There are days when you wake up and the clouds are heavy, even if they don’t exist outside your window. They press thick and leaden over you, creating a fog that makes it hard to navigate through the day. Some are darker than others, and you know their rain will fall the hardest, it’s only a matter of when.
If you are one of many who lives each day fighting for daybreak, a parting of those clouds, then you know the path to healing isn’t linear. There will be days when what feels like one step in the right direction is actually two steps retreating. There will be days when the clouds part and light shines through, and days when the sun feels as though it has disappeared for good.
What to do on days when the sun has retreated? When you wake up and the clouds are at their heaviest? How can one be expected to bear the storm alone?
You don’t have to.
Understanding what makes a “bad” day bad
Everyone has days that drag a little longer than the last, or days when the spilled milk is quite literally the reason you are crying. It makes it a little difficult to discern the bad days from bad mental health days. The line can be blurry, but a bad day is one that mostly consists of outside forces working against you. Spilled milk, stuck in traffic, late to work, which then leads you to being reprimanded by your boss, behind on emails, and unmotivated to touch the pile of files on your desk.
A bad mental health day is one where the forces working against you are predominantly in your head. Remember those storm clouds? Just because the problems are inward doesn’t make them any less valid than the regular bad days.
What you can do
Taking sick days for physical reasons–the ‘outward’ bad days–is common, but taking one for a mental health day isn’t always as easy to justify to one’s boss. Mental health is slowly starting to be taken more and more seriously, but it’s still a gray area in the workplace. If your boss is against the idea of taking a day for anything other than the flu, use one of those sick days. Stay away from the office, and–just like you’d treat any sick day–do the things that make you feel better.
Whether it’s a fun activity, like going outdoors or reading or completing that unfinished puzzle that’s been staring at you from your living room table for a week now. Maybe try catching up on things that have been slowly eating away at you, like deep-cleaning the bathroom or organizing the pantry.
Don’t feel guilty for indulging yourself on these days. Maybe it isn’t a great idea to listen to your head on a bad mental health day, but listen to your body. Give it what it needs, guilt-free.
Take care of you, so that those rain clouds can ease up a bit. If you feel up to it, pick up the phone and call someone you love, or meet up with a friend for dinner. Allow someone to acknowledge the clouds over your head and share the thunder.