How To Plan A Mental Health Day?

What does a mental health day mean to you and do you really need one for your wellbeing?
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Mental health day is “a day off that's specifically geared toward stress relief and burnout prevention”. It is a day to recharge one’s non-physical battery.

When we exert ourselves physically, albeit from working a full day or just simply being awake, we use sleep to recharge our bodies. Whether we take a nap or flat out go to bed, the act of letting the body rest is how we recharge. But how do we recharge when we’re mentally tired? While taking a nap can help, it doesn’t fully restore our mental state of being to calm, it just puts us less stressed. Hence, you need a mental health day. 

Mental Health day
image source: freepik

If you’re anything like me, you get stressed about the idea of trying to destress, i.e. taking a day off. Sometimes, we feel guilty or hesitant to use one of our PTO days and force ourselves to show up, even if we really could use the day off. But when we’re feeling too stressed, we only end up causing ourselves and our work to suffer.

“Knowing when to take a mental health day for yourself is crucial to maintaining your overall health and well-being” - Healthline

So yeah, don’t be afraid to take a mental health day for yourself. 
Here is how you can plan a mental health day:

1. Request Time Off 

If you haven’t done so already, figure out the best day for you to take off. “If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, have trouble focusing or concentrating on work or at home, or are more irritable,” says Dr. Ashley Hampton. Thus, you definitely should take that mental health day immediately. But even if the stress levels aren’t high, you should still take a day off to relax your mind. 
If you have a lot of days saved, take one or a few of them. A lot of companies will give you PTO or paid time off per pay period. For instance, when I worked for a mental health facility, I received one day of paid sick and vacation leave for every month I worked. So if I worked for, let’s say ten months straight with no days off, that was ten sick days and ten vacation days to take all at once or take some now and save the rest for later. And if you have too much PTO, say like a month or more, the company would force you to take some time off. So take advantage of the time off your company allows you. 
For those jobs that don’t offer paid leave, most companies will shut down for the holidays. The major holidays that most companies take off for our New Year’s Day (and sometimes New Year’s Eve as well), Martin Luther King Day (unless you are Arizona, I think), Easter (Good Friday), Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Thus, you can plan your day off around a day that the company won’t be open and won’t have to stress out about work.

2. Plan Your Day 

Now that you’ve scheduled your day off, plan what you’re going to do. Now you don’t need a rundown of what you’re going to do from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Treat this day off the same way you would a sick day, by doing “things that make you feel better.” 
For me, I watch either Disney movies or Miyazaki films. And even though I’ve seen all of these before, just watching them brings me joy or reminds me of a time when I was happy. But you don’t have to do what I do. You could try an at-home spa day, or yoga, doing laundry if that’s the kind of thing that relaxes you. “Just make sure whatever you’re doing makes you feel more at ease and relaxed.”

3. Don’t Plan Anything That Doesn’t Serve You

The whole point of a mental health day is to relax the mind. While on your day off, if you decide to do laundry, only do it if it helps to relax you. Don’t do it simply because it has to be done. It will be there tomorrow, and you can get it then. And that doesn’t just go for laundry. Don’t learn how to knit or get a facial if you’re not sure it will make you feel better.

4. Silence The Digital Noise 

In a digital age where everything happens online, it can be hard to silence that siren song, especially when it has such a great ringtone. And we’ll create a million excuses to tell ourselves we can’t. What if someone gets hurts or needs me? What if I need to make a phone call? How will I order food? The list goes on. 
However, there are ways you can silence the world within your electronic devices. One way is to silence your phone and then put it out of sight. But if that makes you uncomfortable, another suggestion is to text friends and family and let them know that you don’t want to be disturbed during the hours of so and so, on the day of so and so.

Yes, I am aware that most smartphones have a ‘do not disturb’ mode, where you won’t be bothered with texts or phone calls. However, you can still access these texts and calls by simply opening the phone. If you truly don’t want to be disturbed, ask your loved ones to give you your space unless it is an emergency. And of course, you simply could just turn off your phone. 
Although, an addendum to my suggestion. Before silencing or turning off your phone and asking love ones for space, take care of all your phone needs beforehand. So tweet that tweet, send that text, make that call, order some food, play a few rounds of the game (Wordscapes for me), and then tell the world your offline before you disconnect.

5. Ignore the Guilt 

A lot of the time, we’re made to believe that thinking about oneself is selfish and self-care can come across as selfishness. And that’s simply not true. Self-care, me time, a mental health day, they are all things you need to be a better you. So don’t let the opinions of others sway you from taking care of yourself. Because they are opinions, not facts. And who better to know what you need and take care of your needs than yourself. 

At the end of it all, this mental health day is for you to replenish, recharge, relax, and reset yourself back to a sense of calm. So if you take a mental health day but spend the whole worrying over all the things you need to do, or things you may have missed out on doing, then it’s all for naught.

If your mental health day is adding to your stress, you’ll need to try a different approach. But you still need to take the day. So figure out what works for you and have it until. Because you need to take care of the mind just as much as you take care of the physical you. 

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