Giving Yourself A Break Is Part Of Self-Care

Leslie Rott Health Guide
  • 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. 

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    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…)  

Published On: April 23, 2014