If you’re constantly counting down the days and hours until Friday, you may be experiencing more than fatigue: it’s called burnout. With the United States reporting extreme levels of stress and anxiety, there are more and more people weathering the physical, emotional, and mental storm of burnout. When the feeling won’t subside and you find yourself wanting to sleep for 24 hours at a time, it’s probably time to schedule a mental health day.
Unfortunately in today’s world, we’re told to be “turned on” at all hours of the day: always saying yes to everyone, always taking on the extra project, and always answering a few more work emails before bed. When you’re wired 24/7, your body has no option but to eventually yell “Quit!”
Stress and burnout can induce everything from depression to digestive issues, and knowing how to be mindful of this is essential to your mental health and overcoming anxiety.
Put up boundaries for your day of self-care: avoid anything that brings you stress, and stay focused on nourishing yourself. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Restore yourself through physical and mental rest. A lack of sleep not only wears on your body, but also keeps your emotions in a state of limbo. Keep your room dark, make yourself tea, and turn off all electronic devices. Tip: if you can’t keep your hands off of your phone, put it in an inconvenient place that is far away from reach!
I definitely would not be the kind to go for a run on my prescribed mental health day, but even 10-30 minutes of some kind of movement is of great benefit to your mind and body. Try alternating between simple yoga poses or going for a short walk. Keep it light and enjoy the boost of endorphins.
3. Go outside.
If you’re spending 40 hours per week at work, chances are you’re not getting much fresh air or sunshine. Coming from a city girl, don’t underestimate how spending a bit of time in nature can be healing for the soul. More time spent outside can decrease your risk of headaches and depression, which are two prominent side effects of burnout.
I have a couple of writing practices that I consistently keep up with, but they are also great to play with on a mental health day: a gratitude journal and monthly love letters to myself. Talk to yourself kindly. Reflect on what’s going on in your mind and heart. Let writing be a way of catharsis—get everything out on paper.
5. Nourish yourself.
Self-care is essential—don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. To live mindfully and with intention, you have to know how to nourish your well-being. Do something you enjoy, and don’t feel bad for doing so! Practice meditation, pick up the book you’ve been wanting to read, or watch one of your favorite mindless movies. Take care of the body that does so much for you, and never neglect it when its telling you to take a day off. You’ll have more energy, feel more balanced, and be prepared for the days ahead.