We get busy and caught up in our day-to-day lives: working 40 or more hours a week, taking care of our children and homes. In the midst of all this, we tend to forget about setting time aside for ourselves. Knowing when and how to take a mental health day can make a difference in your overall well being.
July 24 is International Self-Care Day. But what exactly is self-care? How can maintaining self-care ease symptoms of mental health disorders and prevent addiction? We’ll explore this here.
What is Self-Care?
Practicing self-care means paying attention to yourself and being mindful of your needs. Everyone can practice self-care in different ways, depending on their needs. Self-care activities involve anything that makes you happy and healthy.
The trend of “self-care” has grown over the last few years. It’s constantly promoted on social media in conjunction with discussions surrounding mental health. Nowadays, people are much more open about their struggles with mental illnesses, including addiction, depression, and eating disorders. These changes in our world have made discussing mental health more acceptable.
By engaging in self-care, you learn what your body and mind need to feel good. This can start with a simple mental health day, during which you can try out different self-care strategies.
A Mental Health Day
Taking a mental health day means that you spend a day taking care of yourself. Doing this can help you take a step back, evaluate your life, and look at how you do things each day. Is there anything you can be doing differently that will benefit you?
Why Don’t We Practice Self-Care More Often?
People don’t practice self-care enough because other responsibilities normally come first. There are rarely any opportunities for “me time.” We don’t make this a priority because society has valued work over relaxation for so many years. We have also become consumed by social media and technology and general. All this is taking over our lives, and it doesn’t give us time to simply think.
We also don’t take a day off because not all employers are supportive of taking off for mental health reasons. As a result, we feel guilty about ever having a day to ourselves, away from our jobs.
Signs You Need a Mental Health Day
You probably don’t think very often about how to take a mental health day, or about your mental health in general. However, there are telltale signs that you might be ready to take some time for yourself.
Signs you’re in need of a mental health day include:
- You’re exhausted, mentally and physically
- Work is burning you out
- You can’t sleep well
- You’re feeling more anxious than normal
- Focusing on one task is difficult
- You are getting sick often
- You feel detached from family and friends
Not taking time aside for your mental health can lead to a slump in other areas of your life. Not dealing with issues at hand can lead you to turn to harmful substances for comfort. This, in turn, can also lead to addiction. Other mental health disorders like depression and anxiety can also get worse without proper attention.
If you’re concerned about taking a mental health day because you’re afraid your employer won’t approve, speak up. Make time to talk with your supervisor about any mental concerns that you’re having. By being open and honest, he or she is more likely to understand your situation.
How to Take a Mental Health Day: 10 Ways
How exactly do you plan a mental health day? There are many resources for this. You can read self-help books, visit self-care websites, and even talk to your therapist.
If you already have paid time off, you’re at a better advantage to take a mental health day. You can also call in sick if you’re not feeling well and need to recover.
Below are 10 ways on how to take a mental health day.
When people think of how to take a mental health day, working out is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Moving your body on a regular basis will produce endorphins, which help you feel good. Exercising can improve your mood and lower your stress and anxiety. Many people work out regularly to keep their mental health at a positive level. Even though we all know that exercising is good for you, we probably don’t do it as much as we should.
Getting some fresh air does anybody good. When we’re constantly cooped up at home or in an office, we can benefit from exploring the outdoors once in a while. Go on a hiking trail nearby or spend a day at the beach.
Take a Mini Road Trip
If you want to do more than just get out of the house, go on a little journey. Driving by yourself can clear your mind and force you to think about what you want in life.
Read a Book
Most of the world is consumed by smartphones. Our 24-hour news cycle has become the norm, and this can cause you a great deal of stress. Reading a book can bring peace to your mind and liven up your imagination. Escaping real life for a day can give you a break from what you’re going through.
When you take care of your body, you’re taking care of yourself. You only have one body, so you should treat it with the utmost respect. Eating foods rich in nutrients will help you feel better, and your body will thank you.
Try making a salad or an alternative version of your favorite food, such as vegan mac and cheese or having a “Meatless Monday.”
Cook a Meal at Home
Cooking is an art form. Although microwaving frozen dinners is fast, preparing meals gives you a huge sense of accomplishment and brings warmth to your home. On your mental health day, gather some ingredients and make something you’ve always wanted to try. You can incorporate home-cooked meals into your daily routine, and they don’t have to be complicated.
Getting enough rest is key for maintaining normal bodily functions. Sleeping less than six hours a day can make you feel lethargic and depressed. It can even cause health problems. If you’re thinking about how to take a mental health day, make time for a nap.
As for your everyday routine, try not to eat or drink caffeine or sugar right before going to bed. Try listening to some music that makes you feel calm.
The saying goes that a clear space makes for a clear mind. If there’s a project in your house that you’ve been wanting to tackle, like a cluttered closet, start there. Having a space in which you can thrive will allow you to be more productive. When you organize your life, you learn what you need to do to take care of yourself.
A good first, easy step to getting organized is writing important dates and tasks in a calendar or agenda. You can also create a designated area for purses, mail, and keys.
Learn How to Say “No”
How many times do we say “yes” to people when we feel like saying “no”? We often want to please our friends and family, but you should also honor your needs. If you’re feeling burnt out or stressed, saying “yes” isn’t always the best option. If you need to take a mental health day and a friend wants to get together that day, it’s okay if you must be by yourself.
By saying “no” more, you’ll gain self-confidence and invest in your self-care.
Decide What You Need
The way you decide how to take a mental health day is your idea alone. You know which self-care activities will be best for your mind and body. Think about what makes you relax. Whether it’s watching your favorite TV show or writing in your journals, do what you think is best for decompression. Remember, your mental and physical wellness comes first!
Binge-Watch a TV Show
With so many streaming services on the internet, you can instantly watch your favorite programs. If there’s a movie or TV show that you’ve been wanting to watch, today is the day to do it. Watching something new can help you relax and decompress.
Although a mental health day is a time for you to relax, it isn’t a day for you to run away from your problems. Take this time to think about stressors and triggers that negatively impact you.
What Shouldn’t I Do on a Mental Health Day?
When you’re thinking of how to take a mental health day, you should not do the following:
- Drinking, smoking, or taking other substances: Although these might sound like fun activities that help you relax, avoid them. These aren’t good for your body, and self-care is about taking care of yourself and knowing what’s good for you.
- Overeating/eating unhealthy foods: Eating junk food might be your first move when you’re feeling depressed, but you’ll feel better eating more nutritious foods.
- Spending a lot of time on social media: Reading other people’s posts can leave you comparing yourself to your friends. This has led to much mental anguish among social media users in the past. Take a break from your phone by turning it off or putting it on “do not disturb.”
- Staying away from family and friends: You need to have a support system to get you through life’s ups and downs. Talking to people you trust and having someone to lean on can help you feel better.
Mental Health Treatment at Harmony Ridge
Our dedicated staff at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is trained to treat mental health disorders like addiction. We offer treatment programs that will focus on your struggles with depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction. These include individual, group, and family therapy.
At our facility, we also offer therapeutic programs like adventure therapy and yoga that will help you clear your mind.
Reach Out to Us Today
Don’t let your troubles with substance use disorder make you feel like there’s no way out. Harmony Ridge can give you the hope you’ve been lacking for so long. Contact us today and learn about our programs that can help you find happiness again.