23 Oct Play Hooky!
Remember playing hooky as a kid? My parents were great about letting us take a ‘mental health day’ every so often. We couldn’t take advantage of it, but they could often tell when we were burnt out or dealing with something difficult, and really needed a break. And just that day was enough to get us back on track, and recharge our batteries. I think it was a good lesson for us, that you can step away from a problem for a bit – to gain perspective or get a breather – but you can’t escape it entirely. You have to face it eventually, and having a day to reflect and recharge really helps.
As adults, we hardly ever take mental health days or play hooky from work, other obligations, or life in general. In fact, Americans are known to not use their vacation days out of fear: of work piling up, of someone else taking the glory, or even of being fired. It’s ridiculous! Nowhere else in the world does this happen. People should be encouraged to take their vacation days so they can come back to work refreshed and focused. This is why I use up all of my paid vacation days each year. There are times I’m so booked between work and my social obligations, that I long for a day where I just sit around in my pjs and read or catch up on movies. In fact, I need one of these days every few months or I completely burn out.
It got me to thinking about my clients, and their very hectic schedules. I joked with one of my clients that she could not take on one more commitment, and I would write her a note to excuse her from it. We both had a good laugh! But it made me realize how much we tend to take on, and how little we say ‘no’ to. Think of it this way, when you say ‘no’ to one thing, it allows the ability to say ‘yes’ to another. And that ‘yes’ may be just the thing you need or have been looking for (but this is another post entirely).
I’ve started advising my clients to say ‘no’ more often, and to take a mental health day from their ‘to do’ list (Professional Organizers orders!). In fact, I’ve urged my clients who are mothers to take mental health days with their kids.
Try it out: one day each month (or maybe each quarter/season) have nothing planned; no obligations to be held accountable for. Let the day surprise you as you go along. I know this can be tricky when you have a family (or if you’re ‘Type A’ like me), but teaching your kids to go with the flow will also do them a world of good. If you need it, I’d be happy write you an excuse note.