One of the privileges of working for oneself is the ability to take a mental health day when needed. However, for many of us, taking a full eight hours off of work to focus on our well-being is a luxury that isn’t available. So what does one do when they are at the end of their proverbial rope and just can’t?!
With or without sick days, here are a few rituals I practice when the storm inside my brain is raging.
1) Stop and breathe
This is one of the simplest things to do that’s also, at least for me, often one of the most difficult. When I’m in panic mode, I’ve found it’s best to pause and be still. If I find a quiet corner of the studio and focus on even breaths, typically I am calmer and have a clearer head.
2) Take a walk
When sitting and breath control isn’t enough, I walk. Or, in reality, I pace—taking laps around the office, without any purpose or destination, just to move my body. If I’m feeling particularly “stormy,” I’ll climb stairs or do a lap around the parking lot. Often a change in temperature will shake these feelings loose.
3) Give your body fuel
I’ve lived long enough with my mental illness to know when things will go from “manageable” to “NOPE.” At times, I can stave off some of the feelings of chaos by staying hydrated and eating something healthy (or, let’s be honest, chocolate or some chips). Knowing that I stress eat, I do my best to start with water and go from there.
One does not have to lie prone or in the lotus position to meditate. From what I’ve learned, meditation is to be fully in the moment. Lately, I’ve found meditation in painting and drawing. I’ve been known to escape to my car for 10 minutes to listen to really, really loud rap as a form of meditation. On a recent trip to L.A., I purchased a singing bowl that I use on occasion to mark the beginning and end of daily rituals like a long session of writing or designing. I’ve found it helps me pause for a moment of gratitude and celebrate the small daily accomplishments that deserve notice.
5) Have a good cry
Sometimes, it just feels flat-out fantastic to cry. It’s catharsis, in one of its purest forms.
When all else fails, I take a nap. I’ve learned that oftentimes a problem is not nearly as big, the task not nearly as scary or overwhelming as it appears to be when I am tired. As much as I would LOVE to take an hour off to sleep, often 10-15 minutes of shuteye on the couch (our Sixpenny sofa is my go-to spot) is what I need to get going again.
How do you weather the storm?
Are you able to take a legit mental health day from work? If so, I invite you to join us at our Minneapolis studio on Tuesday, August 13th for the first of (hopefully) many open studio Mental Health Days. We aren’t going to sell anything, you don’t have to purchase tickets, we aren’t going to make you share on social. Bring your laptop, bring a book, bring a friend, or bring nothing at all—it’s totally up to you how you’d like to use the time. Our space (and couches) will be available for you to relax and escape the world for a bit.
If you are planning on joining us, we do request an RSVP, only so we have a better understanding of how much coffee and water to have on hand. Sustenance, folks. Sustenance and hydration. It’s the stuff of life, and of a good mental health day.
We hope to see you there!
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dog. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.