When I think about mental health, the first thing that comes to mind is the practice of self-love. Taking the time to care for your mind, body, and spirit should be as important as anything else on your schedule. When you don’t take care of your mental health, the quality of your life suffers, which then takes a toll on your work, your daily enjoyment, and even your relationships with others.
I love to treat myself to a mental health day at least once a month. This typically involves taking a day off from work and chores to just rest and enjoy the things I love. Likewise, I try to give myself a few hours a week—especially on Sundays—to treat myself to a relaxing beauty and haircare routine.
Even though World Mental Health Day only comes once a year in October, you should make a habit of checking in with yourself as often as you need.
After indulging in many mental health days myself, here’s how you can get the most out of yours.
Take personal inventory of your thoughts, feelings, and goals.
To first access where you’re at mentally, I recommend writing down a list of your thoughts and goals.
This exercise usually reveals what’s been taking up the most space in your brain. I’m also a very visual person and this helps me see all my thoughts in front of me, instead of trying to keep track of them all in my head.
After I complete my list, I look it over and plan out any important tasks in my bullet journal. I’ll also use this time to write about any pressing thoughts or concerns more deeply. With all of this noise out of my head, I can then go about the rest of my day feeling lighter or at least more focused.
Indulge in your favorite hobbies.
A huge chunk of your mental health day should involve partaking in some of your favorite hobbies. Whether that means indoor or outdoor activities, now’s the time to catch up on some of your favorite pastimes.
For me, I love to read a good book or play video games for a few hours. These activities help me “escape” reality for a bit, which then gives my anxious mind a break. Typically, I try to avoid any stressful books or video games during this time and stick to relaxing content, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But honestly, you can enjoy whatever you like!
Treat yourself to, well, treats!
If you can’t treat yourself to something sweet on your mental health day, when can you?
Sometimes rewarding yourself with a well-deserved treat is the best mood booster. Don’t wait for someone else to reward you for your hard work; treat yourself!
This includes buying that new top you’ve had your eye on, finally eating that dessert you’ve been saving, or ordering your favorite healthy meal. Whatever you’ve been craving, you deserve it.
Give your body a little love and attention.
Taking care of your body is just as important as taking care of your mind, and the two often coincide. When you show your body a bit of love, you start to feel better about yourself, too.
Something I love to do for my mental and physical health is practice yoga or exercise for at least 30 minutes. You’d be amazed at how good you feel after stretching, moving, and exercising different parts of your body. I’m not strictly talking about “serious” workouts, either. Try looking up exercises that help relieve tension and promote relaxation. Meditation and breathing exercises also help you feel centered and focused.
I also like to take care of my hair by washing and deep-conditioning it, followed by a full skincare routine (if I’m staying in) or beauty routine (if I’m going out). The key is to just give yourself a little extra care and attention.
Finally, just relax.
While I know the words “just relax” can be triggering to some (hi, me!), sometimes it’s really just as simple as that.
Draw a nice, warm bath and soak for a few minutes. Pour a hot cup of chamomile tea. Take a quick nap on the couch with your favorite cozy blanket. Turn on your favorite feel-good TV show or movie. Do whatever makes you feel relaxed, calm, and happy. Most importantly, try not to think about all the work you have to do tomorrow.
After a mental health day, I always feel so much more refreshed and ready to get back to my work and projects. Taking a small break from everyday responsibilities can do wonders for your body and your spirit, and you deserve every minute of it.
How do you typically like to spend a mental health day? Do you think you would be happier if you could have more of them?
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Megan Portorreal is a professional writer, editor, and creative in the New York City area. In her spare time, she enjoys reading books, writing about her life, and playing video games.