Yes, you read that correctly, I took a mental health day off today and I feel 1789493065475 x better for it.
I read about mental health days off on Bustle the other day, and the importance of taking one off, and immediately scheduled one in.
After a pretty chilled-out summer with the bambinos with stress-free, staggered campaigns in between and a surprisingly easy house-move five minutes away, life has resumed to it’s fast paced ways in the last few weeks and it’s now ‘all systems go’ with many deadlines and deliverables, and the transition back to full time work from being part time over the holidays. It’s a bit of a shock in all honesty and has required some subtle acclimatisation.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m incredibly grateful for the collaborations, I love my job, those I work with and being busy (I have lots of energy) but I’m also an empath and fixer too so absorb everyone’s problems and want to save the world (I don’t save this lightly), and with the kids not yet back at school, I’ve felt as if I’m spreading myself too thinly ( a bit like vegan butter) and knew it was time to hit pause, just for the day.
So I did.
I took a day off and checked out.
I realise I’m lucky that being self-employed with the most understand of managers, means I know my schedule well, and can take a day off without asking anyone and of course without affecting campaigns I’m on or deadlines due, but we ARE ALL entitled to take our mental health seriously, to book time out when we need it and whatever our work status.
If we injured ourselves physically we’d take time off so why not apply preventative measures, or time out to rest mentally, when needed too? We owe it to ourselves to prioritise self-care, we really do.
To offer further context to my current malaise, coupled with overwhelm, I’ve been suffering from PMT, one of the starkest physical signals we women receive monthly to remind ourselves to slow down, literally. My friends and I were saying just the other day that the time of the month makes us want to crawl into bed and not leave until it’s over with!
While my PMT symptoms have distinctly improved since I turned plant-based a few months back (and are now mild in comparison to the acute symptoms I once suffered), I do have PCOS so still find myself becoming overly sensitive and fatigued right before, and at the start of my cycle.
During this time, or whenever I feel drained and depleted, it’s hard to SHOW UP and GIVE to anyone or anything fully, so I remind myself why I feel low and try to factor in time for myself even if that means early to bed or no emails past 9pm.
I want to add too that I realise one day off here and there is not the answer for all. I suffered from a traumatic birth in 2010 and know what depression feels like and that it took time, therapy and a move closer to family to start to recover.
While days off do contribute to general wellbeing, if you’re feeling depressed please speak up and visit your GP. In my case, today, I knew I’d regain a sense a calm and greater balance from relaxing away from my home office and the ironing pile, and rest is exactly what I did.
Together with the family, we headed to our favourite place, Cliveden where we picnicked, strolled around the grounds and (I) even napped by the river as the sun warmed our cheeks.
I simply switched off and lived (and slept) in the moment.
I hugged trees (honestly, and about four of them to boot!) and reset that busy mind of mine, observing the ducks by my feet, the bright blue cloudless sky above my head, the sugar almond pink roses climbing the walls and the sunflowers so tall and heavy, their heads bowed at us in the breeze: I lapped it all up and breathed it in.
With every step, the mental load upon my heavy head (like the sunflowers we saw) lifted slowly.
The phone was off, my Out of Office was on (I only sent two urgent emails in the morning) and I didn’t review my inbox until my return later on in the evening.
Admittedly at first, it felt odd not to lean on my trusty iPhone and the emotional crutch it has become (any mini digital detox feels strange at first as scrolling has become our default) and it frankly took a lot out of me not photograph and ‘story’ the last of the balmy day’s light dancing on the ripples of the river as we lay on the bankside, or the boys holding hands in their new matching crisp Converse tees as they pointed at massive fish as they darted under green Monet-like lilies, but I refrained from it all, and on returning home post-nap, post-living in the moment, this tree-hugging mama felt herself once more. (The photo above was taken another time).
And now? My mood has lifted after feeling low for days and the once empty cup is full again (and soon to be topped up with red wine).
Tomorrow, thanks to this mental health day off, I’ll be back to my productive self: shooting, writing, answering emails, helping others, and most importantly, making sure my kids are happy.
Normal, busy life will resume but this time I’ll be ready for it.
Do you need a mental health day off too?