As summer winds down, we know how important it is to unplug and just get away from it all. But sometimes we spend so much effort and will planning the perfect vacation that we’re completely exhausted by the time our days off roll in. That’s why, instead of rushing to catch that plane or tiring yourself out on hotel bookings, we recommend a vacation alternative: a self-care day.
Just like the name implies, a self-care day is time you take to focus solely on yourself. And we don’t mean planning activities or setting aside hours to catch up on chores — just a clear schedule with no obligations other than to make yourself as relaxed as you’ve ever been.
“It’s important to have opportunities to rest and reflect and recharge,” Leah Weiss, PhD and a Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer, told NBC News. “Our bodies and minds are not meant to push constantly — even elite athletes need to have rest as part of the process of becoming stronger.”
We’re not the only ones who agree: Forty-five percent of US workers said taking time off to care for their mental well-being would help them beat burnout, according to a 2015 Deloitte survey. So put your favorite bottle of white wine in the fridge and scroll down to read some tips on how to plan a mental health day that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Schedule a Self-Care Day
Schedule in Advance
We get it: From work to family to social engagements, the dots on our calendars just never seem to end. As much as we’d like to suddenly vanish to a remote island, our lives intersect with so many others' that simply wandering off from our responsibilities would end up causing a hard-to-clean mess. But that’s perfectly fine — it only shows how important you are to so many people! Plan your self-care day for a time when you know your attention will definitely not be needed (or needed less than usual). Then, once all those dots are cleared from your calendar, make sure you tell your employer and loved ones that you’ll be unreachable. They’ll respect you telling them in advance, and will understand why you’re taking this break. Trust us, communication is the first tool to perfect relaxation.
Tidy Home for Self-Care Day
Tidy Your Space
The temptation to do something on your day off will be strong. To help you resist, get all your chores done on the days leading up to your self-care holiday. Whether that means tidying up the living room, getting laundry out of the way, or scrubbing down the kitchen, fixing your home in advance will clear up your schedule while leaving you with an orderly space perfect for decompressing. Afterward, tuck those cleaning supplies into your broom closet and don’t give them a second thought.
Unplug on Self-Care Day
Fall Off the Grid
“Sleep is when everything repairs itself and allows the body to recover,” Tara O’Sullivan, chief creative officer at SkillsoftYou, told NBC News. “You need to allow your thought process to do the same.” However, you can’t really give your mind a break if you’re checking things like your phone or email every five minutes. For your special day, turn all app notifications off and let coworkers and family members know you won’t be responding to messages until the next day. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could go ahead and just turn off your phone and laptop for 24 hours. And this doesn’t just apply to the latest gadgets: Try to avoid reading the newspaper or watching the nightly news — anything that will keep you plugged into the day-to-day — as well. The world will still be there tomorrow; on your self-care day, the only thing you need to catch up on is your own well-being.
Quiet Self-Care Day
Embrace the Quiet
When you’re trying to figure out how to plan a self-care day, don’t worry about making a dizzying list of activities to accomplish. Figure out what you want to do, not what you need to do. If you’d like to stroll around the local woods, go for it. If baking a pie is your favorite way to unwind, pound away at that dough. Even things as simple as a warm bubble bath or sipping chardonnay in a quiet room can go a long way in helping you center yourself.
Happy Self-Care Day
Don't Overthink It
All in all, remember that this day is about one thing: you. Don’t cling to plans that might fall through (who knows, that stroll through the woods could be hampered by an unforeseen summer storm). Instead, take time to enjoy simple things like a good morning coffee or lying back on a blanket-covered couch to go over all the things you’re grateful for. “Just like you should be exercising to take care of your physical health, you should also do mental strength exercises to care for your mental health… And if you need a day off once in a while to care for your mental health, don’t be afraid to take it,” psychotherapist Amy Morin wrote for Forbes. “Sometimes slowing down and caring for yourself can go a long way to helping you become mentally stronger.”