Mental health days are important. They allow us to release stress and quite frankly prevent us from having a total meltdown. Burnout is very real my friend! But as important as it is to schedule these days, it is also just as important to spend these days strategically. Here are 20 mental health day ideas and 5 MUSTS to help you make the most of your next day off.
“Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ME FIRST, it means ME TOO”
When To Take A Mental Health Day
If you feel burned out and stress is beginning to become overwhelming it may be time for a mental health day. Stress and frustration can build up over time and if you are not careful, things can get to be too much. A mental health day works much like a release valve. It helps to relieve stress that has built up over time.
Here are 5 Signs It’s Time To Take a Mental Health Day
- Constant fatigue
- If you are always tired, physically, mentally and emotionally, it’s time to step away for a bit.
- Trouble Sleeping
- We all have trouble sleeping at times, but if you can’t seem to turn your mind off because of stress and being overworked, it’s time for a mental health day.
- If you constantly wake up irritated, go through the day irritated, and go to sleep irritated, take a break.
- Problems Lashing Out at Family or Co-Workers
- Sometimes your mental health day is for others as well. If you recognize you lash out too much at others, give yourself some time away.
- Feelings of Being Stuck or Trapped
- Maybe you need to take a break from it all and evaluate where you are in life. Feeling stuck and trapped means something is going on and you need a fresh perspective. Taking a day or two to relax and focus will help you get clear on what needs to change.
This Printable Self Care Workbook will equip you with the knowledge and tools to make self care an ongoing part of your life.
5 Musts When Taking A Mental Health Day
Get Enough Sleep The Night Before
One of the most important things to do for your mental health is to get enough sleep. You do not want to feel groggy, sleepy, or grumpy on your day of rest. Get more sleep by turning off all electronics an hour before bed, setting an alarm for bedtime, and if you can, use a sleep app such as Calm or Relax Melodies. Create a night time routine every night beginning at a specific time and stick to it.
Leave Work Behind On Your Mental Health Day
Do not think about work, projects, deadlines, toxic co-workers, etc. when taking a mental health day. The point is to take a break from the reasons you need a mental health day anyway.
Stay Away From Negativity
Avoid negativity if possible. If that means turning off the news or refraining from social media, then make it happen. Your mental health day should be about relaxation and positive vibes.
Do Not Pack Your Day With Tasks and Chores
Do not take a mental health day from work just to get stressed out about doing everything that needs to be done at home. If you find yourself thinking, “Well I can catch up with the laundry,” or “I can finally clean out that junk drawer,” stop! A mental health day means you take a break from it all, even household duties. The only exception is if household chores are therapeutic for you.
Reflect On Your Boundaries
If you find that you constantly need a mental health day, then perhaps you should reflect on your current boundaries or create new ones. Is your boss asking too much of you? Is your co-worker expecting you to pick up their slack? What boundaries do you need to have to protect your mental health? What things do you need to start saying “no” too?
20 More Mental Health Day Ideas
Exercise is a great way to create a healthy body and a healthy mind. Try to get your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes during your mental health day. First thing in the morning if possible. The “feel good” hormones (endorphins) will keep your mood up all day.
2. Take a Nap
If you are exhausted and need rest, then carve out some time to nap during your mental health day. It’s refreshing.
3. Connect With Close Friends and Family
Being in the company of someone you care for and admire can help make life’s stresses seem less intense. Call someone up and have a cup of coffee or have lunch together.
4. Take a Nature Walk On Your Mental Health Day
There is something about nature that heals the soul. All living beings have a connection with nature that is almost magic. The outdoors can heal and rejuvenate us. Use your mental health day to reconnect with the outdoors. A nature walk is a great way to do this.
5. Invest Time In A Hobby
What activities do you love doing? Hobbies are a great way to get your mind off of your woes and onto something that makes you happy. For example, some people find solace in cooking or knitting; others might enjoy painting or reading.
6. Get Creative
Spend some time during your mental health day being creative. Draw, paint, write, etc. It can be anything that gets your creative juices flowing.
Meditation calms the mind and relaxes the body. It can be done anywhere, in silence or with soothing music, and for any length of time. This is an excellent mental health day activity that can be easily added to your day.
8. Take a Bath
Sitting in a bath can be relaxing. A simple bath could be much more relaxing when you add Epsom salts or flower petals than normal. Motivational speaker Les Brown has said that when he wants to relax, he fills up a bath with water and he just sits in the tub for a half hour and clears his mind. If you have a favorite scented candle, you could get some of those and light them before you sit in the bathtub and clear your mind.
9. Binge-Watch Netflix
This is one of my favorite mental health day ideas. Is there a show that you love? Watch it. There are shows and movies that just relax me. Even if I have it on in the background, it helps me release stress. I’ve had many mental health days with The Office on TV. What are your comfort shows?
10. Do Something Nice For Yourself
Your days consist of give and give. It’s time to receive. Treat yourself to something special. Whether that be a new outfit or an ice-cream cone. Treat yourself with a little kindness.
11. Watch a Movie at the Theater
You ever watch a movie alone in the middle of a workday? If not you have to give it a try. It’s heaven. There is something relaxing and Zen about being in a dark theater with no one around. Plus you get matinee prices! I do know that this is one of those mental health day ideas that scare people. They aren’t used to going to a movie alone. My advise… just do it anyway and see how it works for you.
12. Sight See In Your Own Town
I bet there are plenty of interesting places in your own town that you have yet to explore. You should spend your day out there seeing the sights! It took me several years after moving to Colorado Springs before I ever went to see Garden of the Gods. How crazy is that? When I did, I saw my town through a whole new lens.
13. Unplug On Your Mental Health Day
Try to unplug from technology for the entire day. You should have one of these days at least once a month. If you can’t go the whole day, then at least an hour or two during your waking hours. If an hour or two still seems too much to bear, start with 15 minutes and work your way from there.
14. Go To The Spa
If you’re looking for a mental health day idea, there are few better ways to relax and destress than by visiting the spa. Spas offer massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and more in a relaxing atmosphere that’s perfect for taking some time for yourself. But don’t just go at it alone! Consider bringing your friends or family with you so that they can enjoy the experience as well.
15. Read a Book
Reading a book is one of the best ways to escape reality. You can be transported to another world during your day. It’s an amazing experience that we should all take advantage of. If you’re looking for a mental health day idea, reading is it!
16. Go With The Flow
Just take each moment as it comes. Whatever you feel like doing in the moment, go for it. The key is to do things that you want to do, not have to do. I usually have so much on my plate that sometimes I just have to forget about it all and just live from moment to moment. Its refreshing and calming.
Use your time to volunteer and help others. This is a great way to not only recharge but to get some perspective on your own life.
19. Go Take Pictures
Get in your car and drive to a scenic park, downtown, or just walk around your neighborhood and take pictures of nature and things that interest you. Even if you are not a photographer, use your camera phone and go. Photography forces you to look at even the most mundane things in a new light.
20. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Most of us hurry off to work with no real consideration for breakfast. Most people grab something unhealthy and quick because it’s convenient. On your next mental health day, take your time and prepare a nice healthy breakfast for yourself.
Mental health days are a great way to recharge and take care of ourselves when we are feeling burnt out. Use these mental health day ideas and tips to make your day off as productive and enjoyable as possible. The most important thing is that you give yourself permission to rest and recover!
What will you do on your next mental health day? Let me know in the comments below.