Have a Break! How To Spend Your ‘Mental Health Day Off’
“It’s never overreacting to ask for what you want and need.” – Amy Poehler
When you’re too stressed out and anxious, don’t you just want to switch off your mind and focus on your health? I know I need to do that when life, in general, becomes overwhelming for me. There are times when I just want to curl up in my blanket with my favorite book – and maybe a cup of hot chocolate – and just shut off my mind for a few hours.
Our mental health is important. As important as our physical health. So why do we take leave when we feel physically sick but refrain from doing the same when we are mentally exhausted and tired? Why do we feel guilty for taking care of ourselves when we need to?
Holidays and the New Year can bring lots of anxiety and stress to them. Not to mention the winter season can make many people sad and depressed. People with seasonal affective disorder, especially, can feel depressed and anxious right around this time of the year. Taking a mental health day for yourself isn’t that difficult.
When the world and life become overwhelming and you aren’t able to concentrate on your work, school, or at home, take a break from it all and take care of yourself. In this article, I’ll talk about some low-cost yet effective ways you can treat yourself to a mental health day.
Ways To Spend Your Mental Health Day
Before taking a mental health day off – check your feelings and emotions. What is it you need to take a day off for? Are you stressed? Anxious? Burned out? Or just too fatigued and tried to do anything productive? Plan your day before you take a day off.
On your day off, you can:
1. Breathe In. Breathe Out
On your day off, the first thing you need to do is take a deep breath, centre your mind, and relax. You can relax by trying deep breathing exercises, meditation, or you can get sweaty! Exercise – cardio or aerobics – can help too! The aim is to take a break and focus on your needs – emotional, mental, and physical. Get those mind and body muscles working? If you feel like it, go on a nature walk or join a nature gym.
2. Organize Your Space
It might not sound so amazing but organizing and cleaning your space can be very relaxing. A messy and cluttered home can increase your anxiety not help reduce it? It is proven that cluttered and disorganized spaces can impact our psychological health. Start small with your desk or your nightstand and then move on to bigger spaces like the kitchen or living room. So take up that broom and dust off!
Also, it will be good for your mental peace if you donate the things you’re not using anymore. Old things that we don’t require anymore use up a lot of space not only in our home but in our minds. Donating them to people in need can have a positive impact on your health.
3. Tend To Your Garden
If you have a garden, no matter big or small (yes, plants count), then spending some time to tend to them can also be beneficial for your health. In a study, it was found that gardening helps reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. If you don’t like gardening, then I suggest you spend some time in a garden or a park surrounded by nature.
4. I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice-Cream!
Remember when times were simpler and all you wanted to do was to track down an ice-cream truck after dinner? When we are stressed our body craves sugar of some kind. Sugary things like chocolate and ice-cream can help you feel less frazzled. It also makes us feel happy! I love eating a big scoop – okay, maybe two or three big scoops of chocolate ice cream when I’m too stressed and anxious.
What flavour of ice-cream are your go-to?
5. Sit Still
You’ve taken a day off to care for your mental health but you don’t know what to do? Don’t worry, sitting still in a quiet place can also be good. Praying, or practicing loving-kindness-meditation can be helpful. If you want, you can also seek out a quiet outdoor space, sit in silence, and just absorb the sounds of nature around you.
Listen to the birds tweeting, the leaves rustling, or the crickets chirping. Just be present and live the moment.
6. Listen, Read, Watch…
Like I said before when I’m too stressed I like to curl with my favorite book. Reading helps me de-stress. You can try listening to music, or a podcast; read your favorite book; or watch your favorite movie or TV series. Trust me, there is no better way to keep stress out than doing what you love the most – all day long.
Volunteering can also help you relax. Take your neighbor’s dog for a walk, plant a tree in your garden, buy a coffee for someone, or donate something to a shelter. Volunteering can help reduce depression, increase the quality of your life, and improve your general wellness.
8. “Go Blue”
In the book, Blue Mind, marine biologist Wallace Nichols writes, “People can experience the benefits of the water whether they’re near the ocean, a lake, river, swimming pool or even listening to the soothing sound of a fountain.”
Being near a water body can help you feel relaxed not only emotionally or mentally but it can also improve your physical health. Our bodies are 70% water, so is the Earth’s surface. This connection to water can help increase blood flow to hearts and brains, make us more creative and calmer, and listening to the sounds of water can induce relaxation.
You don’t have to search out a body of water though. A hot water bath, shower, or sitting near a fountain can help too.
On A Personal Note
There is so much to our taking care of our mental and emotional health. You don’t need to be diagnosed with a disorder or mental condition to take a mental health day. Take a day off if you feel exhausted or tired mentally and emotionally. Working in a bad mental state will only affect your productivity in the end.
If you do take a day off, make sure you spend the day taking care of yourself as well. I’m a nurturing person by nature and I feel good if I’m taking care of others. If you’re someone who seeks peace in helping others – do! But don’t neglect yourself in the process.
The best part of the above-mentioned activities is that they literally cost you nothing. Taking care of yourself is easy, efficient, and cost-effective!
Do what makes you happy. If watching TV, cooking, reading, laughing with others, or doing nothing all day makes you feel relaxed then do that. Make taking care of yourself your priority. How will you take care of others if you’re not healthy and happy?
“Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax.” – Matt Haig
Stay safe, stay healthy, and take care!