4 Great Ways to Use Your Mental Health Days Without Breaking the Bank

When you’re under pressure and feeling stressed, you might feel irresponsible taking time off work. And there’s plenty of stress for everyone, from high inflation and market volatility to global strife and talk of an impending recession.

Ironically, experts say that’s exactly when it’s most important for you to take a mental health day.

People are reaching such high levels of burnout that many are quitting their jobs – 47 million last year, to be exact. Now more than ever, you should take at least one mental health day a month to recharge, says Michele Nealon, clinical psychologist and president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

But using your sanity days to de-stress goes beyond just sleeping and ignoring your work email — and if inflation may come for your gas and grocery prices, it certainly can. come for your local spa or yoga studio.

Luckily, you have plenty of inexpensive options, even if you don’t know it yet. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to relax,” Nealon told CNBC Make It, adding that mental health days may be more beneficial to your workplace productivity than you might think. .

Here are four inflation-proof expert tips for using your mental health days to truly relax and rejuvenate:

1. Move your body

Whether you’re walking around your neighborhood or taking a 10-minute high-intensity interval training routine, make sure to move your body at any given time of the day.

Physical activity is generally linked to better mental health. A recent study in the academic journal Elsevier found that early pandemic lockdowns tangibly reduced people’s physical activity, leading to higher levels of anxiety and depression.

“Setting aside even a little time to move your body can really be rejuvenating,” says Dr. Kimberly A. Yonkers, professor and chair of psychiatry at UMass Chan Medical School, “Just moving your body from happy way.”

Yonkers defines “joyful means” as anything that feels comfortable and exciting to you. She advises you to stick to your own schedule: if 30 minutes is your sweet spot, don’t force yourself to move for a full hour.

The important part, Yonkers says, is finding activities you can’t wait to do. Here are some options:

  • Try a new exercise
  • Practice yoga at home
  • Stretch at random times of the day
  • Go out for a few minutes
  • Go hiking
  • Dance

2. Eat a nutritious meal and stay hydrated

During busy work weeks, preparing balanced meals may be your last priority. But not eating healthy could have a negative impact on your mood, Nealon says. According to a 2020 study, healthy eating habits are generally associated with positive mental health, especially when compared to unhealthy eating study published in BMJ, a medical journal.

“Spend some time thinking about ‘What can I eat today?’ and treat yourself to healthy foods,” says Nealon, “Whatever healthy eating is for you on any given day, spend time feeding your body that day with something healthy for you.

To save money, you can cook a healthy meal at home on a budget: Earlier this month, celebrity chef Guy Fieri told CNBC that whole chickens and Brussels sprouts are great options, as they can each be cooked in different ways. Your mind will also thank you for drinking plenty of water, adds Nealon.

“Remember these three basics: sleep, what we eat, and how we move our bodies,” says Nealon. “Those are three building blocks to keep us going in this marathon of life for the long haul.”

3. Rest

A good night’s rest can do wonders for your brain, says Dr. Kristin Francis, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Institute of Mental Health.

If you’re struggling to get enough sleep during the work week, you definitely need to sleep, says Nealon. Otherwise, Francis recommends going to sleep early at the end of your sanity day, so you can wake up early the next morning and start your day — especially if it’s a workday — with an episode of your show. favorite television, or another method of self-care.

People who work full time often don’t get a full night’s rest. In fact, 32.6% of working adults interrogates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed to have slept six hours or less per night from 2017 to 2018.

“Most people underestimate the importance of sleep and how important it is for us to be alert and efficient at work,” says Francis. “I definitely recommend taking that day if you need to sleep. Your body can catch up with a few extra hours.”

Mindfulness apps can help you sleep better, says Francis, and many of them are free. “The goal is to refuel your mental state and your energy,” she adds.

4. Be productive with your hobby and find balance

Doing nothing may sound like a dream, in theory, but it’s actually a bad idea to use your sanity days effectively.

Francis says that stress and productivity exist on a bell curve: too much stress reduces productivity, while too little stress makes you complacent. She says you can find balance by working on hobbies while you’re away from the office.

On mental health days, Francis recommends a one to four ratio to get things done and do enjoyable activities. Removing one thing from your to-do list will give you satisfaction and help you feel productive, but spending the rest of your day doing what you love will help you relax, she says.

“You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment for getting this thing off your list, but most of your day will be spent doing fun activities and refueling,” Francis says.

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