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How to Take a Genuinely Nourishing Mental Health Day

Have you ever taken a day off to tend to your mental health? Have you even thought about it?

So many of us take days off to run errands and to catch up on household tasks. We take days off to accompany our kids on field trips and hold them when they’re sick. We take days off for all kinds of reasons, but most of those reasons have little to do with nourishing ourselves.

Of course, being with our kids is absolutely important and honors our values. And tending to our to-do lists can bolster our well-being. Checking off tasks can certainly serve as a stress reliever.

But taking a mental health day is about you. It’s about nurturing your emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It’s about getting very honest about what you need, and it’s about giving that to yourself. Wholeheartedly.

As such, here’s a list of sample activities you might engage in on your mental health day:

  • see a therapist for an hour-long appointment
  • have lunch with a friend
  • sleep in
  • wake up earlier to watch the sunrise and then take a nap
  • visit an art gallery
  • bring your journal along with your favorite lunch and have a picnic at the park
  • stay in bed and read an entire book—or two
  • buy a book and take it to your favorite coffee shop, or to the beach, or anywhere else you’ve been longing to go
  • take a dance, painting, cooking, or meditation class
  • attend a one-day retreat
  • see a musical during the day
  • create a spa retreat at home

Of course, sometimes taking an entire day off simply isn’t possible. But maybe it’s possible to take half a day—or a few hours or a single hour. Everything counts.

Right now jot down your version of a nourishing mental health day (or a few different versions). How do you want to feel on that day? What would you like to do? What would you like to see, smell, taste, touch, and hear? What helps you to genuinely rest and relax? What helps your mind to rest? What helps you to feel recharged? What helps you to heal? What have you been needing lately? How can you meet these needs? What would prioritizing your mental health for a day look like?

After you create your ideal mental health day, figure out a few good days to take off. Then this week talk to your boss. If you have the days available, you can make this into a monthly ritual (whether you take a full day or half a day). Or maybe you leave work early once a month on Friday, and extend your mental health day into the weekend. And perhaps you can add one or two rejuvenating, nourishing activities to your weekly or even daily routine. Even short bursts of self-care are powerful.

Remember that your mental health matters. Remember that you matter. Remind yourself of these truths all the time—and make sure that your actions reflect them.

Photo by Gladys Aguayo on Unsplash

How to Take a Genuinely Nourishing Mental Health Day

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2019). How to Take a Genuinely Nourishing Mental Health Day. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Sep 2019
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