Giving Yourself A Break Is Part Of Self-Care
When I was younger, my mom would occasionally offer me “mental health days.” These were days where I could skip school and relax.
Believe me, this didn’t happen often, and when it did, I usually didn’t take my mom up on her offer. I was a total school nerd and felt it was more stressful to miss school than it was to relax and take a break.
But since I have been chronically ill, and more recently, I have come to understand the inherent wisdom of the “mental health day.”
For me, now this doesn’t usually mean that I skip school or work. Usually it means that I take it easy on a day when I don’t have work or school.
Not only do I not push myself, but I don’t push myself and I don’t blame myself for or feel bad about that.
A key to self-care is treating yourself with kindness and compassion, and not beating yourself up on days when you just need a break.
Believe me, it has taken about six years of me being chronically ill to be able to say that to myself.
And it’s funny because I would cut other people a lot of slack, but not myself.
And this is a big problem. I think women especially really know how to advise others about taking a break, but aren’t always so good about advising themselves the same way.
Like I say, it’s something that I’ve struggled with for a long time.
But between balancing school, multiple internships, and other responsibilities, I have definitely needed to take some days to step back, breathe, and recuperate.
And usually I’m not sorry. Taking one day doesn’t lead me to take another or another in a row, like I might worry that it might. I wear lounging clothes, read a book for pleasure, and do whatever I need to refresh myself.
But I also don’t let myself get behind to the point where I feel more stressed and agitated than I did before I took my “mental health day.”
And you can call it whatever you want, if you don’t like the term “mental health day.” But I think of it more as a day where I refresh my body and my mind.
And I think that’s the other thing about it. Before I was chronically ill, I think my mind was less tapped because my body wasn’t always on the defensive. So maybe these break days weren’t as necessary then as they are now – although we can use a break sometimes, chronically ill or not.
So if you can’t give yourself a break, take away from this post that I am giving you a break. I am giving you permission to take a break, and hoping that if and when you do, you will treat yourself kindly and with compassion.
(And I guess I have to admit, my mom was right after all…)