Mental health is becoming a larger priority as our society experiences the collective impact of minimizing its importance. In the U.S., suicide, depression, and overdose rates have been trending in the wrong direction. This statistic is not only alarming but it is also a critical reminder to consider our own emotional state and the emotional state of those around us.

If you’re feeling burned out in multiple areas of your life, an honest-to-goodness mental health day can pivot you out of a downward spiral. Mental health days allow us to prioritize strategies that lower or eliminate our places of energy drain, facilitate decompression, and refocus our energy and attention on our hearts deepest wishes.

If it’s not possible to make this an entire day, that’s okay too. If you can carve out even a few hours, this can provide the necessary benefits you need to manage the stress and responsibilities on your plate and reconnect with yourself.

Read on for tips to plan and maximize your next mental health day.

What is a Mental Health Day?

A mental health day is a day specifically scheduled, booked, paid for, reserved, blocked out and ultimately dedicated to specific strategies unique to you for stress relief and recovering mental burnout. Think of it like recovering from an emotional sunburn. You avoid the sun and use strategies to take the heat out of your body.

These days can be utilized by anyone who needs to refresh their mind, body and overall emotional health. The focus of the day is to set down the major stressors in your life and focus your energy on things that are calming, relaxing, and allow you to feel rested and relaxed.

When Should You Take a Mental Health Day?

Emotionally, we become sunburned when we feel overly reactive, harsh, people pleasing or any other number of strategies that accelerate the consequence of using and losing precious energy. An endless to-do list, overwhelming anxiety, or intense pressure in your life can build to the point of being unmanageable or sustainable. While this point varies for everyone, it’s important to recognize these signs in yourself. It’s also useful to consider how important people in your life will be impacted by, and respond to, too frequent or infrequent mental health days.

Set the day by scheduling off of work or school. Make sure you are avoiding missing critical deadlines and have made childcare arrangements (if necessary). Planning on a weekend or when you already have a day off can make it easier to find the time.

Tips to Maximize Your Mental Health Day

Once you have your mental health day scheduled, make sure you get the most from it. These tips can help ensure this is a relaxing, refreshing day:

Plan in advance: Make some plans for what you want to do and accomplish on this day. These do not need to be big or overcomplicated things. In fact, it’s best to avoid activities that will cause additional stress. However, having a loose plan and/or timeline of what will most rejuvenate you can help make sure you get the most of your time.

Sleep well the night before: Get a good night’s rest to ensure your brain and body can get the full benefit of this day. Don’t stay up late and sleep in on your mental health day.

Eat well: Give your brain and body plenty of energy by eating nutritious food. If you want to minimize food prep work, prepare meals in advance. Avoid eating junk food all day, but do feel free to treat yourself with a favorite snack.

Use your brain: Don’t just veg out all day staring at the TV or your phone. Do something to give your brain a workout. Doing a puzzle, reading a book, or making art will help you have something to focus on without the stress of work or other responsibilities. Avoid projects and tasks that require too much planning or stress.

Treat yourself: A simple gift for yourself will help make the day more special and meaningful. Do something you enjoy but don’t get to do often. Save up in advance so you can afford this activity without added stress.

Get out in nature: Experience the great outdoors to help you reconnect with yourself and with all living things. Go for a hike or even just a walk in the park.

With a bit of planning, your next mental health day is sure to be more relaxing, meaningful, and refreshing. You’ll return to work, school, and home with a clear mind and more energy to face the day’s ahead.

Continue Prioritizing Mental Health

If you feel you need more than a mental health day and would like additional support to deal with the stresses and challenges in your life, we’re here to help. Our expert counselors can guide you in identifying what is causing your emotional burnout and will work with you to create a plan to process through these challenges and heal, so you can enjoy life to the fullest.

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