“Remember to look through the windshield and not the rearview mirror, because you’ve already been there.” – Leah Shaver
Today I took a day off for ME. Not for a sick child, not for a school function, not for doctor’s appointments, not for family obligations, not for travel. Just for me.
When was the last time you took a day just for yourself?
Let me guess. At least ¾ of you just read that and snorted slightly, and thought “I don’t have time.” Or “I can’t afford it.” Or “Yeah, right, I wish.” Yup, I used to think that too. Until a few years ago, when actually it was my husband who encouraged me to take my first “Mental Health” day. Don’t let him know I said this, but he was right. I was surprised how much I needed it, and how peaceful and helpful it was. Since then I have taken a few days, or half days, each year as Me Days.
Now, today was an unusual, extra special Me Day. Thanks to the generosity of a friend with a gift certificate, and a birthday check from my father, I spent close to 4 hours in a nearby Day Spa. I had a wonderful woman give me a massage that worked out kinks in my back I didn’t even know I had. I had a mani and pedi, and even a haircut. It was all a slice of heaven. BUT – generally speaking, my Me Days are much more simple and affordable than this. Depending on weather, I have spent Me Days with a packed lunch, a blanket, a good book or a journal and hung out by a local pond. Or roamed around the gardens in a park. Or gone for a long bike ride. Or just wandered through a mall, window shopping, at my own pace, going in stores only I feel like checking out.
Everyone’s idea of a Me Day of course is different. Over time, I have developed a few simple rules for my Mental Health Days. Again, this is just me, but they work well:
- Put my phone on silent. I will check it off and on to make sure no emergencies have popped up, but with it set on silent I am not feeling compelled to check work alerts, emails, phone calls, etc. until I feel like it. Even better if I can leave the phone in the car.
- No Beat the Clock. A hard and fast rule, I refuse to play “beat the clock” on my Me Days. My only time deadline is when I need to be back home at the end of the day. Otherwise, no rushing, no deadlines, no “I have to be there by….”
- I don’t go home. Some people are great at being able to just relax and hang out at home. Not me. If I’m home, I’m going to do chores. And chores are NOT allowed on Me Days.
- Be alone. Sure, there is a definite joy in meeting a friend for lunch, or having a good phone conversation with someone. But for the most part, Me Days are just me. I rarely have any time alone, and I begin to crave it. These days allow for a reconnection with me, myself and I.
- Empty the negative details. The peace and quiet of a Me Day can be a good time to work through some challenges or issues you’ve been dealing with. But I make sure that I keep the heavy brain work to a minimum. More importantly, I empty out all the yuck and the stress and the negativity. I breathe deeply, and I think about how lucky I am, and about all the things I am grateful for…and sometimes, I just zone out and watch ducks swim on a pond. It is that simple, and that lovely.
So let me ask my question again: When was the last time you took a day for yourself? Isn’t it about time?