What does the perfect mental health day look like to you? Try these tips for when you need to take a break.
We often talk about mental health and taking a mental health day, but how many of us actually know how to take care of our mental health? While the thought of spending a day watching tv or scrolling through social media sounds enticing, our brains are still being triggered! Instead, I’d love to share some ideas on how to authentically relieve stress and renew your vitality. Especially on days where your energy feels low, it is so important to turn your focus back to yourself, and notice what your mind and body are asking for. Right here, right now. Ultimately, taking a mental health day looks different to everyone! While there is no right or wrong, the following activities are what I prioritize on my mental health day.
What to do on a mental health day
1. Turn off all notifications for the day, and commit to no social media in the morning
I make sure to have a dedicated morning practice, which includes a combination of breathwork, meditation, and Ayurveda, even if only for five or ten minutes. I often get the comment, “But I don’t have time in the mornings!” In this case, I invite you to let go of one activity that eats up your energy and plan ahead. Maybe spend five minutes less on social media, and instead allocate that time for five minutes of stillness.
I understand that sometimes we need to be online to connect with loved ones—or even access your guided meditation online— that is completely fine! A hack would be to turn off the notification alerts so that your nervous system is sheltered from constant stimulation, and instead to access your technology with purpose and intention.
2. Emotional labeling
I ask myself, out of 1 to 10, how stressed do I feel at this moment? Being able to label what is happening allows me to detach, and take ownership. Bringing distance to the situation allows me to recognise that this is an experience, and not my identity.
3. Sitting in the sun for five to ten minutes
This sounds so trivial but as city folk, we often don’t make time to absorb vitamin D! Scared about exposing your face? No problem! Grab that 360-degree sunhat and allow other parts of your body to receive sunlight. I’ve definitely avoided the sun in order to protect my skin, but I also had to ask myself, “Is vanity or my mental health more important?”
4. Spending time with my crystal singing bowls
Although I now share the vibrations and resonances of the bowls with others, the bowls came into my life mainly and firstly for self-healing. I cultivate a relationship with them as I would a friend, because each one has a unique energy. The bowls are all about lifting vibrations, and being present in the moment. When I play them, I can’t rush or force the sound, the process has to be very organic and patient. This is always such a beautiful invitation for me to slow down and unwind, both physically and mentally. If you don’t have singing bowls at home, is there an activity that allows you to slow down and be present? Maybe it might be gardening or spending time with a musical instrument?
5. Detox journal
I release every thought that doesn’t serve me anymore by writing it down and then ripping the paper. It can be especially cathartic to burn the paper, if you have the space to do so safely.
6. Moving my body
Even if it’s 5 minutes of yoga, or a prolonged 10 second child’s pose, or shaking my body to a Britney Spears song.
7. Lying on the floor and coming into a fetal position
I like to spend time on the floor, away from my desk and chair because it physically brings me closer to the ground, reminding me of humility. If you don’t feel comfortable on the floor, options include using blankets, mats or towels. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the more grounded you are, the more in touch you are with your first and foremost basic need: stability.
8. Inviting the element of play
While video games can be fun, I try my best to do as many activities as I can offline, and connect to non-digital sources of what I enjoyed as a child – maybe it’s piecing together a puzzle, colouring or journaling. I ask myself: what would five-year-old me like to do now? Playing helps to nourish creativity and being present in the moment. Play is so underrated, especially for adults.
9. Becoming aware of how you talk and treat yourself
The more you cultivate a stronger relationship with yourself, the better you can build your resilience and know how to handle adversity when it arises. Try being in the present instead of holding on so tightly to the past or focusing on what has yet to happen in the future. Be your own cheerleader. Talk to yourself like you would your best friend.
One of my favourite quotes is “A real sign of progress is when we no longer punish ourselves for our imperfections,” by the incredible Yung Pueblo. On World Mental Health Day on 10 October, I invite you to be okay with not being okay, to turn inwards and listen more deeply to what you need instead of searching for external validation. No matter what you do or don’t do, choose compassion and non-judgement for yourself, always.