I don’t really like the phrase, “mental health day,” but the idea behind it is very important and relevant to every web worker. We all need time away from our work and businesses. Time to collect our thoughts, get some breathing room, and get away from the computer screen.
It may not seem important, but taking time away from our work has just as big an impact on our productivity as putting in a full day. It’s not just about the quantity of hours we devote to our jobs, but the quality. How much of the time that we’re spending on our work is going to be effective and productive if we never take time to get away from it?
We all need time off, so it’s important to make a conscious choice to include it in our to-do lists and schedules. But what do you do on “mental health days,” anyway? The main thing to remember is that your time away from your business needs to be restorative. It needs to help energize you and inspire you. It shouldn’t be filled with tasks that are as taxing and monotonous as work.
Here are a few ideas to help you improve your use of time off.
It Has to Be 100 Percent Work-free.
Free time has to be just that, free. Don’t spend your time on work-related tasks, even those that don’t really seem like work (thinking of the direction you want to take with your business, blogging, writing, reading blogs, etc.). No, this time should be spent on things that are the complete opposite of work. Avoid the office and computer altogether, so that there’s no temptation to do “just one little thing” that turns into several hours.
Fill the Day With Physical Activity.
Exercise and other physically demanding tasks are a good way to use free time. This type of activity gets your mind off all your regular demands, builds up your energy levels, and reduces your stress. Bike, hike, walk, dance or play a sport. It doesn’t matter what you choose. Just make sure it involves a lot of movement.
Plan Your Day Around a Meal.
Cook a meal from scratch. Bake cookies or desserts all afternoon with your kids, nieces and nephews, or a good friend. Cooking can be very therapeutic and relaxing. It takes all your attention and distracts you from workaday life.
Spend the Time With Friends and Family.
Web workers can feel particularly isolated at times, so it’s important to intentionally plan time for a social life. Go out for coffee with a friend (or better yet, invite them over for coffee and save some money). Go for a walk at a local park or recreation area. Throw a potluck and invite several friends or family members who you rarely get to see. Even just making time to call a relative can make you feel connected.
Your time away from work should be about having fun, relaxing and generating the energy you need to tackle your days. It’s not a guilty pleasure, but a necessity for staying productive and fully engaged in your business.
How do you spend your “mental health days”? Share your ideas for staying motivated and energized by taking time off.
Image from Flickr by epSos.de