Mental Health Days, I bet you never heard about it, if you did, you are the 63% of people who already know its benefits. This is the 1 method that changed everything last year for me and I swear by it. Plus a regular self-care routine, which we will discuss next month on the blog.
But let’s start with what is a Mental Health Day: a mental health day is a day you preferably schedule monthly in your calendar to focus on your mental health, for resetting yourself mentally and spiritually. It’s a pause in the wild craziness of the go-go mindset that we all love, for us to check on how we really are.
“In an ideal world, mental health days would be something you automatically work into your schedule to prevent you from getting to a place where you desperately need a break” – SELF
I learned the concept in October when I found myself getting more and more stressed. There were a lot of things going on at work and with me being sick with the flu for almost a month, plus the sickness of the 1st trimester, I felt I was spiraling. So I decided I needed to change something.
I took some time off work, using the time I had available at the time, 3 days, and I used them at max.
//READ MORE: How to get back to work after a break
How to start?
I started by researching how to come back after burnout because that was what I felt I was going through. This ended up with me finding myself reading into self-care as a way to avoid burnout and discovering how Mental Health Days could be a way to help with that too.
As soon as I started reading about it I understood this was what I needed.
I needed something that would prevent me from going from my super-go-go seasons, high energy, wanting to get everything done to spiraling into burnout. Something that made me stop and reevaluate myself regularly. I needed a check-up with myself: am I ok? Am I getting too stressed because of work? Should I space myself away and reevaluate how much energy am I putting into this?
That’s where a monthly Mental Health Day helped me the most. And what do I do on my monthly Mental Health Day?
1. Hit reset: eliminate stress
I learned on this article to do this and for me, it’s the biggest step of my Mental Health Day. Sometimes I even do it before my Mental Health Day rolls around because I feel I need it. Let’s dive into what the article recommends to do:
- Creating a list of things that drain your energy
- Cutting out some of your larger stressors
- Taking a look at your priorities
There is another task they recommend but I feel like these are the most important ones for me. I usually do this on my bullet journal. On the left page I write the first list, on the right page I reflect on what can I cut out from the first list and how. Maybe it’s the expectations on me to have a dinner idea for each day of the week -> I cut this by incorporating theme days and airfryer recipes my husband likes to do = less days for me to have this action on me.
“If the stressors seem to pile up and you’re looking for a way to slow down and stop the noise, you may want to take a day to restructure things. You may not be able to eliminate all of your ongoing stressors in a day, but you might be able to make a significant reduction in a few areas, which may, in turn, create a lasting impact on your stress levels.” – Very Well Mind
2. Go back to basics
As soon as I have reviewed the top stressors, I can focus on getting myself back to my top self, starting with the basics. Usually, this is the way I start my Mental Health Days, with this list I keep on my Notes app:
- Water – hydrate! I always find myself lacking hydration when I’m most stressed, so this is a simple reminder of something I can easily take care of myself
- Unplug – if you’re taking the day off: remove notifications from work – no checking what it’s going on, it will be there when you’re back
- Move Body for 5 minutes
- Eat something nourishing
- Brush teeth
- Sleep 8 hours – since sleep is one of the first things we lack during stressful times, reminding you to re-prioritize it is not only good but necessary: I read somewhere to block off at least 9 to 10 hours of sleep, as interruptions during the night might leave you feeling tired throughout the day. Start by sleeping until you feel rested. But don’t overdo it, is not good either.
3. Add fun – relax
And the third part of my monthly Mental Health Day ritual: add some fun and relax! For this part, and because I’m a big productivity junky, I need to start with:
- 1 productive thing – this is usually small and something I look forward to, I don’t do anything on this day that doesn’t bring me joy or excitement – well, at least until I have to enter my obligations time – e.g. family time or anything else I couldn’t get away from that day – please, keep this very restricted, this is supposed to be a day for reset, keep it saved for that
- Listen to music that brings you joy
- Do 4 fun things – you don’t need to do the 4, but choosing to do at least 1 on this day of something that excites you is enough
- Dive into your Hobbies – blogging, e.g.
- Clear your mind
- Journaling – if you still feel confused, or stressed, both of these ideas are good to unblock you, especially if you are really burned out. My favorite is the second, but I see a lot of people having awesome results with this one.
- Problem-solving – think about how to tackle issues you’re facing, that have been keeping you awake at night – work stresses, expectations, family struggles – how to go back to your happiest state – I’m a very problem-solving girl, so I love brainstorming and find ways to resolve my issues, but sometimes to go back to this state, I need to go through all of the above phases of this Mental Health Day. It’s okay if you too.
“I have improved my work-life balance and put more emphasis on my well-being. This has improved my emotional balance and stress levels inside and outside of work. I also have been more intentional in my actions, understanding when and where I should use my strengths or superpowers, as my coach calls them.” – BetterUp
Another rule I have for this day is: no spending all day scrolling on social media! Yes, no IG, TikTok… So, if this is usually something that keeps you away from being productive or you find yourself feeling sad or comparing your life to others, use this day to unleash yourself from this vice. If you find yourself reaching for your phone on a break to scroll mindless your IG, open your Podcasts app instead and listen to one episode of your queue. If you want to read more books this year, open your audiobooks app.
Doing this monthly reset, plus incorporating a regular Self Care routine, has helped me cut stress from my life immensely. I hope it does the same for you.
If you would like to know more on how to incorporate this too in your life, come back next monday for my next blog post on how I finally incorporated a winning regular Self Care routine!