Playing hooky as a kid was always a special treat. You’d wait until your parents left for work and then spend the day watching TV and eating junk food (or at least that’s what I did!). As an adult, it’s a little more difficult to take a day off from work. You have responsibilities and bills to pay and a career where people are depending on you. But every once in awhile, you just need an entire day to yourself, an entire day devoted to self-care.
Taking a mental health day sounds simple enough. In fact, it sounds pretty darn amazing. Unfortunately, there’s usually something that goes along with days off that puts a damper on our mood: guilt.
There’s no reason to feel guilty for taking some time to yourself though. Our mental health is equally as important as our physical health, especially when it comes to our performance at our jobs and in our careers.
Here are a few ways to have a restful, rejuvenating day off, minus the guilt.
Pick a day when it’s quiet at the office. Sometimes you wake up one morning and just know it’s one of those days where you absolutely cannot handle anything more than laying in bed and resting. But more often than not, mental health days aren’t so spontaneous. You can usually tell when you’re starting to burn out and will soon be needing a break. In that case, try to schedule your day off for a time when things are slower at work. That way, you won’t be worrying about what you’re missing or who you are letting down. It’s more fair to both you and your coworkers.
Plan ahead of time. Making a schedule to relax sounds counterintuitive, but having a loose idea of what you want to do will save you from wasting your special day. Don’t create a minute-by-minute itinerary, but list a few things you would like to accomplish or ideas of what to do the night before. When you wake up, you’ll be able to enjoy your time instead of spending half the day planning just how to spend it.
Unplug completely. Constantly checking your inbox or hearing the ding of a new email can negate the benefits of a day off. Turn your phone off (or at least on silent) and power down your laptop, tablet, and any other devices. This is your day and frequent work interruptions won’t allow you to fully relax.
Do whatever makes you happy. How should you spend your 24 hours? The answer is easy. Do things that you don’t get to do in your everyday busy life. In other words, treat yourself! It might be reading a book, watching reruns of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, painting your nails, trying out that new recipe you found on Pinterest, or even just taking a nice long afternoon nap.
Figure out what’s going on. We all need mental health days occasionally. However, if you find yourself needing one every single week or if a day off doesn’t make you feel any better, you may want to re-evaluate your current situation. What in your life needs to change? Is it your job, your apartment, your relationship? Whatever it is, now is the time to fix what isn’t working and start fresh.