Alexandria’s Adventure on a Mental Health Day

Mental Health Day
Unnamed Antarctic Expeditioners c 1929-1931 donated by the Estate of Capt John King Davis via State Library of Victoria

What with this and that (and the other) I found myself needing a mental health day; a day away from book writing and business podcasts and all that. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s when you aren’t physically ill but need a day off work to unwind and de-stress.

According to Brandon Smith, the workplace therapist, you need a mental health day when you are:

  1. not sleeping well or have insomnia.
  2. still stressed from last week
  3. cranky and too blunt with your friends, family and or colleagues
  4. disinterested and indifferent, and don’t care about your work

And while you might tell yourself that:

  1. you will miss out, or fall further behind
  2. you don’t need time off
  3. things won’t be properly if you aren’t there
  4. your career will suffer

you really should ignore these impulses because:

  1. you really won’t miss out because nothing significant happens in a day (unless you are in politics), and a break away (a good night’s sleep) is often just what you need for those flashes of inspiration that change the landscape
  2. stress is as infectious as the common cold and has serious long-term health implications
  3. properly schmoperly – maybe they will be done better! Or is that what you are really afraid of?
  4. flexible and creative people are more valued than those who are so burned out they can’t do more than follow established routines

So now you have decided to take a day off – what do you do?

  1. nap; for a long time
  2. relax, read a book, listen to music
  3. spend some quality time with friends and/or family
  4. if there are unfinished household jobs that are bugging you, get some done
  5. try not work, but if not working stresses you more, just do a little

After I decided not to run away to join the circus, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. In the old days when I left the house to work, I would have stayed home and watched soap operas and talk shows on tv. Sadly, when your home is your workplace, shutting your “office” door and camping out in front of the tv doesn’t hold quite the same appeal. I wanted to leave the house and go into town and mooch about looking in shop windows, maybe visit an art gallery, but the forecast was for thunderstorms with heavy falls, gusty winds, and hail. Not really keen to walk down to the train station and back again in that.

So in the end, I took off my activity tracker, made some hot chocolate, grabbed a couple of stale jam tarts and snuggled up with some Literature. Which put me to sleep quite nicely, despite the eloquence of the writing. The weather turned out to be not that bad, which was disappointing under the circumstances, but in its own way, this turned out to be a good thing.

In 2015, I had the weak intention of taking advantage of each adventure that presented themselves. And I mentioned in my 2016 planning, that I was retaining Pleasure with the elements of adventure and recharge as a core virtue for development. And it seems to me that Mental Health Days should be about prevention, not crisis management. There should be plans made and time set aside for adventure. Like when I was a child and I set off into the bush for a day of adventure armed only with a bottle of orange cordial, a ham sandwich wrapped up in greaseproof paper and a pointy stick.

Some time ago I watched Matt Cutts tiny TED talk (auto play), where he suggests you should try something new, just for 30 days. And thought, ah yes, quite interesting, maybe one day. But it occurs to me that this day might be the day to start. Let’s set a target of one adventure each month and see where it takes us. They are unlikely to be of the same epic scale as Mawson’s Antarctic Expedition, but they will be adventures for learners. Like taking a mental health day.

It’s not much, but I celebrated with a Mexicana burger washed down with some weird beer called Torpedo. Neither of which I have done before…

What do you think – are you on board? Tell me what adventure you would put on your list.

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