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I am Looking Out for My Mental Health!

March 14, 2012

My whole life, my mother would surprise us with special days. For no apparent reason, she would take us out of school and we would go to the park or go get books at the library or go wander around Hematite Lake in LBL. When we got older it turned into shopping days or day trips to somewhere interesting. There was no reason for these days other than the weather was nice—or wasn’t—and that we needed a break.

When I became an adult and was working in the ICU, I was educated that the adult term for those days is a “mental health day”. You know that day when you just need a break from your life, when you need to mix things up a little bit?

Monday night, after I had blown up for spilling something in the floor and swore, not so much under my breath, while I was cleaning it up, I realized that maybe I was having an extreme reaction to a mildly irritating situation. I thought back over the last week and realized my frustration level with little things was reaching a tipping point. Not the least of one of those little things was Amelia spitting her medicine at me FOUR TIMES IN A ROW. But that is another story for another day.

I decided as I put the wet dishtowel in the laundry room on Monday night that I needed a break from life. I decided that Tuesday would be a mental health day. I slept like a baby Monday night just knowing it was coming.

Tuesday Morning, I got up at the almost regular time, got the kids fed and dressed, kissed my husband off to work, took my children off to daycare and then totally abandoned my routine for the rest of the day until it was time to pick the kids up. And what a beautiful day it was to play hooky! It was a beautiful day. It was a gorgeous spring day. It was magnificent. It was fabulous!

I took the dogs for a walk down by the Harpeth and was reminded that the river is a quarter mile from my house. Everything was turning green and starting to bud or bloom and the dogs were just happy to be out for a walk without trying to get somewhere.

Then I dragged (drug?) my kitchen table out on the patio and cut out all the pieces for Amelia’s birthday quilt. I ended up pulling the sewing machine out there and stitching almost the whole thing right there in the sunshine sipping on iced tea and listening to the birds chirping away and the songs on the random iPod playlist. And that is what I did. All Day.

Then I went and picked up my children. As I was picking them up, my lovely husband invited us out to dinner and I rounded out my day with a truly enjoyable dinner at Chuy’s (If you have not had a 2 year old at a restaurant for a while, you may not remember how hit or miss it can be with trying to get them to behave during a public meal).

I slept like a baby last night. I got up happy this morning. My daughter was not any happier with putting her clothes on this morning than she was any day last week, but it was easier. My son was not any easier to hold down while I fed him a bottle or wrestle his baby girth into his clothes this morning, but I was calmer. My closet held the same stuff, my shower wasn’t any longer or hotter, my breakfast was the same old protein shake, but I started my day so much better this morning and I know from experience that I will just generally have a better outlook on the world having taken a few hours for myself.

If there is one thing I have learned since I birthed that first child and went on about having a life, it is this: life is a whole lot better for everyone when I take care of myself. I get so busy doing the routine stuff—wiping dirty tushy, cleaning up after other people’s messes, preparing meals, doing laundry, going to work, meeting clients, pumping gas, getting up in the morning, going about my business that I forget that I need things, too. Sometimes what I need is a pedicure, sometimes I need a drink with a friend, sometimes I just need to go to the grocery ALL BY MYSELF! Sometimes I need to play hooky and satisfy my own whims.

I know that days like yesterday are a luxury. I know that not everyone has a place to leave their children or a job that they can step away from for the day. I know that everyone doesn’t have a supportive husband that encourages them to do whatever is needed to maintain personal balance. I am blessed to be able to have the occasional mental health day and I am a much happier woman because of it.

Are you feeling down in your life’s cycle? Don’t waste this exceptional spring by focusing on everyone else. Take it from the first rule of rescue: Don’t become part of the problem! Do you have the capacity to take a day for yourself? An lunch break? A naptime break? An hour? Treat yourself to a little springtime!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    March 14, 2012 5:20 pm

    Awesome. Respites are crucial. And I’m stealing your mom’s idea when the time comes. What a beautiful memory.

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