5 Ways to Take An Effective Mental Health DayApr 25, 2022
You’ve Had It.
You know that feeling. The tight chest. Sweaty, nearly shaking palms. Stinging at the back of your eyes as you hold back tears. This morning, you are at your breaking point. The dog vomited all over his bed. You are trying to clean it up while your hair is drying from your shower and will be a frizzy mess by this morning’s big meeting. Your third-grade daughter, who has moderate ADHD and severe anxiety is rolling around on the floor, still in her pajamas, shouting that she is not going to school and she hates school anyway.
And you know—you need to hold it together. You need to make sure the dog is not sick and that your daughter ‘s issue with going to school is her morning anxiety talking and not something more serious going on.
But what happens instead is the dog walks through the very mess you are trying to clean up and you snap loudly at both the dog and your daughter. The dog runs under your dining table (feet still dirty) and your daughter runs to her room and slams her door, now only 15-minutes before her bus is scheduled to pick her up.
You plop down on the floor and let the silent tears flow freely.
You need a mental health day - a self-care day. A day just for you.
How can you possibly fit it in with work and homework help, piano lessons and all the household responsibilities? Sometimes self-care days can be scheduled. Neatly tied-up into a package with yoga classes registered for and spa appointments made. And that is a beautiful thing.
But sometimes, you have to give in to the intensity of the moment and throw in the towel. Give yourself a break and take a mental health day (or morning or two-hour lunch, or whatever your can fit in) to reset. Here are some tips on how to relish this precious self-care time:
- Accept the moment. Don’t feel guilty. Read that again. Honor yourself and your needs. Take two-three minutes to write down all the reasons you are worthy of this day. Breathe deep and feel good about celebrating you.
- Don’t start checking off tasks on your to-do list. Your list is there. Yes, those tasks are not going to take care of themselves. Yet, if you spend the day simply working on busy work, you may end up at the end of the day in the exact same place as you were to begin with. If there are one or two tasks that feel like self-love to handle, or will leave you in a relaxed state of mind (clearing desk clutter, perhaps), those might be worthy of tackling, but maybe add in some jamming music and a little freestyle dancing just to make it more fun and less chore.
- You don’t need to announce it. Others don’t need to know you are taking a day for yourself - not your boss, not your mom (who will ask you to pick up that dry cleaning order for her), not your best friend (who will suggest a happy hour out), and not even necessarily your spouse or significant other. This is your day and your chance to revamp.
- Escape from everyday life. What does that look like for you? Could be a transformative book or a fiction journey that takes you to a new world. Could be a mug of herbal tea (or glass of wine!) and a Bridgerton binge. Could be getting in for a last minute massage, or taking a long warm bath, basking in the silence and solitude. Might be taking a nap or a three-hour nature hike for some forest bathing. Whatever you do, make it nourishing to your body and mind, and outside of the norm. Truly give yourself space and time to revive.
- Take this feeling with you. One of the benefits of a self-care day is to remind ourselves that we can carry these moments of rest and rejuvenation with us every day. We might not have the ability to spend the day basking in relaxation, but we can find these moments—the deep breath in the car before you go into work, the extra minute in the shower letting the warm water pour over your body, the five minutes in bed in the morning where you breathe, pray, ground yourself or even just relish the peace. These are the moments we live for. The moments that fill our emotional bank and fortify us for everyday life. Make yourself aware and relish them.
MINDFUL TIP: Take a mini-break anytime by stopping and breathing consciously. Steady inhales and exhales to a count of 4 each will calm your nervous system and bring into more of a parasympathetic state (our rest and digest state of being).