Have you been busy lately? Of course you have — you’re a parent! But even if things are going smoothly, your mental health might suffer from time to time. When you feel particularly overwhelmed, it’s wise to take a mental health day to help you recuperate, just like you’d take a sick day if you had a cold. Here are eight reasons why.
To Get Some Shut-Eye
No amount of coffee can substitute for a good night’s rest. Whether or not you realize it, you could be sleep deprived. On your mental health day, feel free to sleep as much as you like without setting any alarms so you can make up for lost time. You can even take more than one nap!
Getting the proper amount of good sleep can strongly influence your mood for the better. In fact, high-quality sleep is associated with better mental health outcomes, including reduced anxiety, reduced depression and improved cognitive functioning. So, the next time you take a nap, remind people that it’s not just beauty sleep — it’s mental health sleep.
To Step Away From the Screen
Do you work in front of a computer? Are you swamped with virtual conferences and client meetings? If so, consider hitting pause on the digital devices during your mental health day.
Since you have no obligations or anywhere to be, shut off your phone, TV and laptop, then give your eyes a break by reading a book instead. You could also make something out of modeling clay, organize your closet, play a board game or practice guitar. Your emails and text messages can wait.
To Eat Right
Many people simply don’t have time to cook during the week. With long commutes and short lunch breaks, your typical workday might have you rushing to the closest fast-food restaurant to grab something convenient. If that’s the case, your body is probably craving healthier food.
Use your mental health day to make a delicious, home-cooked meal, and take the time to really savor it. There are no time limits or deadlines to meet on your day off. Eating nutritious food is not only delicious, but it might also boost your mood.
To Spend Time With Your Family
Be honest: How often do you get to spend a full, uninterrupted day with your spouse or kids? The fact is that even on weekends, many people have obligations like doing laundry or running errands.
If it’s summer break or your little ones are still too young for school, a mental health day could entail hanging out with your family. Take a field trip to the zoo, read stories, play hide-and-seek or draw with sidewalk chalk together. Spending quality time with your loved ones can do wonders for your mental health.
To Get Some Exercise
Do you work in an office? If so, then you might spend a considerable amount of time sitting still. Part of your mental health day could include a walk in the park, a bike ride or going swimming at the local pool. Or, you could stay in your pajamas and do yoga in the living room — it’s all about what feels right for you that day.
Afterward, your body should feel a lot less tense. Relaxing physically might also help you unwind mentally.
To Pamper Yourself
If you’ve been under a lot of stress, you might not have given yourself much personal attention lately. Between work obligations, taking care of the kids and trying to run a household, it’s understandable if you’ve put some of your less important needs on the back burner. But you still deserve to look and feel your best.
Use your mental health day to do things you normally think of as frivolous, like taking a bubble bath, doing your nails, wearing fuzzy slippers and giving yourself a mud facial mask. If something helps you calm down, then it’s a priority on your day off.
To Clear Your To-Do List
Some people don’t feel truly relaxed unless they’ve fulfilled all their current obligations. If that sounds like you, then feel free to work on your to-do list during your mental health day. You might just need a chance to catch up on tasks you haven’t had time for. Some examples of things you could accomplish include:
- Washing the sheets
- Cleaning out a messy drawer
- Working on the garden
- Paying a bill
- Doing the dishes
- Preparing meals for the week
Getting some of these things done can really help with anxiety and depression. But remember, this is all about what works best for you, so use your mental health day however you see fit.
To Visit a Friend
Grab some lunch, have a movie night or walk your dogs together. Spending time with a good friend can make you feel invigorated and happy. Chances are, your friend has also struggled with their mental health from time to time, so consider opening up to them about why you needed the day off. They’ll probably reassure you that you made the right call.
This can lessen the shame you might feel about taking a mental health day. There is often a stigma around mental health issues, but taking care of your mind is just as important as caring for your body.
Prioritizing Your Health
The next time you feel too overwhelmed to do your job, consider taking the day off. Whether you ask your manager specifically for a mental health day is your decision, but it’s really no different than taking a day to rest when you have the flu. It’s all about healing, getting back to your normal, incredible self, and jumping back in the ring when you’re ready.