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Cleveland Clinic study finds mental health "breaks" help with mental state

The study found moms struggle the most with maintaining their mental health.

CLEVELAND — It seems our mental health is most exhausted when we're at our busiest. A new survey from Cleveland Clinic and Parade Media finds taking a "bite size" approach to improving our mental health can lead to long term benefits.

The survey finds 46% of Americans surveyed credit small breaks in their day to a better balance mentally. This typically looks like 5-to-10 minute breaks filled with activities that relieve stress, depression, and/or anxiety. The survey finds 70% of Americans believe that these shorter breaks are even more beneficial than taking one 30-to-60 minute break. 

The survey also finds more than one-third of Americans still suffer from poor mental health. Those correspondents rate their mental state as average or low and say they grapple with anxiety (45%), sadness and depression (36%), and anger (34%) at least once a week in the last month. They also report not doing enough to improve those conditions.

Less than half surveyed exercise regularly or spend time outside, compared to 52% and 46% of those who rate their mental health as high. Those with strong mental health also believe getting adequate sleep, movement, and socializing with others are beneficial to their mental and/or emotional health.

Moms seem to be the social category that struggle the most with making time for themselves. The survey finds that one in three mothers never or rarely spend time improving or maintaining their mental and/or emotional health, despite reporting lower levels of mental health than fathers. Almost half of mothers rate their mental health as average or low, compared to 26% of fathers who said the same. Just 17% of mothers report their mental health as “excellent."

The survey also uncovered these additional results:

  • Sex is rejuvenating for men; not so much for women. 54% of men are more likely to find having sex as refreshing after a long day compared to 46% of women. When it comes to fathers and mothers, that gap widens, with 65% of dads finding sex to be rejuvenating, compared to 44% of moms. 
  • Working can have a positive impact on your mental health. Despite the demands of balancing working outside the home and parenting, working parents report higher levels of mental and/or emotional health than non-working parents. 
  • Working does take an emotional toll. Despite being happier, working parents also report higher levels of exhaustion at 65%, higher levels of anger at 42% on an at least weekly basis.
  • Investing in employees’ mental health pays off. Roughly half (53%) of those with strong mental health said their employer considers mental health days part of PTO, compared to 32% of those with low mental health.

For more information and full results, visit Parade.com/healthynow

Editor's note: the video above is from an unrelated story on mental health published on February 23, 2022.

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