I took two days off from work recently. I had no agenda, no doctor’s appointments, no functions to attend, no vacation to take. My ten-day Balinese yoga retreat had already suffered the same fate of so many other planned vacations this year. Using the money from the canceled retreat, I started a small business on top of my full-time job, so I’ve been knowingly burning the candle at both ends.
While my full-time job working in the pet industry has been busier than ever, with families choosing to spend their time at home with new furry friends, one thing that hasn’t changed this year is the need for us all to take a “mental health” day. We all seem to be focused on a productivity mindset and busy badge culture causing us to frown upon a true day of rest.
When we take days off from work, it is often to squeeze in all the tasks we couldn’t fulfill over our lunch hour or in the evenings. Even weekends run full tilt, filled with kids, chores, or shopping for the week ahead. My husband and I spend most weekends working on our future hobby farm, so my two days off are often spent on DIY projects. I enjoy the time in nature, but rarely come home on Sunday afternoons feeling rested.
In a year where we all thought we would take time to slow down and appreciate the simplicity of life, we seem to be more over-extended than ever now in 2021. Craving connection, we’ve signed up for online courses, hobby tutorials, and new forms of exercise. All of these things can constitute time well spent, but where is self-care on the list? For many, it is the easiest thing to eliminate from the “to do” list.
With so many of us working from home, it blurs the lines even more between the workday and personal hours. It is important to your immune health and your mental health to make yourself a priority. Self-care is a form of kindness that you should never miss the opportunity to engage with.
Here are some tips for spending those hard-earned vacation hours even if you never leave the house.
Time it right.
It is easy to take a Friday off in the spirit of a “three day weekend”. If you are someone who usually dreads Mondays, take Monday and Tuesday off! Not only will you avoid a “case of the Mondays”, by the time you go back, you are halfway through the week. Also, plan far enough in advance that you can block your calendar and arrange for reliable back-up support who will respect your lack of availability.
Adopt an “opposite day” mindset
Usually start your day with multiple cups of coffee? Try a soothing cup of decaf tea. Soak in a hot epsom salt bath in the middle of the day. Eat ice cream for lunch or breakfast for dinner. Any rules about what you should be doing with your time go out the window.
Visit with an isolated friend
Set clear boundaries…with others AND yourself
Most importantly, UNPLUG
Even if you don’t have a desk job, you are likely racking up screen time these days. Do not spend your agenda-free vacation chained to technology. I pulled out my favorite cookbook and prepped freezer meals for the weeks ahead, a self-care measure to avoid overwhelm on my busiest days. Maybe you finally finish that book you keep putting down. Maybe you cuddle with your pets. Or maybe you just lie on the floor listening to some meditative music. Your brain, and your eyes will thank you.