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Stress: It’s Not About the Oatmeal

relaxed man reading a book on a sofaMy local supermarket had recently gone through a remodel, which included moving certain sections of the store to different locations. While this shouldn’t have been a big deal, on this particular day, it was my catalyst to a meltdown. I was certain the supermarket moved the oatmeal to a secret hidden location just to upset me. It was all too much to handle.

It was only after crying in my car for 30 minutes that I realized — it wasn’t about the oatmeal. These tears were the tears of stress that had been piling on for months. I wasn’t satisfied with my full-time job. My cat was sick. The car was making that weird noise again. The laundry was piling up.

It was about the stress and anxiety I was pushing under the rug in hopes that it would go away. But, as we all know, chronic stress and anxiety rarely just “go away” on their own.

That weekend, I took a much-needed “mental health holiday.” Taking a mental health holiday can help reduce stress, avoid future burnout, give you a renewed sense of purpose, and help you refocus on what’s important. Here are some helpful tips on planning a mental health holiday:

  • Schedule – We can’t always predict when stress and anxiety are going to get the best of us. When you realize that a mental health holiday is in order, communicate your needs with others. Ask your friends and family if they can help you with certain tasks, and talk to your boss about taking a mental health day if possible. If you can’t carve out a day or weekend, try to find a few hours that you can relax and focus on yourself.
  • Unplug – While cell phones, laptops, and other technology can be beneficial, they can also be a source of stress and anxiety. If you can, turn off these devices during your mental health holiday. If you need to be reachable during a specific time, try deleting certain applications from your phone that you may need a break from.
  • Action – Now that you have your time scheduled and you’re unplugged, it’s time to decide what you’re going to do during your mental health holiday. First, reflect on what you most need. Maybe a day of catching up on sleep and relaxing with a good book in your favorite armchair is in order. If you need a day away from your norm, perhaps a small trip to a nearby park or fun destination would help. Make sure you tailor your mental health holiday for YOU and YOUR current needs.

Taking a much-needed mental health holiday could be exactly what you need to beat the stress and refocus on what’s most important. If you find that you’re struggling with stress after your holiday, or that you’re getting stressed more than normal, make sure you seek out the guidance of your medical team.

Ashley Fizer
Retreat Director

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