World Mental Health Day takes place every year on October 10. The objective of this day is to:
- Create awareness and reduce stigmas about mental health issues
- Encourage individuals and workplaces to prioritize their mental health
Keep in mind that you can take your own personal mental health day any time throughout the year. Although a mental health day looks different for everyone, it’s typically a day off from school or work. And it’s definitely a time to temporarily limit any commitments or responsibilities that could be causing stress in your life. Ideally, you’ll want to have some fun or simply relax. How you do that, of course, varies based on your situation.
Here are a few fictitious examples:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed
Laura has been consumed with work during the past several weeks. Her team took on a large project with a tight deadline that constantly lived in the back of Laura’s mind. Despite the added work stressors, she and her husband still had three kids to care for. As the project neared completion, Laura began to show signs of irritability and exhaustion.
Recognizing that she might be headed for burnout, Laura scheduled a mental health day. She used the day to unplug from work email and to think about how she might be able to eliminate any unnecessary tasks in her life. She reorganized, recharged and spent some time meditating.
If you’re feeling depressed
Dave had been feeling depressed for a while. He was losing interest in daily tasks and began to neglect his physical health. Poor sleeping and eating habits started to get the best of him. He knew he needed a change, but he wasn’t sure how to initiate it. Before long, Dave realized that his lack of motivation was causing him to spend less time with others and more time alone.
Dave felt like he had reached the crisis stage, so he called in sick and took an unplanned mental health day from work. He then scheduled a visit with his therapist to learn about some strategies for coping with his depression and make changes in his life.
If you need a little fun and relaxation
Joe and Amy are busy working parents with the added responsibility of caring for Amy’s aging mother. They both recognize that the next few years will be both physically and mentally challenging. With that in mind, they’ve decided to schedule quarterly mental health days not only as a way to regroup but also to spend time together.
Their mental health days don’t always require taking a day off work, although they’re prepared to use PTO days for this purpose if they need to. Sometimes they just hire a babysitter and plan something fun to do. Above all, these mental health days are a time to get away from life’s stressors and nurture their mental health.
Make it your own
Everybody has his or her own version of a mental health day. One person may get a great deal of satisfaction from running errands or cleaning the house, especially if that relieves stress. Someone else may want to hike in a nearby park because they view it as a great way to get away and unplug. The important thing is to do something that will nurture your mental health.
With that in mind, here are some things you probably want to avoid on your mental health day:
- Reading through your social media feed
- Checking your work email
- Drinking alcohol or abusing drugs
- Overeating or eating unhealthy foods
- Worrying about things you can’t control
Remember that taking a mental health day doesn’t necessarily mean that you have mental health issues. It’s meant to be a day to get away from the things that create stress in your life. It’s a time to relax and recharge, but above all, it should be a day to take care of you.
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.