Let’s face it — sometimes getting through the week is hard. Weekends provide great spaces to recharge, but when the busy-ness starts up again on Monday, most of us feel like we haven’t had the time we need to recover from the previous week. After too many of these emotionally draining and physically exhausting workweeks, all of us have to admit that enough is enough. Maybe we call in sick or maybe we hold out until a planned holiday. Either way, you finally have that precious day off, and it couldn’t be sweeter.
But many of us have a tricky time making the most of our day off. We look forward to this day and build it up so much in our minds that when it finally arrives, this supposedly relaxing day stresses us out because we spend our time worrying we aren’t appreciating it enough or making the most of it.
If this sounds like a situation you’ve encountered, let us reassure you. There’s no right or wrong way to spend a mental health day. The only thing that matters is that you’re practicing self-care ideas and doing things you find relaxing. This will look different for everyone, and that’s just fine. If you’re stressing about how to spend your mental health day, then we want to help by sharing a few of our favorite ways to show yourself love on your day off.
What to Do on a Mental Health Day
The big day is finally here. It’s time for that glorious mental health day. Spend it trying a few of these ideas.
1. Don’t Make Plans
Our work weeks are dominated by our work schedule, and even our weekends can quickly become booked with plans. We move from one pre-assigned or pre-planned task to the next, with very little room for true spontaneity in our lives. Many of us may not even realize what a large percent of our mental exhaustion comes from sticking to this rigid routine and never feeling we have time to do the things we want.
The best way to break out of this? Don’t plan a single thing for your mental health day. Wake up when you feel like it. Eat what sounds good to you in the moment. Ask yourself, “what do I feel like doing right now?” and do it. If you feel sleepy, take a nap. If you feel extra energetic, visit the gym. If you feel like curling up on the couch, put on a movie or grab a book.
This type of spontaneity might feel strange if you’re not used to practicing it, but give this approach a chance. The more you try it, the more comfortable you’ll feel with it and the more in-tune you’ll become with what you enjoy doing.
2. Or Do Make Plans
While some people may believe a day without plans is the most relaxing way to recharge, others may feel the exact opposite. They may struggle to fill a day without boundaries, and when that day comes to a close, they may feel as though they haven’t accomplished anything, leaving them even more stressed out than before.
If you think you might fall into this second category, then the best way to help yourself have a restful day is to set a few goals and stick to them. Write up an actual list so that once you finish something, you can feel the satisfaction of crossing that item off. While you may include household tasks on your list, such as “clean the kitchen,” “take out the trash,” and “pay the bills,” give yourself permission to add fun to your list.
Block off time to take the dog for a walk or go for coffee with a friend. By seeing these things included in your schedule, you may feel less guilty about taking the time to enjoy them.
3. Turn Off Your Cell Phone
All day long, our cell phones buzz in our ears, reminding us of all our many responsibilities and making us constantly accessible to anyone who might want to reach us. While there are many benefits to this constant availability, there’s no denying that it can also be incredibly stressful after a while.
On your mental health day, we recommend unplugging from all of this. Commit to spending the day without your phone at your side. Leave it in your room as you take a walk, play with your pet, read a book, or work on a craft. You might be surprised by how refreshed you feel by the end of the day.
4. Indulge in a Home Spa Day
Nothing says self-care more than taking time to care for your body. And while many of us think of the spa as a place we visit to have professionals perform treatments on us, there’s no reason you can’t replicate many of these experiences at home. If you’re an introvert who will feel most relaxed when spending time alone, you can do these treatments on yourself. If you draw your energy from others, feel free to invite a few friends over to pamper each other.
Here are just a few of the different options for your spa day:
- Take a luxurious bubble bath, complete with soft music, candles, dimmed lights, and maybe a good book.
- Indulge in nail care, complete with a full mani-pedi. If this isn’t something you have a lot of practice with, do a quick search for a YouTube tutorial and follow along.
- Grab your favorite face mask and give your skin a little love by applying this and letting it sit for a few minutes.
- If you enjoy caring for your hair, why not try a hair mask or oil treatment? You might also try a new hairstyle or attempt putting your hair in curlers that take too long for an ordinary day.
5. Pursue a Favorite Hobby
One unfortunate and nearly unavoidable consequence of having a full-time job is that there aren’t enough hours in the day. You likely spend most of the day at the office, come home to make dinner, check what’s on TV, and before you know it, it’s bedtime. Nowhere in that too-short day is there time to practice creativity or work on that hobby or project you keep putting off.
One of the best ways to practice self-care at home is to take time for yourself to indulge in your creative passions. If you’re taking a mental health day, make this the day you spend quality time with that hobby. Maybe you want to practice yoga. Perhaps you’ve been trying to get a bullet journal going. It could be you’re honing your skills as a poet, a watercolor artist, or a pianist. Whatever this activity is, take this time to pursue it.
Doing something creative — something that exercises the part of our brain that loves imagining new things and bringing them to life — will do wonders to reenergize you. This small practice gives us a renewed vigor and an activity to look forward to. It trains us to look at the world differently and find joy even in the mundane parts of our lives. So while we certainly recommend incorporating your hobbies into your daily life, they’re also a great activity to dedicate a little time to on your designated mental health day.
6. Socialize With Friends or Family
Introverts may think the most relaxing way to enjoy a day is to spend it alone. If that’s what helps you wind down, there’s nothing wrong with that. But for many of us, the perfect way to spend a mental health day is to catch up with our loved ones. Call up a friend or two and ask them if they’d like to grab coffee. Pay your grandparents a visit. And what about your mom? Have you called her recently?
Connecting with other people helps us to get out of our own heads, where it’s easy to slip into negative and anxious thoughts about the things getting us down. In cases like these, there’s no better solution than to get out of the house and have a real conversation with a few of your favorite people. You’ll almost always come away feeling a little more upbeat.
7. Cook Something New
If you enjoy getting creative in the kitchen and experimenting with new ingredients and recipes, use your mental health day to cook yourself a delicious, healthy meal. Flip through your favorite cookbook or scroll through your favorite food blog, pick out a recipe that looks delicious but that you’d never take the time to cook during a busy work week, and give it a try. Buy those special ingredients you might not usually splurge on. Try that new kitchen gadget you haven’t been brave enough to use yet. Surprise yourself with what a wonderful creation you’re able to whip up.
8. Order in a Delicious Meal
While many of us love how cooking helps us relax and recharge after a long day, others find cooking to be just one more thing that wears us out. You may even think cooking is actively stressful. If this sounds like you, then your mental health day is the perfect opportunity to allow yourself to skip cooking for the day. Instead, look up the menu for your favorite takeout place and order your favorite foods. That way, you can still have the benefit of eating something tasty on your day off without cooking it for yourself.
9. Turn on Your Favorite Feel-Good Movie
We all have that movie that we’ve seen so many times we can quote almost the entire thing by heart. Maybe it’s your favorite rom-com or a warm-hearted family drama with a happy ending. Whatever it is, this movie just makes you get warm and fuzzy inside. The next time you decide to “take a day for myself,” pop this movie on your TV, snuggle under your favorite blanket with a yummy snack, and relax over this old favorite.
10. Enjoy a Bit of Extra Sleep
Not quite sure what to do when you feel drained and looking to recharge for the day? Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best ones. Take this opportunity to catch up on a little extra sleep. For so many of us, even just an hour or two of extra sleep can make all the difference between appearing bubbly and happy and falling asleep at your desk at the office.
Turn off your alarms and let yourself wake up naturally in the morning. If you find yourself yawning during the day, lie down for a nap. You’ll be much more rested and ready to get back to work after this extra sleep.
11. Exercise to Get Your Blood Pumping
Mental and physical health experts alike recommend plenty of exercise for a reason. It keeps your body strong and healthy, and it’s also important for your emotional and mental well-being. Exercise releases endorphins into the brain, making us happier, more awake, and more energized. So while hitting the gym on your day of rest and relaxation may initially seem counterintuitive, it may actually be one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself to tackle another work week.
12. Engage in Mental Exercises
Everyone gets burned out from the stress of work, family, and daily life. Our tension may extend beyond this and be linked to something deeper that we haven’t yet figured out. It may be an old grudge, a pressing anxiety, or a deep fear you’ve never worked through. While many of us might think we lack the time or mental energy to address these things in the midst of our daily life, a day off is the perfect time to practice introspection and self-examination.
Meditation is a fantastic practice that you might try. Sorting through the things that have been on your mind lately and trying to pinpoint anything that may be causing you anxiety relieves many burdens. Others find it helpful to create lists of past achievements, to remind themselves of their successes and elevate their mood. Whatever you need to sort through in your head, this is an ideal opportunity for doing it.
13. Order Fresh Flowers to Brighten Your Home and Keep You Smiling
If we’re in a bright, cheerful environment, we’re more likely to feel bright and cheerful ourselves. And what better way to add a dash of sunshine and beauty to your home than by ordering yourself fresh flowers to place there? These Rose Bouquets in Mason Jars will be just the thing to bring a smile to your face and keep you feeling upbeat for weeks to come.
If you’re looking to add fresh flowers to your décor, there’s no one better to order from than Ode á la Rose. We provide an incredible range of bouquets that will bring pizazz to your living space. If you live in either NYC or Chicago, we even offer same-day delivery.