as it’s important to understand that each day will not always go to plan.

This routine will include a range of tasks, including getting ready, my university work, scheduling the following day and having some time to relax. Personally, I think it’s important to schedule in ‘small’ and ‘big’ tasks as both are achievements to be celebrated.

I aim to create an adaptable routine as it’s important to understand that each day will not always go to plan.

Get help now

Where to get help

If your finding life hard to cope with here are some organisations and helpline services that can support you.

  • YoungMinds Textline

    Text YM to 85258.

    Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

    Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • The Mix

    Offers support to anyone under 25 about anything that’s troubling them.

    Email support available via their online contact form.

    Free 1-2-1 webchat service available.

    Free short-term counselling service available.

    Opening times:
    3pm - 12am, seven days a week