Increasingly, people all around the world are prioritizing their mental health, and for good cause. With work and home demands stretching many folks thin, one way to attend to mental health is by taking a mental health day. 

Work stress or struggling to recharge are both good reasons to take a mental health day, especially if you feel like your days are one long, drawn-out slog. A mental health day might be exactly what you need to feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. 

Your idea of a mental health day might differ from what you actually need, though. Some people use mental health days for indulgent experiences and behaviours instead of restorative practices that improve mental and emotional health. While it might be fun to get your nails done, go to a game or day-drink, these activities aren’t the best way to spend a mental health day. 

Using mental health days to restore your mental health, so you’re ready to get back to your best self, requires deliberate action. Instead of winging it or indulging yourself, here are some actionable tips to help you make the most of a mental health day. 

1. Schedule ahead

You’ll get the most out of a mental health day if you plan in advance. Don’t only take one on a whim; choose a day and schedule some restorative experiences and practices. Depending on your personality and needs, you might start with meditation or yoga, visit your therapist, get a massage or spend time with family and friends. You might even prefer alone time to help fill your cup. 

Whatever your needs and preferences, make sure you know what you’re doing ahead of time. 

2. Fully disconnect from work

Stepping away from work is the bare minimum requirement for a mental health day. If you stay plugged in and answering emails, you may as well have gone to work in the first place. Put on your out-of-office reply, turn off your email notifications on your phone and give yourself some real time away. 

If there’s an emergency, your work colleagues can figure it out. You get to do you for a day — enjoy it. 

3. Get high-quality sleep

The night before your mental health day, make sure you get good sleep. You can help yourself get high-quality sleep by following a good sleep hygiene routine. If you don’t get enough rest the night before, take time for a mid-afternoon nap.

4. Clean up and organize

Many of us have a hard time keeping up with household chores and organizing. As laundry piles up and closets become dishevelled, it’s easy to experience increased anxiety. A mental health day is a great time to catch up on the household chores you’ve fallen behind on. 

The benefits of taking care of your space are long-lasting. When you straighten up your home, you reclaim its sanctuary status. You should feel most comfortable and at peace at home, and it’s hard to feel that way when it’s a mess. 

5. Get some exercise

Moving your body has many benefits. It helps maintain your weight, but it can also help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. You don’t have to go for a five-mile run to attain these benefits. Simple resistance training, callisthenics or even an outdoor walk can help you get your mind right on a mental health day. 

6. Eat healthy meals

It can be tempting to indulge in your favourite comfort meal or guilty pleasure on a mental health day, but that might do you more harm than help. Studies show a link between frequent junk food consumption and poor mental health. Try to avoid it whenever possible to support good mental health year round. 

7. Focus on your hygiene

Some hygiene routines take longer than others, especially if you need help maintaining your hair, say, or struggle with acne. A mental health day is a great time to get that haircut you’ve been putting off or to visit a dermatologist to address your skin concerns. 

8. Take time for meditation

Meditating is a great way to get in tune with your mind, your emotions and your body. Breathing exercises, affirmations and positive thinking are all priorities during a session of meditation. It’s especially beneficial for some people who have a history of depression. Research shows it might even prevent people with major depression from relapsing

9. Try a creative project

Getting in touch with your more creative and artistic side can make for a good mental health day. It’s a great way to express yourself while also having fun. There are also serious health benefits to participating in artistic experiences. Evidence suggests that doing creative projects can improve both physical symptoms and mental health issues. 

10. Get outside

Taking some time for yourself outdoors in nature is another great option for a mental health day. Getting some sun helps boost vitamin D, but there are many more benefits to spending time outdoors. Studies show that time spent in nature reduces symptoms of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and mood disorders. It’s a great addition to a mental health day — and any other day you can get outside.

11. Consider reading

For many children, reading changes from a bedtime treat to a schoolwork chore as they grow up. For those who still enjoyed reading, it may have become harder and harder to indulge in their hobby as they got older. More mundane activities often take the place of leisure reading, like work, college courses and housework. 

If you’re an avid reader, a mental health day is a great opportunity to pour yourself into a book. There are plenty of reasons to pick up a book even beyond the stories in its pages. Reading provides significant stress relief, often more quickly than other stress relief methods. Get lost in a book on a mental health day and you might experience lower blood pressure and relaxed muscles.

12. Reach out to friends and family

It’s easy to lose touch with family and friends when you’re dealing with the hustle of working and adulting. Depending on your circumstances, you might want to prioritize these close relationships on a mental health day. If you’re struggling with your mental health, this might be the perfect time for you to confide in your loved ones

Sometimes talking to family and friends isn’t enough, and you need support from a mental health professional. Many people from all walks of life benefit from seeing a therapist or psychologist. If your mental health condition is better managed with medication, a psychiatrist might also be able to help.


This post was supplied to and written by ZocDoc.