Everyone everywhere has to deal with stress. Whether this is a lot of it or just a tiny yet constant stream of it, managing your stress can be challenging. If you also struggle with symptoms of depression, anxiety, mental health, or chronic pain and illness, this can undoubtedly magnify the stress in your life too. When you feel like you're about to explode and your stress levels have reached their peak, outside of reaching out to your health provider and taking recommended medications—what else can you do?
Sometimes, you need to take a mental health day, especially if you are in a place where you can afford to. By now, you've probably heard about mental health days and that they should be one of everyone's self-care tools. Yet, mental health days are different from taking a sick day while dealing with the common cold or flu.
There are so many reasons you may need to take a mental health day. A practical, therapeutic mental health day means something different to everyone, and you should personalize it to your needs. Because of how different we each are, this means a mental health day should have a little bit of strategy so that you can make the most out of the day (or days) you need.
As we are passionate about coziness in all forms, we decided to do our best to share some tips to help you treat yourself to a mental health day and pamper yourself with comfort. We hope the below will help you enjoy the day.
Tune-ups, not Damage Control
In a perfect world, mental health days would be something we could all easily work into our schedule to prevent us from getting to a place where we desperately need a break. One of the best things you can learn about yourself is recognizing the signs of work and stress fatigue and instead of trying to push through it, proactively take care of your mental health with the occasional day off filled with restoration and self-care.
Unfortunately, that's not always how it works, as our culture still prioritizes productivity over mental health. This always-on and always-available mode can very easily lead to burnout. And once we're in burnout, mental health days have a very different purpose and effect.
It can be easy to press on until our struggles overwhelm us and force us to take a break, but learning to take care of ourselves before reaching this point is one of the best ways to avoid burnout.
Once you begin to understand the signs and symptoms of your work or stress fatigue, you can actively schedule ahead. This gives you a much better opportunity to plan exactly how you want to spend your mental health day. Make a list of ideas for how you might want to spend your day, typically this will not include a bunch of high-energy activities. We recommend focusing on intention rather than busying yourself in order to feel productive. For example, planning to curl up somewhere comfortable for the afternoon and read your favorite book is an excellent idea for a mental health day.
What might a "plan ahead" list look like? Here are a few more examples and suggestions.
• Catch up with a friend.
• Read a new book or re-read a favorite book.
• Practice a favorite hobby.
• Watch a movie.
• Follow a deep breathing exercise.
• Open up windows to let fresh air in.
• Stand outside to get some sunshine or take a walk in the sun.
• Write a short list of things you are grateful for, no matter how big or small.
• Or, write everything down, good and bad just to get it all out.
• Ask yourself how you can be kind to yourself today.
• Create a list with four questions as headers: How do you want to feel on your mental health day? What can you do right now to support yourself in preparing for your mental health day? What can you plan right now for other mental health days in the future? How do you connect with people, friends, acquaintances, communities? Below each of these, list your answers.
Unplug From All Work
Many of us make the mistake of taking a much-needed day off while still staying plugged into our work. We might check our emails, Slack messages, texts, or even spend the day just thinking about our work, which is understandable, especially when the mental health day you are taking is because of work stressors.
But we encourage you to do your very best to take this time for yourself! Keep your email closed, turn your notifications off—silence your phone. Remind yourself that this break is beneficial not only to your mental health but also to your work. When we overwork ourselves, we become more prone to dissatisfaction, burnout, and lowered productivity.
How to Use Comfort for a Mental Health Day
1. Wear your most comfortable pajamas or sleepwear that doesn't itch or hinder you in any way.
2. Tuck yourself into bed early that night with your favorite pajamas, freshly washed sheets, and a good book.
3. Wrap yourself in your softest blanket and watch a comforting, silly, or lighthearted movie or TV show.
4. Watch the silliest videos you can find on the internet to giggle and laugh.
5. Wrap yourself in your favorite pajamas and blanket with your favorite cup of tea.
6. Shower and change into a set of clean comfy sleepwear.
7. Use scents that you love that bring you memories of joy. Treat yourself to the "good stuff" you've been saving like bath bombs, perfumes, lotions, candles, incense.
8. Indulge if you need to. Stay in bed, watch Netflix, and put on your favorite comedians or comedy shows.
9. Use what you have at home for a self-care spa day, complete with a fluffy, cozy bathrobe and slippers.
10. Keep your hands busy to distract your mind. There are many terrific adult coloring books featuring mandalas and other relaxing patterns that you can color using crayons, markers, pencil crayons, or whatever you have.
Remember to allow yourself to feel, whether it is good or bad, and give yourself permission to be comfortable and cozy as you take care of yourself. These activities may not work for everyone and are just a few tips to consider on your next mental health day. We hope that our suggestions and tips will help you make the most of a much-needed, relaxing day filled with rest and wellness.