How to Take A Day Off
Have you ever needed a day off? Of course you have! And how about needing a day off when you haven’t actually gone to work? Yeah, those are totally allowed, too. Let’s face it: life - whether we work outside of the home or not, whether we have kids or not, whether we have CEO-level responsibilities to juggle, or not - is stressful. Just living and taking care of ourselves is a tall order that we are required to do every single day.
Taking a day off is not about being lazy. Taking a day off is recharging, which is absolutely necessary at regular intervals for our own well-being, and the well-being of those around us. Just like your phone or computer that annoyingly blinks until you pay attention to it because it needs a charge, we aren’t much different. I don’t know about you but when I have taken some time away I am much better prepared to show up to be the best parent/spouse/friend/colleague that I am capable of being. Fundamentally, days off are about whatever you want and need in order to recharge.
Here are my ideas and a great place to start when you are ready to call the day yours:
1. Tell your family you are taking the day off. I warn them in advance that I am taking a day off out of courtesy. They should know that I will not be doing dishes or working or anything that I might usually do. When I proudly announce my intentions, I find that my family is usually really supportive. “Great! Mom - you deserve a day off.” Even if they didn’t think I deserved it, I’m still taking the day off. Just sayin’.
2. Shut off your phone. This is a tall order when we use our phones for absolutely everything. But if I am home and declaring it a mental health day, nothing helps my mental health more than not having to worry about my phone. I don’t have to worry about where it is, who is calling, what emails are unanswered, texts, delivery notifications, and more. And I can stay away from mindless scrolling. Most importantly, killing the phone for the day means zero energy is spent on social media. Those who know me know that I have a hate-hate relationship with social media. I just don’t think it should have a prominent place in our lives because it takes us away from living and sticks us in the passenger seat of watching, maybe with slight bouts of disingenuous engagement. But this is my list. So if social media relaxes you, you don’t need my permission to keep it as part of your day off!
3. Do something that doesn’t have any value whatsoever. I was engineered to always be productive and useful. So setting aside that rather ridiculous standard is a big part of my letting go and relaxing into a day. Nothing could be more meaningless than a super-cheesy romance novel. How about spending time catching up on your favorite television show? Or going through the pictures in that box on the top shelf of the closet - not to organize them but to just enjoy them? Don’t make your days off about productivity and don’t feel guilty for letting go of the productivity for a single day.
4. Skip your workout, or get in a really good one. Why not give your body a day off? Exercising regularly has the fabulous benefit of helping you create a body that can have a day off and not be devastated by the absence of cardio. But if you are someone who never finds time for a workout, maybe a day off represents an opportunity to stretch your legs and get out there to hit it hard. Workout or don’t - whatever makes your day feel good.
5. Make or eat something indulgent. It never really feels like a day off unless I have consumed something that I normally wouldn’t. Sometimes it is just a glass of wine instead of water (at lunch! Did I mention that day drinking is an acceptable day off behavior?) It might be ice cream or that cinnamon roll that my daughter bakes. I might break out that recipe that has too many ingredients for a regular weeknight but can be tackled in parts over the course of a relaxing day.
6. Call a friend to just dish. Sadly, on a regular busy day, I find that I don’t pick up the phone to speak to friends simply because I know it will take time away from getting something else done that needs my attention. But with a day away from the routine and the tasks at hand, I find myself more free to pick up the phone and connect. I feel so recharged after I have renewed a connection to someone I adore, be they near or far.
7. Zero commitments. No meetings. No errands. No zoom nonsense. Now that is my idea of a great day off. Looking at the calendar and seeing absolutely nothing that requires my attendance or attention. Just talking about it makes me wish today was my day off….
8. Do something just for you that only requires you. I’m talking to the parents and caregivers out there who are constantly on the run, taking care of business for others. A day off means not doing any of that and just thinking about what you need for once. Self-care is not selfish when done right, which is in moderation and with the intent to return to your former caregiving role.
9. Whatever you usually do to be a responsible adult, do the opposite. I don’t make the bed. I don’t load the dishwasher. I don’t get up with an alarm or pick up my clothes after I change. I might not even brush my teeth. It is my day off so I’ll decide what to spend my day doing and it rarely includes the obligations of my ordinary days. One day of not doing will not derail my life. It turns out, it might even make the following days even better.
10. Let them eat cake. Really. I try my best to not worry about what others are doing with their day. It only serves to interfere with the peace that I am trying to create for myself, which defeats the whole purpose. One day of relaxing your need to control or be involved with what everyone else is doing is progress.