On Taking a Mental Health Day

So, I’ve talked a few times about how I find the ideal of people pushing themselves to the brink upsetting. I don’t get why we glorify the concept of working ourselves to the point of exhaustion, whether it be for a job or school, or even some personal projects. That is not to say that hard work is not admirable, it is. However, if you’re working to the point where you can’t see straight all the time, in the long run, you’re just hurting yourself.

Every person needs a break, and if you’re reaching a point where you can’t see an end to the stress, then it’s time to stop an reevaluate things. You need to take a moment to figure out if there’s a way to lessen your load. If that’s not possible, you at least need to take a minute to breathe. Here are some thoughts and ideas for taking mental health days:

Make sure you set aside a whole day for you

This can be kinda tricky. We live in a world where people are constantly juggling various projects at one time. If you’re working and going to school, or working multiple jobs, or you have projects outside of work to attend to, it’s hard to coordinate one day where you don’t have to work on any of these things. However, going continuously without a day to yourself is detrimental to your mental health. You never get a chance to fully recuperate.

If you have a job where you get sick/vacation days, see if you can use one of them to make sure you get a day. If you’re working at more than one place, or doing school as well, see if you can find a day where you can ask off (or don’t have class) and coordinate that day to do nothing but what you need to. It might take a while to get to the day off, but at least you’ve given yourself a light at the end of the tunnel.

Don’t let others eat up your free time

Personally, I need a decent amount of time to myself to be able to function as a human being. If I start neglecting it, I get stressed and eventually shut down. Spending time with friends and family is always great, but if you’re dying for five minutes to yourself, don’t give those up. The people close to you will understand if you say that you just need some time and space to get some peace of mind, and will want to see you when you’re feeling at your best again.

Of course, there are many people who gather strength from being around others, instead of finding it draining. If you feel like your mental health day would be better with someone, try and find one person to spend the day with you. It could be a close friend, family member, or a significant other. Someone you feel comfortable having a nice low-key day together. There’s usually at least one person who’s always up for a Netflix marathon.

Don’t feel guilty about needing some down-time

Since we’re so used to going all the time, it can be hard to take time for us, especially when there’s other things that need to be done. Often times, we can be trying to relax with a running list in the back of our heads. The guilt can get to you pretty quick. Next thing you know, instead of taking time to read that book you wanted, or spending the day trying to beat your favorite video game, you’re just focusing on your stressors again.

There’s not a whole lot you can do about those thoughts from creeping up, but it helps to acknowledge them. Once you know that’s what you’re thinking about, you have the chance to remember that you’re taking time off so you can go back in better shape. If it helps, make a list of why you need a mental health day, so when the guilty thoughts start rolling, you can quickly shut them down. Everyone needs a break, and you need to do what it takes to make sure you do what you need.

At the end of the day, we all are human. We all have limits to what we can do before we hit our breaking point. Sometimes, it can feel like others are doing more and that you need to keep pushing, but you need to focus on what you need to be healthy. If you need to take some time so you can get back to the grind the next day, there’s nothing to feel guilty about. Your mental health is just as important as any other aspect of your health. Make sure you take the time you need to be the best version of yourself.

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