The Importance of Mental Health Days
This year during my year-end review, there were many things that jumped out at me, one big thing is taking time for intentional breaks for rest and mental health. It was a recurring theme I couldn’t ignore.
So, as I planned out my January schedule, I decided that the last Wednesday of the month would be a mental health break.
On Wednesday, I close up my office and call it, “Mom Day”. This is one of two days each week I bring my Mom over for a visit and for her to spend some time with Mr. Oliver. Closing up my office gives me the ability to spend time with her without feeling torn between her and work.
Since my clients already know I am out of the office, it was the perfect time to schedule a day off.
Amid all the craziness that my life often is, I know I am also blessed in so many ways. I have my business, which I can run from home. It is often easier for me to arrange time off like this than for many people.
Then again, sometimes it’s not. Convincing my “boss” that I need a day off can be difficult. Thankfully, this time she understood and gave the okay ;). (Boss means me, not my Mom ;). But Mom ended up needing a bit of convincing too LOL!)
Thinking back to my last corporate job, January was the month I took a lot of time off. Our fall was always busy and I almost always had vacation days that needed to be used up or I would lose them. So I would use up those days and take several long weekends. It worked really well.
January is often a month of dark rainy weather. It’s the month I’m usually the most tired, and it is often when my fibromyalgia flares up. This January is no exception.
I planned one thing for my day off. Dinner and a sunset.
Other than that, I intentionally did not set any goals, agenda, or plans. It was exactly what I needed.
My niece often has Wednesday off as well, so I invited her to join me. She is always up for a beachy sunset walk, so it was an easy yes for her.
It was chilly and got chillier the lower the sun dropped below the horizon. The color continued to deepen and glow gloriously. Over and over we kept saying, “Wow, that is amazing!”.
Not that I am biased or anything, but an Oregon Coast sunset can be one of the most beautiful things you will ever witness.
3 Tips for Planning an Effective Mental Health Break
Tip #1: Keep it Simple
Seriously, this is key. You don’t need to make big plans, go anywhere exotic, or set grand expectations. Big plans fall through. Exotic is often expensive, and you almost always will feel disappointed by grand (unrealistic) expectations.
If you plan anything, keep it small, simple, and portable.
Create a Take A Break Kit (read about that idea here). This is a bag that you can fill with simple portable activities that you can grab and pull next to you on the couch, or bring with you to a coffee shop or the park. It can include things like:
- Coloring books and pens or pencils
- Knitting project
- A magazine or book
- Activity books like crossword, sodoku, or word searches
- A letter-writing kit to send greetings to friends and family
- A mini watercolor set with a watercolor notebook
- Journal with your favorite writing pen
Again, it does not need to be fancy or expensive to be effective. Simpler is really better.
You could also plan:
- A relaxing walk through the park
- A visit to the beach (one of my personal favorites :)!)
- A short hike
- A photo noticing walk
- A long lunch with a friend
- A picnic in the backyard
- A few hours curled up on the couch with a book and your favorite drink
The point is to break away from your everyday to-do list, demands, schedule, and expectations. It can be for a few hours, half a day, or more.
Tip #2: Plan it. Schedule it. Do it.
Don’t ignore it. Don’t say, “I’ll take a break after…”.
Take it. If you can take it before, you need it, even better. Make a point of developing a habit of putting a mental health day on your schedule at regular intervals.
Tip #3: See Tip #1 and Tip #2
This may sound facetious. But it’s not. Too often we overcomplicate it and expect too much of a day off. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Simple is doable. Simple means you are way more likely to take a break.
So… when are YOU going to schedule your next mental health break?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer, WordPress Website developer, and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her dogs Oliver & Mochi. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. Marta also fully believes that change starts with gratitude and that gratitude can change everything. Find out how with the “Grateful Friday 7-Days of Gratitude Starter Kit”