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Mental Health

Ways to Spend a Mental Health Day

I am a firm believer in taking time off of school and work for both physical and mental illness. Mental health days are important for people dealing with anxiety, depression, or any other condition or situation that leads you to feel unwell. Many professionals and organizations have stressed the benefits of mental health days for those struggling with their mental health. We are now in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is completely understandable that we all might need an extra mental health day or two to prioritize ourselves during this difficult time.

In my experience, certain activities have been more beneficial to my overall mental well-being than others on mental health days. It can be very tempting to curl up in bed watching TikToks all day, but this will probably not leave you feeling better in the long run. The idea of a mental health day is to recharge and do things that will rejuvenate you for the days to come. Here are some of my recommendations for how to do that on your next mental health day.

Make your bed

Making your bed may be the last thing you want to do if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, but I promise it will make a huge difference. Making your bed soon after you wake up will help you start your day on a positive note. You don’t have to be super productive on your day off, but I guarantee that making your bed will help you feel a little bit better and set up a better mindset for the rest of your day.

journal

I love journaling, especially on days when I feel anxious. Sometimes simply putting your racing thoughts on paper can make a huge difference in how you feel. Whether you prefer a traditional diary, an empty Word document, or a guided journal with specific prompts, try to jot down a few of your thoughts. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you can also draw a picture or do some coloring to calm your mind and create something simple.

sit or walk outside

Fresh air is something both your body and mind need, and spending even half an hour outside can be very helpful for your well-being. Even in the middle of winter, most Colorado days will have decent weather and a lot of sunshine which is perfect for going on a short walk or working on homework in your yard. If getting outside isn’t something you are able to do, I recommend opening your blinds and cracking your window, so you still get some sunlight and a little fresh air cycling through.

treat yourself

Mental health days can serve as a great reminder for you to slow down and make time for things you enjoy. This can mean something different for everyone–whether you buy your favorite venti drink at Starbucks, cook your favorite meal for dinner, or go for a hike along the gorgeous Flatirons, make sure it’s something that makes you feel happy and refreshed.

call a friend or family member

If you’re anything like me, it is very easy for you to get so involved in schoolwork that you can neglect to keep in touch with friends and family from back home. Mental health days are great opportunities to catch up with someone from home. Hearing a loved one’s voice can be very therapeutic in its own way, and laughing with a friend can be just the right medicine to help you feel better.

take care of your basic needs

Finally, mental health days can be great opportunities to reset and make sure you are taking care of your basic necessities. This is nothing you haven’t heard before, but it really does make a huge difference when you eat enough food, drink enough water, and get enough sleep. Funny enough, taking care of your body’s needs can really help your mental health. This will also help you start some healthy habits to continue when you return to work or school.

I hope these ideas are helpful for next time you take an off day for yourself! Please remember that taking a mental health day is nothing to feel guilty about and that sick days are valid for both physical and mental illnesses. The world is scary right now, and we all need to take some extra time to take care of ourselves. Stay well!

Jordyn is a junior at CU Boulder double-majoring in music and psychology. When she isn't writing her next article, you can probably find her reading, exploring restaurants around Boulder, or hanging out with her silver lab puppy.
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