Whether you’re working double shifts or you’re a mom knee-deep in house chores and responsibilities, everyone needs a mental health day every once in a while. We all deal with stress in different ways but it’s important to acknowledge when you’re feeling overwhelmed and know when to take a mental break.
A mental health day is vital for your personal wellness - not only can it help prevent burnout, but it can also leave you more capable of being productive. Even the World Health Organization recognizes the importance of mental health by supporting World Mental Health Day.
World Mental Health Day is an international day celebrated on October 10, that was initiated by the World Federation for Mental Health. It was created with the objective to raise global mental health awareness and fight against the social stigma following mental health. Thousands of supporters celebrate this day by talking about mental health issues, taking initiatives in workplaces, and collaborating on what needs to be done to improve mental health care worldwide.
This year, the theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’, which will highlight how mental health services are still unequal and lacking in many parts of the world. Currently, between 75 to 95% of people with mental disorders around the world are unable to get the mental health services they need. This campaign is a great opportunity for people to come together and find solutions to this problem.
If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, or unproductive - you probably need a mental break. It’s important to try and not wait until you’ve hit rock bottom to realize that you need to disconnect. A mental health day is a day for you to take a step back, relax, and make the time to focus on self-care. Sometimes we let ourselves get carried away at work that we don’t realize when we need a break. Here are the most common signs that you need a mental health day:
Experts suggest that you need to be proactive and not reactive with your mental wellness. You should try and pick up on these signs early on to get the best results for your mental health day.
The best way to take a mental health day is to plan ahead, this will give you time to schedule your tasks accordingly and get rid of some of that workload. You don’t want to waste your mental health day worrying about work.
Many employers have built-in PTO systems where you can request a day off, whether it’s by calling in sick or using your vacation balance. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your employer that you need a mental health day, you don’t need to share your reason. You can even schedule your mental health day on the weekend! This way you’re already off from work and can focus on having a stress-free day.
Once you've figured out when you're going to plan your mental health day, you might be wondering what exactly you can do to recharge. Here are a few ideas you might want to experiment with. Generally, it’s important to practice these activities whenever you get the chance, it doesn’t only need to be for a designated mental health day.
You don’t want to feel grouchy from lack of sleep on the one day you’re trying to boost your mood. It’s important to get restful sleep on the night before your mental health day, so make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep. Getting better sleep won’t just make you feel energized in the morning, but it’ll also help you recover from mental and physical exhaustion. Sleep deprivation can promote depression and anxiety - it won’t only make you less productive during the day, it can have physical consequences as well.
Even though breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we often find ourselves rushing to work in the morning with nothing but coffee. It is important that you have a nutritious breakfast because it regulates your blood sugar and boosts your energy levels. You shouldn’t eat foods that are high in sugar or contain saturated fat because certain foods can have a significant impact on your mental health.
Unhealthy food may feel satisfying when you’re eating it, but it’s hard to ignore the negative side effects that come afterward. Breakfast meals with ingredients that are high in omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to reduce symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and stress. Some of these ingredients are walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, eggs, avocados, leafy greens, berries, and beans.
Even though staying in bed all day sounds like a good idea, it won’t do much for your mental health. Plan your day with all of the activities you want to do, whether it is going out, meeting friends, or trying out a new restaurant. You need to take a minute and ask yourself - what makes me happy? Whatever comes to mind, add it to your plan!
Exercising helps increase your self-esteem, reduces anxiety, and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s a great way to experience serenity and gain a peaceful mindset. It doesn’t have to be lifting weights, exercise can be cycling, jogging, or even signing up for a yoga class.
Meditation is another great way to physically and mentally alleviate symptoms of stress and depression. It’ll help loosen up your body and take your mind off anything that’s stressing you. Start out with a few stretches and beginner yoga poses, meditating for even just 10 minutes can make a difference in your day.
Get rid of the toxins in your body by taking a soothing hot bath with your favorite bath bomb! Bath bombs come in multiple scents and release hydrating oils that’ll moisturize your skin and leave it feeling fresh and soft.
You can also add Epsom salts to your bath, it’ll reduce stiffness or body aches and help you relax. While you’re in the tub, try listening to your favorite podcast, music, or audiobook to set the mood. By the end of the day, you’ll feel more rejuvenated than ever before.
Another thing that impacts your mental health, and you never have time for more anymore, is doing the things you love. It’s time for you to get back to your hobbies! Whether it is reading, painting, or even playing video games - do something that makes you happy. If you feel like your old hobbies don’t make you happy anymore, then it’s time for new ones. You can sign up for a pottery class, try a new sport, or learn how to cook. Your options are endless, find something that’ll help clear your mind for a few hours.
A mental health day is about taking care of yourself and not worrying about anyone else. Some people like to spend this day on their own while others may have a friend or family member they want to catch up with - now’s your chance! Reach out to a friend that cares about you, someone that’s easy to talk to, and then think of something fun to do together. Hanging out with friends that have a positive impact on you can help reduce your stress and make you feel good about yourself.
By going on a nature walk you’re getting your dose of exercise as well as a chance to observe and learn your new surroundings, and just live in the moment. The change of scenery will help you gain a fresher and positive perspective on things. Studies have also shown activities like hiking in mountains, walking in forests, or just being in nature, can improve your blood pressure, fight depression, and boost your mental health.
Treat yourself to a few self-care things, like getting a massage, going on a spa day, or getting your nails done. Going to the spa or getting a massage induces relaxation and relieves strain on pressure points in your body. However, something as simple as using a sheet mask at home can boost your self-esteem and make you feel relaxed. Developing self-care routines like caring for your skin, nourishing your hair, or drinking healthy smoothies, will improve your mental and physical health.
Take the time on your mental health day to just sit back and think about your priorities in life. Ask yourself, why are you feeling this way? and what can you do to better yourself? Define the factors in your life that are stressing you out and start working on changing them. For example, if you’re overwhelmed with work, talk to your manager about adjusting your work schedule or reassigning some of your tasks to someone else.
There are active steps you can take every day to reduce your stress levels and maintain a positive mindset. With these few tips, every day can be a mental health day!
Mental issues are serious and need to be handled properly. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders - it is best for you to seek help from your physician. Maintaining good mental health is important. By following these tips, your mental health day will make a big difference in your week, month, and life!