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How To Take A Guilt-Free, Successful Mental Health Day

Happy Tuesday, readers!

Last week I told you about the mental health day I took (and the unsurprising surprise some folks felt when they found out).

Now, I’d like to share some pointers I learned during the day – some mental health day tips, if you will.

You might think taking a mental health day is a sort of no-brainer. You just call off school or work and chill out, right?

Well, sort of.

For a truly successful mental health day, though, there are a few tips you can follow.

1. Tell People about Your Mental Health Day

Or, at least that you won’t be around.

Let your family, friends, co-workers, clients, and other people you deal with on a daily basis know you won’t be available that day. Let them know you’re taking a mental health day if you’re comfortable doing so; if you’d like to keep it private, just tell them you have other commitments and you’ll get with them tomorrow.

2. Let Go of the Guilt

You won’t have a successful mental health day if you spend it feeling guilty, even if it’s just a tiny, nagging guilty feeling in the back of your mind.

It’s tempting to feel guilty about taking a day for yourself when there are deadlines to meet, a house to clean, a birthday party to plan…but, people need mental health days just like they need physical health days. You were born with a brain and a mind. Why should taking care of them be less acceptable than taking care of your body?

It shouldn’t. You need both.

Do not feel guilty for choosing to take care of your mental health.

3. Do What YOU Need to Do

You might think a mental health day is all about lying around doing nothing.

For some, it is, but keep in mind that not everyone has or needs the same kind of mental health day.

Depending on your needs, your mental health day might consist of:

  • Relaxing. Maybe you’re overwhelmed at work, or haven’t been getting enough sleep. Spend your mental health day recharging your mind and body.
  • Cleaning. Lots of people get stressed out when their homes are messy and disorganized. You might take a mental health day to clean and organize your living area or home office to eliminate stress and feel more in control of your surroundings.
  • Having Fun. Whether it’s hitting up an amusement park or just playing fetch with your dog, sometimes the kind of mental health day activities you need are the kind that help you unwind and enjoy yourself.

4. Eat Well.

And by “eat well,” I pretty much mean eat whatever you want – as long as it won’t make you feel guilty.

Probably not what you expected to read at Your Body, Your Mind, but I think we can all recognize the need to just loosen up sometimes. During my mental health day, I had Papa John’s. I didn’t feel like cooking or even throwing together a salad. I wanted something fast, cheap and – *gasp* – greasy.

Of course, I pulled in the reigns after my mental health day was over, but while it was going on, I ate what I wanted and felt fine about it.

5. Make a Plan

Not everyone needs this step, but if you have something in your life that –

  • Causes you continuous stress,
  • Makes you dread getting up and starting the day, and/or,
  • Prevents you from moving forward, achieving goals, and overall living the life you want,

– you need it.

Spend some time during your mental health day making a plan to “fix” whatever it is that isn’t lining up with your life. Maybe you need a new work schedule, or a new job. Maybe you’ve taken on too much or need more of a challenge. You don’t have to come up with the entire solution on this day, but you might make a list of ideas or talk with a friend or counselor about what you want to get rid of/achieve/change, and the steps you could take to succeed.

Did I leave anything out? What have you found is important for a successful mental health day?

How To Take A Guilt-Free, Successful Mental Health Day

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2012). How To Take A Guilt-Free, Successful Mental Health Day. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 15, 2019, from


Last updated: 24 Jul 2012
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