For longtime readers of Wit & Delight, it will come as no surprise that my relationship to my mental health has been one of ups and downs over the years. I’ve dealt with ADHD, anxiety, and depression for as long as I can remember. Over time, I’ve better learned how to pick myself up off the proverbial floor on the days when my mental health takes a dive; I’ve begun to shift my mindset around how I approach bad days on the whole. Along the way, I’ve ever so slowly developed a list of steps I can take to help myself move forward on days when I’m not firing on all cylinders.
While it would certainly be ideal to have the option to take a mental health day whenever we need it, I’m the first to acknowledge that taking a full day off from work isn’t feasible for many of us. Even if you can’t afford to take a whole day off, there are tons of ways you can be better to yourself while at work, at home, and everywhere in between.
Today I’m sharing tips and tools we can turn to on the days we need them most, broken up into five of the less than ideal scenarios in which we all occasionally find ourselves.
You are disorganized.
You wake up each day, putting out one fire after the other. Your mind races always and when one more task gets shoved onto your plate by someone else, you feel like a cup that is on the cusp of overflowing. Everything seems equally important. You don’t know how you’ll ever get on top of your life. There is just too much to do, and no time to do it. You often avoid these feelings by binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix or scrolling through social media.
How to spend your mental health day if you are disorganized:
- Visualize what it would feel like to have an organized and peaceful mind.
- Write morning pages. Jot down all your disjointed thoughts on paper as they enter your brain.
- Prioritize a to-do list by the smallest, most straightforward tasks you can complete.
- Try to keep only one primary to-do on your plate at any given moment. Write down one task, complete it, cross it off, then write down your next task and repeat the process.
- File paperwork, receipts, and other clutter that accumulates in your wallet, drawers, and purse.
- Pay bills and set as many as you can to auto-pay.
- Start a new budget you can manage easily on your phone, like YNAB or Every Dollar.
- Follow up on texts, emails, and voice messages.
- Organize a small area of your bedroom, closet, or bathroom.
- Donate items that no longer serve you to charity or sell them.
You are craving connection.
You are finding yourself feeling tired and irritable after scrolling through social media. You obsess over what you could be missing—both socially and materially. You think about what you could have said or done differently during that one meeting, or that first impression. You have a dull itch you can’t seem to scratch, and emptiness that food and drink can’t fill. You feel uninspired and lack the energy to pursue your passions and hobbies. You feel isolated and overwhelmed all at once.
How to spend your mental health day if you are craving connection:
- Get out of the house.
- Call a friend.
- Take a dog for a walk.
- Pay for a stranger’s coffee.
- Take a mental health day with someone who is supportive and has ethical boundaries.
- Cook something you love to make.
- Do something creative like painting, sculpting play-dough, or taking pictures on a walk through a park.
- Volunteer or donate to a charity.
You need to reset.
You’ve been feeling negative on most days—uninspired, dull, without the fire or passion you once had for experiencing life. You feel as if your relationships are heavy, and you’re unable to see the bright-side in most situations. You feel like the worst-case is always on the cusp of coming into fruition. You’re down. You’re worn thin. You can’t see a way out of your current situation. You crave a new perspective. A fresh start. A clean slate.
How to spend your mental health day if you need to reset:
- Take a restorative yoga class and focus only on your breathing.
- Schedule an appointment for a sound bath or sensory tank.
- Speak with an energy reader, therapist, pastor, or someone who specializes in giving guidance to bring what matters into focus.
- List your definition of a perfect day.
- Make a list of what keeps you up at night and make a vow to set yourself free from the heaviness they carry.
- Sweat it out on a run or brisk walk.
- Hang out with plants by gardening, pulling weeds, or planting an indoor herb garden.
- Walk through a guided meditation on shifting your energy and clearing out negative energy.
- Watch a funny movie or visit with a friend you know can make you laugh.
- Cry if you can.
You need a little self-love.
Your favorite way to blow off steam is to put yourself through a rigorous 8-mile run. You feel like a failure if you don’t check every box on your to-do list each day. You constantly focus on where you came up short. You obsess about the future and how you’ll be able to live up to your “potential.” You often forget to live in the moment. You hate your thighs, your stomach, the way your arms look in that dress. You are your own harshest critic.
How to spend your mental health day if you need a little self-love:
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Touch yoga or therapeutic massage with essential oils.
- Get a mani-pedi.
- Get your hair colored or get a fresh hair cut.
- Add a Himalayan salt lamp to your office or home.
- Buy yourself something you’ve been saving up to purchase.
- Enjoy some silence.
- Unplug and delete social media apps.
- List what you are grateful for in your life.
- Journal about the positive impact you’ve made on others’ lives.
You know what you need to do but you can’t seem to find the motivation. You’ll work through problems in your head, exploring every possible solution, but you’ll fail to take the first step toward action. You can’t figure out why it is so hard to translate your momentum into action. You get things done, but only when someone else imposes a deadline. You feel out of control—like you have lost your own agency and ability to self-manage life.
How to spend your mental health day if you’re procrastinating:
- Get up on time and get dressed.
- Tackle one or two tasks you’ve been putting off for a while—whether that be a few days or a few months.
- Plan where and when you’ll do the tasks you can’t seem to make time for.
- List all the reasons you haven’t been able to complete a certain task and work through a solution for each one.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and commit to working on one task with 100% focus for the entire length of time.
- Think about the simplest and easiest first step toward getting a big goal accomplished.
- Write a contract to yourself outlining one way you’ll commit to keeping on top of daily tasks each day.
- Plan the rest of your week based on what work excites you the most.
- Write down the most important thing you can do for yourself this week and a plan for getting it done.
- Read a book on making small changes like Atomic Habits or The Power of Habit.
Are you able to take a legit mental health day from work? If so, I invite you to join us at our Minneapolis studio on Tuesday, August 13th (tomorrow!) for the first of (hopefully) many open studio Mental Health Days.
If you are planning on joining us, we do request an RSVP, only so we have a better understanding of how much coffee and water to have on hand.
We hope to see you there!
If you’re looking for tools to help you plan out your week and prioritize the tasks that need completing, check out our new line of planning tools now available at Shop Wit & Delight.
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dog. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.