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From deciding when to take a mental health day to how to spend it when you do, these strategies will leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Whether you’re burned out from work, emotionally drained from a break-up, or just mentally exhausted, there are endless reasons why you might want (or need) a mental health day. In fact, you don’t need any “reason” at all. And while a day off isn’t a bandage for larger issues surrounding mental health, it can give you the rest or space you desperately need—if you do it right.
But what is the right way to spend a mental health day? That can be a bit tricky. You already know it’s important to regularly partake in self-care—and no, you don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars on spa treatments to do it—but there’s certainly a difference between getting lost in social media scrolling and taking time for more mindful practices.
Here, we break down everything you need to know about mental health days—from when to take them to how to ask for one to how to spend your much-deserved time off.
When should you take a mental health day?
Treat your mental health days like vacations—plan them out in advance as much as you can. Rather than waiting until you’re at your breaking point, try setting aside one day per month to take care of yourself. Amber Benziger, a psychotherapist based in New Jersey, says it’s important to be proactive—not reactive. “[We should be] making it the norm, instead of something we’re doing because we’re being reactive to being really burnt out,” she says. “Because if we get in a pattern and habitual state for ourselves of adding in that self-care, you’ll [be] less likely to have that burn out.”
Depending on your situation, you may be able to take a day off from work or dedicate a weekend day to pampering yourself. However, if you’re not able to take time off right now, that’s OK! Benziger recommends spending a few hours in the evening doing something just for you. You don’t need to dedicate a full day to self-care for it to positively benefit your mental health.