Two words: snow day. Kids everywhere scream excitedly because they don’t have to go to school and adults breathe a sigh of relief because they get an unexpected day off of work—guilt-free. That’s why snow days are magnificent. They give you a break, from school or from work, and there isn’t any shame attached. But snow days only happen once in a blue moon… and never, in the summer.
Here’s the thing: we all need a break every now and again. From work and from school, but also from social media, from people, from our busy routines. But we don’t like to admit it, do we? So, we continue to work, to study, to post updates on Facebook and Instagram, to make plans we don’t wish to keep, to half-heartedly run through the motions. All the while hoping for a snow day which might never come or any other excuse to take a breather. That is, until we burn out. And have no choice but to face the truth of the matter—it’s well past time to unplug.
4 Easy Ways to Unplug
A simple self-care technique that many neglect or fail to recognize is unplugging from day-to-day life. It can depend on the person and it can depend on the day, but you could probably benefit from taking a break in one area of your life or another. Are you overworking yourself? Is the constant scrolling taking a toll? Are you giving too much of yourself to others? Might you benefit from a change in routine? If you answered yes to any of the above questions (and yes—all of the above is an option), then it’s time to unplug. I don’t want to hear “I can’t” or “I don’t have time,” and especially not “I don’t know how.” Because that will no longer be an excuse after you read these 4 easy tips for unplugging:
1) Turn off your cellphone: Even if you aren’t a social media addict or relentless texter, turning off your phone for a bit will do you some good. It forces you to tune into what’s going on around you, rather than what’s happening in the digital world. It’ll bring you back down to earth and help to unclog your busy mind.
2) Learn to say no: Stop being a yes-man. If you don’t have the time or energy to go out with friends tonight, say so. If you don’t want to babysit your niece on your one day off, don’t. Stop committing yourself because you feel like you should or have to. You’ve got to take care of yourself first!
3) Treat yourself: Routines are nice, but sometimes you need to step out of line and splurge a little. The laundry in the dryer can wait and so can the dirty dishes—do something you genuinely enjoy doing like dancing, playing with the dog, watching Netflix. Catering to your needs isn’t a chore, but it is a necessity.
4) Take the day off: Who says you have to wait until a snowy day in winter to get some time off? If you feel like you could use a break from work, take it. And don’t feel guilty about it. Sometimes we need a mental health day—typically when we’ve worked ourselves to or past exhaustion—and at others, we just need a day to ourselves. To catch up on some reading, to hang with the kids, or to simply relax. I know, it’s hard to not feel guilty about this… but we’re going to get there. (Just keep reading.)
There’s No Shame in Self-Care
Taking a day off of work or school is difficult for many. Because even when we do swallow our pride and call out, we’re often haunted for the rest of the day by guilt or shame. Why is that? Why do we feel guilty for taking a day off when we really need it? I don’t have an answer to that question. But I do object to this tendency of ours, and I say it’s time to feel good about taking a day off. Michele Stans, Certified Holistic Life Coach, agrees with and explains this notion:
“Sometimes we just need a day off. To me, a hooky day is one where you just play. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, everyone needs a break.” Stans goes on to outline a few general rules for your hooky day: no laundry or housework, and no work-work. “It’s hooky day!” she says. “When you played hooky in school there was no thinking about what was going on in history class or thoughts given to what chores needed to be done. You went to the beach, the arcade, the movies, etc. In grown up hooky day, it’s the same thing. You are given paid time off from work for a reason and if you work for yourself, I am sure your boss will give you a day off. Whether you plan it or not, the main goal is to have fun. This is not a sick day or a day to catch up on personal stuff. This is a day to recharge.
So maybe go to that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, go see a movie, binge watch that new show on Netflix, if you love cooking try making a new dish, go to a toy store or a book store. Do things that bring you joy. Doing this once every quarter or every other month can recharge you in a way that a mental health day can’t. The difference is we take mental health days because we feel we are at a breaking point. Hooky day is planned right into your calendar and you take it whether you need it or not.”
Mental health days are especially important when we feel exhausted, burnt out, or we’re going through a really challenging time. Do your best to drop the guilt, take some time to rest and recharge, and practice self-care activities. This might mean catching up with friends and family or spending time alone—tune into what best benefits you.
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