Downtime is not a luxury—it is a vital requirement of mental, emotional, and physical health.

Mental health expert Steve Orma says not taking any downtime during the day can cause everything from sleep problems and dissatisfaction with life, to burnout and significant health problems and even turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with the stress. Instead of going this route, Orma recommends individuals make having downtime in one’s everyday life a priority, adding that it’s as important as eating and sleeping.

Orma says downtime can be taken in many different ways: short breaks throughout the day, a longer break at the end of the day, or, ideally, a combination of both. “Just taking a 5-minute break during the day can make a huge difference in your stress level. Step outside, stretch your body, breathe in some fresh air, have a snack, joke around with a co-worker, it doesn’t matter, as long as you get a breather,” Orma states.