Today, I decided to take a mental health day. I haven’t taken one in a very long time. Usually, I don’t take time off until I can’t function anymore, and at that point, it’s a sick day. Even CNN thinks it’s a bad idea.
I encourage everyone to take a mental health day every once in awhile. Sure, there are weekends, but if you’re anything like me, I spend them doing housework and visiting family. (I hope you don’t think I’m too much of a party animal!) Life goes so fast, and I always seem to be thinking in the past and planning for the future. That’s why a mental health day is so important. It’s a one day vacation where you can just catch up to the moment.
So, what does a mental health day entail? You can do anything you want! I prefer to stay home alone (I get so much done that way), but the world is your oyster. You can watch your favorite TV shows, read a book, go for a walk, or even spend the day sleeping. Maybe you like video games. Maybe a day trip. It’s your day and you can do anything you want.
If you need some ideas, this is how I spent my day:
- Browsed Reddit and Pinterest
- Cut collage items out of magazines I need to recycle
- Made the bed
- Sang as loud as I wanted while vacuuming
- Dislodged the sock I accidentally vacuumed up (whoops)
- Reorganized my kitchen
- Back to Pinterest, where I found a recipe for homemade pretzels
- Sliced my finger open on the food processor while making said pretzels (double whoops)
- Watched Parks & Recreation reruns and nursed my poor finger
- Soaked my feet. Couldn’t find anything fancy, so I used dish liquid
- Played with my cats
- Admired the IKEA art cart I assembled yesterday. Råskog means, “Awesome job, Clean!” in Swedish*
- Drew with charcoal
- Drank a deliciously artificial grape soda and enjoy it (rather than my usual process of stressing about the corn syrup and purging)
- Went to get replacements for all the ingredients I lost
- Went to a small farm stand where I fed a pig and pet a cow.
* Not actually true
So, how will you spend your mental health day?
Reader mode is the best idea web developers/designers have ever had. Ok, that’s definitely an exaggeration (this is the real “best idea”), but it’s up there.
I’m easily distracted, and I often have a hard time concentrating on text when there’s so much around me. I look at the spacing, the stock art, the ads, the related content… anything but what I’m supposed to read. While this is a valuable asset in my job (web design), it makes it very difficult to glean any of the important written information.
Enter reader mode. Reader mode is a setting on most web browsers that filters out unrelated pictures, ads, and extraneous information on web pages, leaving only the words on a white background. It cleans up the text so you can concentrate on what really matters.
To enter reader mode:
Firefox for Android
Safari on iOS
Safari on Mac
If you work in an office building (or if you’re in school), invest in a good set of headphones or ear plugs. This is critical if you easily get distracted. You can also ask coworkers to email you rather than drop by your work space. This way, you can address issues on your own time rather than being interrupted and find yourself unable to return to your previous task. You also have a written record of the conversation in case you need to consult it later. If you’re at school, you might be able to ask for this accommodation.
Even if you have a morning routine, sometimes it’s easy to forget things you need before you leave your house, especially if you don’t need them every day. If this happens to you, try hanging a reusable shopping bag (the plastic shopping bags tend to break) on the handle of your door. Anytime you’re at home and think of something you’ll need the next day, throw it in the bag. Then, every day, check the bag before you leave.
If your best ideas come to you in the shower, invest in some shower crayons. You can usually find them in the baby area of Target or Walmart for pretty cheap. If you keep them in your shower, you can write your notes on the tub walls and not have to scramble to remember fleeting thoughts.
Create QR codes to function as reminders. I use the service scan.me. You can print the QR codes on address labels and stick them on related items. For example, you can link the QR code an object’s user manual and then stick the QR code on that item. When you scan the code, the usual manual will appear on your phone. You can also use these for chore lists. You can embed the directions on how to clean something in the code, and then scan it when you need the list. What’s the benefit of using QR codes as opposed to tape and paper? Once you scan the code, the information remains on your phone until you delete it. This means you can carry the phone with you while you complete tasks. And, since the codes are always with their related items, you always have the information on-hand. Plus, it’s more fun this way.
I use Siri dictation tools all the time. If I need to remember something, I just ask Siri to remind me of what I need to do. You can even tailor the reminder to locations and times. For example, I can say, “Remind me to empty the dishwasher when I get home.” When I arrived at the location I’ve defined as “home,” a notice will appear on my phone. I also like to use the dictation feature to compose texts and notes to myself.
I use a health monitoring app and wristband called Fitbit. While I use the device mainly for health concerns, one feature that I really like for mental health hygiene is the vibration alarm. You can set the alarm to go off at any time, and it’ll silently alert you using a quiet and peaceful vibration.
I used the alarm function to remind me to take pills, change activities, perform tasks, go to meetings, etc.
If you work in an office building, invest in a good set of headphones or ear plugs (I like the Bose In-Ear Headphones since they work with my phone). This is critical if you easily get distracted. You can also ask coworkers to email you rather than drop by your work space. This way, you can address issues on your own time rather than being interrupted and find yourself unable to return to your previous task. You also have a written record of the conversation in case you need to consult it later. If you’re at school, you might be able to ask for this accommodation.
Sometimes, you might find it difficult to join classmates/coworkers at lunch. Unfortunately, people might think it’s weird or rude that you suddenly don’t want to sit with them and enjoy their company. In addition, you might not want to tell them exactly why you aren’t eating with them. If you’re in school, one way to avoid confrontation is to bring homework with you to the cafeteria. Tell your friends that you forgot to complete an assignment or that there’s a test to study for. This doesn’t mean that you actually have to study, but it does mean that people won’t want to bother you and won’t mind that you’re sitting away from your social group. This method also works if you don’t normally sit with people. Your classmates will think you’re just being studious rather than think you have no friends. If you’re in a work environment, tell your coworkers you have a tight deadline and have to work through lunch.