(This article is dedicated to Brenda, the first boss to show me the value of “time just for me”.)
Your life is busy. You know how it is, the list of things that need your attention is never-ending on the quest for your piece of the American dream. Day after day, week after week, you push forward, sacrificing sleep and spare time today, for the promise of your visions coming to fruition tomorrow. Before you know it, that dream job you created can become just as arduous and draining as the corporate life you left behind.
It can happen, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
With a little planning and wee bit of interest in your own self preservation (sharpen the saw and all that) I would like to share a little gift I was given years ago by one of my very first bosses, a gift that forever changed my experience of work.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce…..
The Mental Health Day!
A mental health day is a day off. Not a usual day off like a weekend or a holiday or a sick day when you are too weak to eat much less have any fun, but a perfectly planned day off off off, when everyone else is working, for no reason at all except because you say so.
Just imagine that for a minute…
A day totally off, no laundry, no “just one more thing”, no looming deadlines…
A day without the phone ringing…
A day without responsibilities…
A day without the kids…
A day without a meal to prepare and no one to answer to.
A day OFF! OFF! OFF! How would you spend that day?
Sleep in…..go for a walk at 10 in the morning….hit the spa or get an in-home massage…. read books in bed… watch movies all day…paint in the sunlight…go climb something…
There are no rules here. Just a day, totally off, just for you. The possibilities are endless.
But I Could Never!
I know some of you are thinking, “Nice idea, but I could never do it.” You have too much on your plate and too many responsibilities. Or maybe you just feel really uncomfortable with the idea of taking that time for you, that it would be silly or presumptuous or unreasonable to take a day for such "selfish things". Well, if that is the case then I invite you to pay extra attention because you need it more than anyone.
How to Create A Mental Health Day.
1) Clear the schedule for a day in the near future.
What would it take to move all your commitments to other days in the week? What requests would you need to make to have the day totally off, no phone calls, no email, no nothing? What would it take to create a day where you can rest your mind and your body, knowing everything is well cared for?
2) Make a list of all of your favorite ways to use a day.
One of my clients, created her birthday as a mental health day and she filled it with all of her favorite things. The day started … and if I recall correctly, ended with a massage, she had a special lunch planned, and an entire day in honor of her, doing what she loves, surrounded by her favorite people.
Ask yourself "what would make a great day?" and see what comes to mind.
3) Set the stage for your day.
One of the fun things about creating exciting events, like your mental health day, is that it gives you something to plan for and look forward to. In the days leading up to your day, take the time to set the stage for the perfect day!
-Planning an outing? Book the bowling alley, reserve the room at the resort or schedule the aromatherapy consultation – tell them that it is a special day for you and see if they have any suggestions on how to take your experience up a notch.
-Indulging at home? Pick up the chocolate, scour the bookstore for the perfect “day off book” (ahhhh), plan the menu, tidy the house, pile up the fuzzy blankets, rent the movies.
4) Follow through.
The date is booked and the schedule cleared; you are all ready to have your day. But then suddenly, what sounded like such a great idea a month ago becomes an unrealistic burden when the rubber meets the road. When it comes to taking care of ourselves, it is often so easy for us to abandon our cause, make excuses and let life get in the way.
Why should an appointment with your self be any less important than an appointment with a client? Hmmm? Why should a special day with yourself play second fiddle to that report sitting on your desk? Life is full of choices so if you decided to take on the mental health day challenge because it excites and inspires you, then just do it, no excuses, no matter how impossible it may seem when the day comes. There will always be another day to get things done, thousands of them in fact.
It is that old airline wisdom of putting on your oxygen mask first before helping the person beside you. When you are taken care of, when your needs are met and you feel safe and balanced, you are in the very best place to give your best.
The Invitation: I invite you to take The Mental Health Day Challenge!
I invite you to create a generously crafted day off just for you, or if it will bring you joy, just for you and the people you love. (Imagine if you invited your spouse to spend the day under the sheets or a day at a resort, with room service, flowers, chocolate and a 5 course meal – hmmm, I am giving myself ideas here.)
Join the Mental Health Day Challenge and give yourself the gift of time and space. It is the one of the best things that you can do for your business, your energy level and your appreciation of life! (Plus, you know, you deserve it!)