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  • Writer's pictureAmy Salgado

How to Take an Actual Mental Health Day

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, the idea of self-care has become increasingly vital for managing mental and emotional well-being. Yet, it’s so disheartening to see so many of us take well-intentioned mental health days only to find ourselves busier and more fatigued than ever. The art of rest and self-care has become elusive, and it’s not uncommon that we choose to fill our mental health days with chores, errands, and a never-ending to-do list. If you resonate with this struggle, this blog post is written for you. Let’s explore the importance of true self-care and how you can master the art of rest during a mental health day - one that truly rejuvenates your mind, body, and spirit.

The Cult of Productivity

Taking a day off for mental health has gained massive recognition in recent years, which is wonderful progress. However, the unfortunate misconception is the belief that productivity and self-care are synonymous. In this society, we have the tendency to equate “self-care” with “getting things done.” We’ve associated our self-worth with what we accomplish. The unfortunate result? We leave ourselves exhausted, leaving our mental and emotional health unattended.

Understanding Self-Care

Self-care is a holistic approach to nurturing physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Self-care encompasses activities that recharge you, reduce stress, and foster inner peace. It’s about prioritizing your mental health over tasks and to-do lists.

The Struggle to Rest

Many of us find it challenging to rest. We’ve been conditioned to equate busyness with success, productivity, and self-worth. We fear being labeled as lazy or unproductive. However, it is crucial to remember that rest is not idleness; it’s an essential part of the human experience.

The Importance of Rest

Rest is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Let me repeat - rest is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Rest often feels like an indulgence we can’t afford, but adequate rest allows your mind and body to recover and function at its best. Rest replenishes your energy reserves, making it easier to tackle challenges with clarity. Rest supports better emotional regulation and resilience in the face of life’s ups and downs. Rest stimulates your creative pursuits, aiding in problem-solving and creativity. Without rest, stress accumulates, leading to burnout, anxiety, and a diminished quality of life.

The Art of Taking a Mental Health Day

Taking a mental health day should not resemble your usual routine with different tasks. It should be a sanctuary of self-care, a sacred space for rejuvenation. Here’s how to master the art of taking a true mental health day:

  1. Plan with Purpose and Intent: Schedule your mental health day in advance, if possible. Set an intention for rest and self-care.

  2. Disconnect from Obligations: Communicate your boundaries clearly to prevent work-related interruptions or commitments. The essence of a mental health day is disconnecting from daily obligations, especially work. This is your time to disconnect completely.

  3. Engage in Activities That Bring Joy: Do things that genuinely make you happy, relaxed, and truly nourished. Is there an activity that you haven’t picked up in a while? Or maybe a new hobby you’ve been wanting to try?

  4. Connect with Loved Ones: Spend time with friends or family who provide emotional support or positivity. Social connections are essential for mental health.

  5. Embrace Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness into your day. Engage in deep breathing exercises, meditation, or simply focus on being present. Even just a walk can be beneficial.

  6. Nourish Your Body: Eat nutritious meals, stay hydrated, and sleep in or take a nap. Proper care of your body supports your mind.

  7. Reflect on Your Needs: Take time to reflect on your emotional needs and what steps you can take to address them in the long term.

  8. Get Offline: Minimize exposure to screens, especially social media and news that can be overwhelming.

  9. Creativity and Expression: Engage in creative activities that allow you to express yourself, such as art, music, or writing.

  10. Set Boundaries with Chores and Errands: Resist the temptation to use your mental health day for household chores or errands! These can wait. Prioritize rest.

  11. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind and patient with yourself. You are setting out to start a new practice, and with that, we should acknowledge our attempts - no matter the size.

  12. Evaluate and Adjust: At the end of your mental health day, assess how you feel and what activities were most energy-giving. Use this insight to plan future self-care days.

Taking a genuine mental health day is a powerful act of self-care. It’s not about being productive or accomplishing tasks; it’s about self-care, reflection, and relaxation. Remember, your mental health is as important as your physical health, and taking time to nurture it is a step toward a happier and healthier you. So, the next time you take a mental health day, truly make it a day for your mental health. You deserve it.


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