Feel like you need to take a Mental Health Day? What should it look like?
To Everyone Who Needs a “Mental Health Day”
Do we all need to take a Mental Health Day sometimes? Absolutely. God calls it a “Sabbath” and I don’t know…it’s like He totally knew we’d all need them, like, regularly. Crazy, right?
I’ll admit that hearing young people claim their need for frequent Mental Health Days has had me a bit concerned. After all, back when I was in college, those weren’t a thing. And now that I’m a mom with incredibly full days and a lot of children who need me, I don’t get to just decide: “Naw. I’m not going to mom today. Imma take a Mental Health Day. I’ll just change that diaper tomorrow.”
But then again, God knew from the beginning that we’d need days of rest and recovery. He instituted the Sabbath and He told us to take one every seven days. So I’ve gotta hand it to all the young people claiming that they need a Mental Health Day. Yes, actually. You do. So do I. Let’s do this!
Ah, but how?
I’m in a season of life that taking any time off during the week feels almost impossible. The amount of laundry that piles up with having six little ones? The amount of food? The number of diapers that get changed every day? The homework that needs to get done with the older ones? The gross floors? The paperwork? The dishes? And oh yeah. I work sometimes – you know, on this blog? Can’t give it up because we rely on the income, plus I love my work and want to do it.
I’m not able to simply “take a mental health day” anytime I feel overwhelmed or exhausted. And young people? I’m not sure you should either, at least in the way I hear that you’re taking them. If you’ve got a paper due, write your paper. If you are scheduled to go to work, go to work. If you put off completing (or starting) that project that’s got to get done by tomorrow – don’t ask for an extension because it’s stressing you out. GO DO YOUR PROJECT. (xoxoxo)
Do we all need to rest?
YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. Again, God tells us to rest – at night and for an entire day, once each week. So hang with me here as I flesh out my thoughts about taking a Mental Health Day…
How NOT To Take a Mental Health Day
If your work and responsibilities are all piling up, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and wanting to check out for the day, don’t:
- Decide to stay in bed in your PJs binge-watching shows all day long (you’ll feel like blah at the end of the day instead of feeling energetic from the “rest”)
- Ignore all your work and get even farther behind than you already are (this will make you want additional Mental Health Days, oy!)
- Sit around eating junk food and drinking junk drinks (because you’ll feel like a junk-ball-of-grease-coated-in-sugar is hanging out in your gut by noon, and then you’ll need to take a Physical Health Day)
- Hang out on social media and Tic-Toc for hours (when did looking at all the great things other people seem to be doing make any of us feel better about what we are or are not doing?)
I love a good Netflix show. I enjoy scrolling Pinterest or Facebook to relax. But if I’m behind on work and feeling overwhelmed, none of those sedentary activities rejuvenates me. It actually tends to make me more anxious as I neglect my responsibilities and focus on things that aren’t important.
What a Mental Health Day should look like
I’m no expert. I’m simply learning more and more how to take good care of myself. Admittedly, taking an entire day to rest is almost impossible during my current season in life. But if I ever feel like I’m melting down, I pray about what God wants me to do to find rest in Him.
That’s the key: Finding rest in Jesus. Not just resting and ignoring my responsibilities. Instead, here’s what I find to be restful and refreshing so that I can keep my mental health healthy:
- Take a long walk or get some other form of exercise
- Take a nap
- Drink extra water
- Sit in the sunshine
- Eat nourishing food that I love – like an apple with this special cheese or a tasty smoothie
- Take a few minutes throughout the day to knock out a few looming projects (it’s amazing how refreshing it can be to know I finally checked some extra chores off my list!)
- Turn on music and open the curtains to let the light shine in while I tackle a normal activity like folding laundry or loading the dishwasher
- Take some time to read a book
- And yes, sometimes as a way of refreshing I may sit for an hour during the kids’ naptime and watch an episode of a favorite show, eat a treat, or do something else that feels like a lovely change of pace from the grind of the normal day-to-day. There’s nothing wrong with this!! As long as it isn’t used as a way to avoid the actual needs our bodies and souls need!
Above all, pray.
Taking a Mental Health Day will only be a tiny bandaid to your weariness if you don’t use your time to talk to God and let Him talk back to you. If we are exhausted, feeling depleted, overwhelmed by stress, and overworked – the only real solution to finding rest is to seek God’s Truth and to let Him fill us back up in all of our empty places.
Need a day off? Get dressed and grab your Bible. Sit for as long as you can with it open in your lap, breathing in its Truth and Hope. Let it teach you, enlighten you, and fill you with love. Meditate on it, pray over it, and let it fill you and refresh you.
Taking care of ourselves is important!
But self-care rarely involves online shopping and time on Snapchat. Self-care should be all about letting God give us all that He knows we need. Seeking Him through this is crucial, and yep, we should actually schedule it in. I believe God calls it a Sabbath? But we’ve been through that already. :)