Everyone needs a break to unwind and relax. Taking a long and well-earned vacation would be ideal, but for most of us that’s not viable on the fly… so what’s the alternative?

Taking a mental health day. This is essentially a day during a weekend or holiday that you set aside just for yourself and your mental health. No work, no chores, no emails — just you and a relaxing day to recharge your batteries.

Let me show you how to take a mental health day, from the planning stage to the best ways to make the most of it!

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. – John Lennon

Why is a mental health day so important?

A mental health day is simply a day you choose to focus on your mental health.

We often get caught up on our physical health, because the signs are much more obvious. Bad mental health is a bit more complicated because the reasons and solutions are far less clear.

Unfortunately, mental health is also easy to neglect for personal reasons and social pressure. Admitting that you need a break may be seen as a sign of weakness, which is far from the case. This leads many adults to never allow themselves a break, because they assume that if they feel bad mentally, it’s their own fault.

This is not the case at all.

Your mind works like a muscle. There are healthy ways to strengthen it, or strain it.

For example, going to the gym. You’ll do routines, adopt a diet, and your muscles will grow stronger — great!

For your mind, this is the equivalent of reading books, playing chess, solving math problems, practicing a creative activity, and so on.

However, imagine that instead of going to the gym, you have to push a boulder up a mountain. There are no routines, no breaks, no diet, nothing. All you have to do is push a heavy boulder up and it seems like the more you push, the harder it gets.

Your muscles will eventually give in, and instead of growing stronger, you’re completely defeated. Tired, fatigued, and unable to go on.

The exact same thing can happen to your mind.

Just like your body, you have to care for it. It can grow stronger, but only if given time to rest. And a tired mind can alter everything around you — your motivation, your relationships, even your decisions!

Why it’s ok to take a day off

Before I give you some tips, it’s important to understand why it’s totally fine to take a day off.

Most people feel too guilty to take to relax, so let’s get some common misconceptions out of the way:

Taking a day off isn’t the same as slacking. No one is saying you should ignore your work, neglect your basic chores, or silence your phone and ignore everyone who tries to talk to you. We’re doing a responsible thing here! The idea is to finish work, get your chores done, and then you can take your day off.

Guilt is not a part of the equation. Even if at any point in your life you feel compelled to silence your phone and take a nap in the afternoon… why shouldn’t you? If you feel that way, you’re probably tired already. Again, we will be planning for a responsible day off, so you have no reason to feel guilty.

Think of it this way: if you feel thirsty, would you feel guilty about drinking water? Probably not. Your body is simply giving you a sign that it needs something. This is the same thing here. Your mind needs some time off to relax, and you shouldn’t ignore that need. 

You will feel recharged. If you struggle with the idea of taking a day off because you’re so used to being busy, consider it an investment. After taking a mental health day, you will feel much better to resume your duties later at a much better pace and mood!

Before we go on, consider these tips for making your home a more peaceful place!

Tips for taking a mental health day

Plan ahead. The last thing you want is to have to cancel your day off. Choose a weekend or holiday where you’ll be able to relax, let your partner know your plans, schedule a babysitter, etc. Set everything up nicely so that when the day comes, you don’t have to worry about anything disrupting you.

Stay away from your phone. As relaxing as it may be to watch an endless stream of cooking videos or stories and reels on Instagram, phones can be poison to your mind — especially social media. Tons of content from a million random subjects bombarding your mind all at once. Not very relaxing. Consider watching a movie or catching up on a TV show instead!

Eat and drink. Your physical side also needs attention. Remember to eat well and drink water, as that helps keep your mind healthy — a lot more than you think!

Try meditation. Meditation is not for everyone, but if you give it a try and end up enjoying it, it’s something you can do almost every day. You can even create a room for meditation in your home.

Do something you like (or something you’ve been meaning to do). Whether it’s learning an instrument, reading a book, trying a new recipe, watching a movie while sipping wine… it’s your day, enjoy it!

Hopefully with these tips you’ll be able to take a day off to finally relax and unwind. You deserve it, and I promise you will feel much better and more productive on the following day. 

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