What to Prioritize When Taking a Mental Health Day

October 25, 2023

Make the most of mental health PTO

Have you ever taken a mental health day and felt at the end of the day you were more tired, drained or numb than you were before? This is common and so many of my clients report feeling confused on how to make the most of time off. There are some concrete suggestions I follow when prioritizing my mental health on a day off.

  1. Set an intention: Sometimes we take time off and get so bogged down by our to-do list that we don’t actually accomplish anything. Take sometime before the day off (I recommend the night before for about 15-30 minutes) to set the intention for the next day. Do you want to focus on rest and restoration, connection to our values, or maybe processing a distressing emotions. Whatever you decide make sure it aligns to your authentic self.

  2. Create space for flexible thinking: Sometimes we have the best intentions and then something happens that we weren’t expecting. That is ok. Allow for flexibility and explore ways you can adapt for unknown circumstances. Rigid thinking can lead to unhealthy expectations, judgement, and avoidance from your values.

  3. Use the tools you have: If we are working with limited time, this may not be the best opportunity to try a coping skill you are unfamiliar with. Focus on what works, and if you’re unsure making an appointment to speak with a therapist can help you to create a plan with tools that can lead to effective and long term relief.

It’s important to note that taking a day off will not fully relieve the symptoms of intense or impairing mental illness. We live in a society that systemically exploits and takes advantage of your time with little to no reward. We acknowledge that sometimes just having the time to not focus at work may be all that you can do and thats ok. Theres no expectations to use these suggestions, but if you feel called to try let me know how it goes.


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