For Americans, it can be hard to say “when.” Some may even venture to call us gluttonous but the fact of the matter is we have a voracious appetite for all things whether they might be fireworks (#5 internationally), beer (in the top 20 internationally) or beef (#4 internationally).
Unfortunately, this appetite also comes with a downside (and it’s not just our ever-growing waistlines)—we also don’t know when to stop working.
In fact, the United States is most overworked developed nation in the world meaning we work longer hours for less pay and worse benefits.
Therefore, in honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10th, I’ve decided to write an article detailing 5 ways you can plan your own perfect mental health day.
So go ahead, call in and take a day off.
You’ve earned it!
5. Unplug and Unwind
First and foremost, I suggest powering down your devices for the day. For some, this sounds like severing a limb but I assure you, as increasing amounts of experts begin to find links between excessive device use and anxiety, it sounds like a better and better idea. Besides, you know you’re just going to be tempted to check your work email if you’re fiddling with your phone.
Now, if you’re a parent, I can understand that this can be difficult or all together impossible. If that’s the case, try unplugging for just an hour or, alternatively, turn on your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” mode so only important numbers can get through.
4. Meditate to Increase Mindfulness
One of the best ways to increase mindfulness and center yourself is to meditate, and it’s not as uncommon as you think.
In fact, 18 million U.S. adults have practiced meditation in their life and there’s plenty of reasons why: the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has found that meditation can ease the symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure and even help you quit smoking!
Now, meditation, while soothing, is not simply closing your eyes and falling asleep. In fact, attention should be paid to small details like your breathing and the movements of your body. I suggest doing a little reading up on meditation or even springing for a guided meditation program or podcast if you’re a novice.
3. Get Some Exercise
Another great method for relieving stress and anxiety is to get some exercise. In fact, researchers have found that even just five minutes of aerobic exercise can increase the amount of endorphins in your brain, leading to lower levels of stress and anxiety.
2. Read a Book
I know—it seems these days that most people are either watching their streaming services or just idly swiping around on their phones. Well, we already know that devices can lead to higher levels of anxiety (and you’re supposed to have powered yours down already) and you’ve probably already maxed out whatever show you were watching, so why not try picking up a book.
A 2015 study found that adults who read regularly have:
- Fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers
- Stronger feelings of relaxation
- Higher levels of self-esteem
- Greater ability to cope with difficult situations
- Feeling closer to their friends and to their community
- Greater understanding and empathy with others
- Stronger and more engaged awareness of social issues and of cultural diversity
But if you must watch something on one of your streaming services, at least watch something good.
1. Practice (or Take up) a Hobby
It seems like the most satisfied people I know are those that have their own hobbies. Too many people get up, go to work, come home, eat, watch TV and go to bed only to do it all over again the next day. And while, yes, watching TV could be considered a hobby, I mostly think of a hobby as something creatively fulfilling that’s done out of enjoyment and makes you happy.
Pick up that guitar you haven’t touched in months, build a birdhouse, write a short story or learn to do something you’ve never done before. There’s plenty of virtue in a hobby so don’t let anyone tell you different. Best of all, it’s been shown that having a hobby can make you happier in the long run.
While it may not be feasible for you to take a day off for World Mental Health Day on October 10th, you shouldn’t feel any stigma for taking a day to yourself eventually, especially if you’re experiencing the symptoms of burnout. When you come back, you’ll feel refreshed while being more productive and an overall happier employee.