The pandemic has changed a lot about the way we live our lives. Whether we realise it or not, we are often more anxious when our routines are disrupted. Feeling like this can sometimes get in the way of what we need to get done in our day, which can lead to increased feelings of stress.
It is widely acknowledged that mental ill health is now Australia’s leading cause of absence in the workplace. And with the year we’ve had, we can expect to see even more people taking a day out from their working life to relax, recharge and refocus on what’s important.
So, considering taking a mental health day? Here are some tips to get the most out of it.
Find a relaxing activity to do
It might be an obvious one, and that’s why it’s at the top of our list. Spend some time doing a puzzle, drawing, painting or colouring in. If you aren’t a creative person or don’t feel like being creative, make a cup of herbal tea and listen to some instrumental music. And if you don’t practice yoga or meditation regularly, some guided meditation or gentle yoga for beginners is a great way to help you relax your mind and body.
Unplug from work
This goes without saying. You’ve taken a mental health day off work, so put your out of office message on and don’t check your emails or notifications. Work can be a source of stress, so keep it distant while you take the day to feel more like yourself again. A digital detox can work wonders too, so consider spending the day away from screens all together. If you don’t think you can do it, start by going the whole day without using social media.
Do something that makes you happy
Don’t feel guilty about doing something for pleasure on a mental health day. It’s important that you fill the day with activities that make you feel good. If you like to cook or bake, spend some time in the kitchen, or maybe you like to ride your bike or walk on the beach (in which case, get out there! Nature is a great way to boost your mood). Reading a book is the perfect escapism because you need to concentrate on the words to follow the story. This is a great way to take your mind off things, but if you’re feeling too tired to concentrate on reading, get comfortable and watch your favourite movie instead.
Treat yourself to good things
When you’re feeling a little flat, it’s important to take the extra time to treat yourself well. Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, and try not to overindulge in processed and fatty foods. Although they might be tempting, these foods are scientifically proven to not help boost your mood overall. If you’re tired or haven’t been sleeping well in the lead up to your mental health day, take a nap. You can also pamper yourself – get a haircut, go shopping if it’s within your means. You can even do a sheet mask on your face from the comfort of your own home.
Be social – just not too social
Being and feeling connected is an important part of being mentally well. On a mental health day, you might not feel up for going out to see someone. The best thing you can do is call a friend or family member for a catch up – remember not to worry about being a burden and it doesn’t have to be a call to talk about how you’re feeling unless you want it to be. If you would rather speak to a professional, give them a call or make an appointment instead. Avoid socialising in big groups, too. When your fuel tank is a little low, it’s best to be in a 1:1 or small group setting. Casual group exercise classes are another way to be social while getting in other benefits that can help your mood and give you a fresh perspective on things.
At Mood Active, we help people experiencing mild to moderate depression, anxiety and other mood disorders – such as Bipolar, PTSD, SAD and more – get back on their feet through exercise. We offer affordable exercise programs with the extra outreach, coaching support and supervision needed for those who are struggling with their motivation. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.