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Summer 2020: On "You Do(ing) You"

It’s been a while, friends! Happy Summer!

Let’s kick off the Summer Edition of the blog series with an important concept: the permission to take a mental health day!

It seems silly, doesn’t it? Needing to permit yourself to take a mental health day during summer because by nature summer entails that things slow down and vacations come into fruition? Yet here we are—most of us still working from home—shuffling family responsibilities (and entertaining our children) with Zoom meeting after meeting. Summer 2020 offers quite the summer entrée, friends! I equate it to a popular summer dish—RATATOUILLE! I little bit of summer everything thrown together in a summer souffle .

For this very reason the pandemic emphasizes the need for us to take a “mental health day” in order to sustain our momentum and be more present for work meetings and the social decisions that weigh on us day in and day out. I personally know many adults who share in looming Zoom fatigue on top of the actual content of the work responsibilities and balancing the needs of their significant others and families. The fatigue is your body’s reminder to slow down and listen to yourself.

In this way, a mental health day is a scheduled pause from the routine—a full break—in which the priority becomes your mental health. It involves an intentional pause in responsibilities (or lessening of close to all of them at the very least) and the taking of time to engage in activities that are soothing and life-giving.

Note: Weekend days do not necessarily qualify as mental health days on their own. Hold on to that for a moment. Weekends do not necessarily count because we pack them to the brim with activities that spill over from the week or that we can’t fit into Monday-Friday regimen that we “make up for” on the weekend. The focus is still usually on others or fulfilling responsibilities for your home life. While a mental health day can certainly be a weekend day, accommodations would have to be made to ensure its proper benefits.

A mental health day is a PLANNED day that is focused on restoring you. It involves the contemplation of activities that will sooth and restore you. These activities don’t necessarily need to be in done is isolation but the focus should on you—what will help you charge your battery, escape stress momentarily, and leave you feeling rejuvenated. This is not selfish. This is self-preserving. And mindfully planned rests are linked to higher levels of productivity and decreased burnout. Business professionals and parents take heed.

Give yourself permission to plan a mental health day. A full day. For yourself. In summer. Start thinking about how you can fill that day and which responsibilities you put on hold or have a family member take charge of for that day. The goal is to fill the day with 2-3 activities that you normally may not have time to do or deem “luxury” in terms of time sacrifice.

Here are a few examples of activities you can plan into your mental health day! Get started in this planning process today!

  • Read. Read a light book for fun or finish that book you keep on putting off.

  • Escape. Spend a significant portion of the day in nature. Go for a hike, to the beach, or place of choice by yourself or only with someone whose company feels pampering.

  • Empower. Engage in a retreat of some sort. Or create one for yourself by lining up feel good reads and podcasts and curating a “empowering” segment of self-nourishment

  • View. Watch something you have been wanting to watch or re-watch for a long time.

  • Sleep. Take a nap. The European culture banks on this concept and research agrees—20 minutes or so of napping and a designated “quiet” time during the day does wonders for your physical and mental health.

  • Be Creative. Paint/draw/dance/write/create something.

  • Connect. Spend quality time with a loved one (distance visit, call, etc.) that you miss tremendously.

  • Suspend. Minimize time on electronics. Put on your “away” message for email.

Stay safe and well, my friends. Every ounce of time invested in your restoration will nourish you far beyond time put in. Plan for it. Give yourselves permission to create a day for you. It doesn’t need to wait for a birthday or anniversary. It just needs to be focused on your heart’s desire for your mind’s health and wellness.

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