photo by .matter. via flickr
have you ever had one of those days when you wake up knowing that productivity, clarity, and hell, even your sanity are just not on the table? some call it burn-out, others mental exhaustion, and sometimes it's just waking up on the really f***ing wrong side of the bed. whatever you consider it to be, it usually stems from the same place, stress, and it's usually a sign that you need a break.
here is where many people (myself included) run into a dilemma: why would you take a sick day/avoid any and all responsibilities/hunker down at home when you're not physically ill? the problem with this thinking is that you're ignoring the fact your mental health may be suffering, and that it needs as much coddling and tlc as your body does when it's fighting the flu. would you send yourself to work, or insist on attending a social commitment when you're running a fever and puking your guts out? i know i wouldn't. well, when you're burned out consider it your brain vomiting all over your insides, and take the damn time for yourself.
now, this isn't an excuse to avoid work or family responsibilities when you're simply feeling tired or having a bad day. mental exhaustion is in a completely different category, and doesn't stem from one bad run-in with an ex, or your boss, or a new project thrown your way. it arrives, unwelcome, after days/weeks/months of stress, lack of sleep and general anxiety, and leaves you feeling completely wiped out.
so, you know what you do when it arrives? you cancel that appointment, reschedule that meeting, tell your friend/partner you won't be making it after all, and you do something just for you, whatever it involves. (i need to add a "within reason" clause to that last sentence.)
photo by tsmall via flickr
i did mention in the title that mental health days can be amazing. burn-out in and of itself is not a pleasant thing, but the ways in which you can help yourself get over it totally are. and that's where taking the day off from life can be great. to get you started on the right path, i've listed a number of ways in which you can indulge below. all of them are self-explanatory, and are good ways to brighten up a bad day, as well as recover from mental exhaustion.
1. sleep in, or nap. a lot.
2. take a bath. with bubbles. and candles. and maybe some wine.
3. put on some cozy pyjamas and curl up under a blanket.
4. watch your favourite childhood movie.
5. watch anything winnie the pooh.
6. cuddle with a pet. or your partner. or a stuffed animal. no judgement.
7. buy yourself some rich dark chocolate, or a couple of amazing truffles. eat them slowly, and enjoy every bite.
8. read a book you've been putting off while "too busy".
9. enjoy a glass of good wine. or an exotic beer. or some straight vodka. in moderation, but again, no judgement.
10. nap. again. you need it.
11. make your favourite meal, or a hearty bowl of soup.
12. call your mom. or your best friend. or anybody who makes you feel good to talk to.
13. order in pizza. or greek. or chinese. or all three.
14. give yourself a pedicure.
15. change the sheets on your bed and go to bed early.
just like you would nap on the couch and indulge in some chicken noodle soup (or my sick day favourite, tomato soup) when rocking the flu, you should nap on the couch and eat soup when taking a mental health day. or whatever variation makes you feel better.
when you hit that wall of exhaustion, and when you're burnt out, you deserve to take some time for yourself, otherwise you may suffer even more later. and i'm all about making 2012 (and beyond) a year of health and wellness, for me and for you.
how do you feel about mental health days? have you ever taken one?