10 Things To Do For Yourself On A Mental Health Day To Make The Most Of It

by Alexandra Strickler

In case you need to be reminded, you are not a robot.

I know, you're probably like, "Girl, I knew that already. Last time I checked, my body wasn't made of metal, and I can feel emotions and have thoughts and stuff."

Well, if you know you're not a robot, you should probably stop acting like one.

In 2015, over half of American workers left part of their vacation time unused, adding up to a total of 658 million unused days.

Yeah, let that shit sink in for a moment.

Clearly, somewhere along the way, we've managed to normalize the idea of not taking time off for ourselves, even though we have the ability to do so.

Dr. Adam Perlman, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine, told CNN,

We try to convince ourselves that feeling overwhelmed and stressed out and not having time to take a day off is normal -- but it's not normal. It's just your reality at that moment.

If you didn't already know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. So what better time to take a mental health day than literally right now?

If you do decide to take one, here are 10 ways to make the most of your mental health day.

1. Turn off any notifications pertaining to work.

I don't know about you, but even when I take a well-deserved mental health day, a little part of me continues to feel guilty about it, and that guilt is usually triggered by something as mundane as a work-related email.

As long as you're planning your mental health days at least somewhat in advance, you can make sure you're not taking time off during a critical time at work, when your absence might send co-workers into a panic.

This time is for you. The world will not stop turning just because you took 24 hours to respond to a work email.

2. Explore your neighborhood.

Good Vibrations Images

Chances are, you probably don't know very much about the area you live in.

Or, at the very least, there are places in your neighborhood you've always wanted to visit, but just never had the time to do so.

I'm talking a park you've never been to before (bonus points if it's a dog park), an antique shop, a thrift store, a small, privately owned bookstore, or that hole-in-the-wall restaurant that emanates a delicious, drool-worthy smell every time you walk past it.

The world is literally your oyster on a mental health day.

3. Clean your apartment.

I know this one doesn't sound fun at first, but hear me out.

First of all, isn't it more annoying to try to squeeze cleaning time in on the weekends, or in the few hours you have to yourself after a long day at work?

Second of all, when you take a mental health day in the middle of the week, you're most likely going to have the house to yourself.

Strip down to your underwear, crank your favorite music up as loud as you want and get to work.

I promise you, cleaning is a billion times more fun when you can pretend you're also performing onstage with Beyoncé at the same time.

4. Go to an adoption shelter, just because.

Pet all the furry babies you want, even if you have no intention of adopting a pet anytime soon.

But, who knows? Even if you don't necessarily walk into the shelter with a plan to adopt, maybe you'll actually walk out of there with a new little forever friend.

5. Read something for pleasure.

Marija Mandic

Whether it's a magazine you like, a novel you haven't gotten around to, or even some interesting articles that have been collecting dust in your Bookmarks tab, now's the time to treat your brain with something you actually want to read.

6. Clean out your music library.

We're all guilty of skipping song after song after song when we have our music libraries on shuffle.

It may not seem like it at first, but taking the time to organize your music feels beyond amazing.

Plus, you can finally take your time crafting some perfect, much-needed playlists.

7. Cook something you normally wouldn't.

Personally, I love to cook, but I hate how long the process can take, especially after a long day at work.

If you've been itching to tackle a tough recipe for awhile now, go out to the grocery store, pick up all the ingredients you'll need and get to it.

I actually recommend baking something, if you're as obsessed with desserts as I am. Banana chocolate chip muffins are absolutely delicious, and they're super easy to make.

8. Visit someone you haven't seen in awhile.

It could be a relative who lives nearby, or an old college friend who happens to live just a subway stop away from you.

I have tons of friends who mostly freelance for work, so our work/weekend schedules almost never line up. A mental health day is the perfect time to finally go and catch up a little.

9. Avoid social media as much as possible.

It is too easy to get sucked into a social media vortex when you have nothing else to do all day.

Sure, you can scroll through your Instagram feed every few hours or so, but don't let yourself get into that soul-sucking habit of switching between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and repeat.

If you have to, you can even turn your phone off for a few hours at a time to cut down on the temptation.

10. Write a letter to your past self.

It sounds cheesy, but I honestly swear by this.

I've done it a few times myself, and it's a great way to gain some perspective on where you've been, where you are now and where you'll be going.

Citations: AMERICANS WASTE RECORD-SETTING 658 MILLION VACATION DAYS (Project: Time Off), No more excuses: Take a day off (CNN)