Restorative Mental Health Days

Aimee Duffy, M.D. Physician / Lifestyle Architect / Wellness Mentor                                                                          April 2023

Restorative mental health days can be an excellent way to separate from life's stressors and concentrate on a recovery phase for your mental and emotional well-being. As a growing trend in our society, people have recognized the importance of caring for their
mental health and being mindful of the physical results it can create. Simply put, a mental health day is a day off from work specifically to address one's mental health needs. This could mean taking a day to rest, recharge, and seek professional help.

Schedule Your Disconnect

Perceptions of a mental health day can differ from what we think we need. For example, going shopping or other indulgent activities may be beneficial distractions, but your mind needs some dedicated time to restore and rejuvenate to its best version of you. Think of
it as a vacation for your brain!
Purposeful planning should be done in advance. Consider some goals, plan your methodology, and commit to your objectives. We are much more likely to succeed if we know where we're going and how to get there! And I encourage you to disconnect from technology altogether. Setting your phone to silent mode and slipping your laptop into a drawer is fine for a day. After all, the entire point of a mental health day is to create space to unplug and just be you.

Counting Sheep

Sleep provides a time for your mind to rest and recharge. With adequate sleep, memories, emotions, and information are processed and stored. Because sleep blocks our mind for mental and emotional processing, it would make sense that lacking it would create additional stress. Getting a good night's sleep before your mental health day will help you find peace.

Healthy Eating

Think of your brain as a race car that requires high-octane fuel. Eating high-quality foods containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and enables it to maintain its race. On the contrary, putting low-cost fuel in your vehicle would cause your car to lose the race. Your brain reacts comparably to the car if you're consuming a regular diet of processed or refined foods.

Your brain cannot rid itself of harmful elements that cause oxidative stress and promote inflammation. Many studies have found a link between high levels of refined sugars and impaired brain function — and worsening symptoms in mood disorders, such as depression.

Move Outdoors

The benefits of exercise and fresh air cannot be overstated for improving outlook and attitude. In addition, the outdoor activity provides many benefits beyond a typical gym workout. For example, exercising outdoors increases our exposure to sunlight, including vitamin D production, which links to improved mood. It also promotes bone health, boosts immune function, and reduces inflammation.

Good Hygiene, Good Mood

A mental health day is a terrific time to give yourself an added boost! We are so busy that we need more time for ourselves. So this is a great day to schedule that hair and nail appointment! Or, if a skin condition is haunting you, consider an appointment with a dermatologist or aesthetician. It may be as simple as a leisurely bath at home with scented candles or spending a couple of hours in a spa environment; what counts is that you emerge feeling cleaner and more comfortable.

Find Your Creative Self

Creative expression is integral to mental health and is found in several ways. The only rule that applies is opening your mind and letting the project materialize. Below are some prompts to help you get started.
Write a poem. Poetry is one of the most powerful art forms because it can be personal and intimate. It can also be deeply therapeutic. Writing poetry will help you get those emotions that are bottled up inside, which can be highly beneficial for your emotional health.
Draw something. Drawing is another excellent way to express yourself creatively. You don't need fancy supplies or skills to draw - all you need is a pencil and something to draw on!
Writing or journaling can help you write out your feelings on paper, releasing stress and anxiety from your body more quickly than other forms of expression might. You may want to make this part of a regular routine.

Play an instrument. Playing music has been shown to have many benefits, including reducing stress levels, improving mood, and increasing self-esteem. In addition, music, therapy is often used successfully as an intervention for people who have experienced trauma or have mood disorders like depression.
Take photos or shoot videos with friends. Photography is an artistic expression that can be enjoyed alone or with others in almost any setting. Natural scenery, people, animals, or common themes can be an endless world when you're looking through the lens of a camera.

Reach Out

Losing touch with family and friends in a busy life can be easy. And when you do see them, you may not want to talk about what's going on in your life or feel like your problems are too small to bother them. A loved one or trusted friend can help sort through things, especially if it's someone who will listen without judgment. (Sometimes just saying it aloud is sufficient to release it.) Support will help when coping with whatever is happening in your head.
Professional therapy can be beneficial if you have trouble opening up about your feelings or if certain things about yourself make it difficult for others to understand. A trained therapist can help guide you through these issues so you can become more comfortable with who you are.

In Closing

Mental health days are essential. They can help reduce stress, improve sleep quality, give space to reflect, and offer reset opportunities. For some, mental health days are vital for coping with depressive disorders or chronic health problems that, if unaddressed, can lead to physical symptoms. Conversely, not taking mental health days can lead to increased stress levels, symptoms of depression, and substance abuse. As such, these days off are crucial to maintaining mental wellness.

Special Invitation!

If you'd like to learn more about self-care and becoming a healthier version of "you," please check out my upcoming Luxury Wellness Retreat overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean this May 15th to the 21st! We will guide you through yoga and meditation sessions, healthy cooking classes, and fitness classes tailored to your specific needs. Additionally, you'll

have opportunities to participate in treatments, including massage therapy and Reiki, to help you relax and rejuvenate. We'll offer a variety of activities to help you connect with nature and explore - walks up to the top of the hill, yoga, workouts in the garden, water aerobics, and an excursion to watch the famous Acapulco Cliff Divers!"

See you there!!


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