Your alarm clock goes off. It’s the third time you’ve hit snooze. You open one eye to see if you have enough time to hit it for a fourth. You don’t. In your most basic of basic voices, you mutter “Today… I can’t even.”
Yes. 90% of us say this every morning, but this day it’s different. It may be something at work, it may be problems with a significant other. Whatever it is, it’s so overwhelming that the idea of performing daily tasks seems far too daunting to consider today. Perfect time to take a mental health day and try to reset.
Or is it?
The importance of mental health has been on the rise the last few years. Most of the research on the subject is how to improve it for yourself and, nine times out of ten, it always points back to diet and exercise. Making sure your body is nourished and active will produce and regulate proper hormone balance. That being said, you know damn well you’re going to sit in bed, eat pizza and ice cream and binge Netflix all day. NETFLIX ISN’T GOING TO SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS
So coming back to our subject, is your “Mental Health Day” really helping your mental health?
Let’s first look at how you got to this point. Clearly, something is stressing you out. When you break down a situation, you can typically identify the point where you became overwhelmed. This is where most people will begin to overthink and anxiety starts building from there.
Depending on your outlook, being overwhelmed can be a great learning experience or can become a cancer to your mental health.
Again, if you can identify the point where you feel over your head, always ask for help. At the bare minimum at least acknowledge that this is a weakness and know that if you shift focus on improving in this area, eventually you will increase your mental strength. (We will talk about mental strength in another post that I haven’t written yet. In short, think of your brain as a muscle and stressful situations as exercise.) However, this isn’t the easiest thing to do. A majority of people will begin to overthink and start to drown themselves in fear of failure. This is when anxiety starts to show its ugly head.
This example is pretty vague and feels like it is work related but it can be applied to your personal life, too. It’s just like getting into a situation with a loved one that isn’t getting better and all you can think is “I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do.”
So now we have a pressing situation, building anxiety, and deteriorating mental health. We’ve finally hit the breaking point where you can’t do it anymore and you cancel everything. So what are you going to do next?! You do the worst thing you can possibly do for you mental health. Diverge into almost complete isolation.
As nice as it feels to not have to think or be bothered for a day, everything is going to be waiting for you tomorrow. For the sake of your mental health, it would have been better to just go deal with the issue so you don’t have to think about it anymore. (Again, your mental strength.) If you are going to take a day to reset, you need to actually reset.
- Make sure you eat well. Try cooking something that you enjoy, but normally don’t have time to prepare.
- Put some time aside to exercise. At least just to go outside. Being in nature for as little as twenty minutes has been proven to lower stress levels.
Do you think you can do without one episode of The Office to help improve your mental health?
Mental Health days are important and, yes, you should definitely take them when you need them. But make sure you are being proactive about your health. Laying around all day may be doing more harm than good for you.