• Vivian Hirschfield

Taking a 10-Minute Break is Essential to Good Mental Health

By Vivian Hirschfield Hi readers! I tackled final exams and end-of-year responsibilities in December, but I am back with my column as 2022 dawns.


A feeling that never gets old is the tsunami-sized wave of relief as soon as I finish my last final exam of the semester. This year I was particularly nervous about my math exam, since math has never come easily to me, but as soon as it was over, I happily made the transition into the long-awaited winter break.

Winter break is a time to reset and reflect. Looking back, I was grateful for all of the work I did to grow my abilities in writing and in general -- but I wish I had taken more moments to readjust my mindset.

In fact, a practice that has proven itself to be beneficial in my life is something I like to call “taking 10.” When I’m not happy with where I am, I divert my attention to doing something good for me that takes 10 minutes or less. Making my bed, calling a friend or playing with my dogs can work wonders for me -- and might work for you too.

You don’t need to be insanely busy or under stress to take a break; all a break constitutes, in my definition, is a short period of time where you pause a task and start another, more enjoyable one. It can be easy to say, “Oh, I don’t have that much going on; I can’t be stressed out by small things,” when in reality we don’t even recognize that we feel stressed until it’s hurting us. You can prevent this by refueling your mind and body. Lately, I’ve taken time to look back on my relationships with friends and family because they are what really got me through my year, and in doing so I was able to reflect on how grateful I was for people I met in 2022 and prior.

I hope that 2022 is a year of growth, independence, and self-reflection for us. We all have goals we set for ourselves, but remember that completing them should be the end of a process with many steps -- and there should be breaks in between those steps.

Happy New Year, Lake Forest! Vivian Hirschfield is a junior at Lake Forest High School.