In Central Virginia, today is a snow day. SNOW. DAY. Those are two of the most magical words in the vocabulary of all mid-atlantic school kids and working adults. When there is a snow day, in this neck of the woods, people have good reason to break their routine for one day and settle in to a surprise day at home. I often hear scoffing that folks in this geographic region are weak for shutting down civilization for snow days. Sure, in the midwest and northeast, it’s routine in the winter to continue going about your business if it’s snowing heavily. But, seriously, where’s the fun in that?
Around here, a heavy snowfall is spectacle. We don’t have snow tires on our cars and slick waterproof coats and boots. Anticipating a real blizzard is half the fun, and waking up to find out that school is cancelled or the roads are too treacherous to get to work – that’s just the best. So don’t feel bad for us weaklings – we’re having the fun.
Today I’m safe and warm at home, with occasional electricity and a view of heavy snow flakes in all my windows – and I’m reveling in this surprise day off. I mean it’s basically a mental health day. If you haven’t taken one of those lately, I highly encourage it. Taking time off for mental health can be restorative, even if you only take off a partial day. The snow day forced me into taking a day off – the city of Charlottesville has officially designated the weather conditions today as a state of emergency. If I didn’t get this treat, would I have taken time off to rest? No. It’s a good reminder to schedule unscheduled days. Snow days are Treat. Yo. Self. Days.
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time really taking time off. Weekends fill up with errands, obligations, catching up with work and planning the next week. Planned vacation time off can be stressful when it’s too scheduled, even the fun stuff. Lately in particular, I feel like I haven’t been getting proper doses of quiet alone time to recharge my introvert batteries. So this snow day couldn’t have come at a better time. In order to not start crowding my mental health day with chores and responsibilities I set five ground rules:
1. No checking work email until after dinner.
2. Read, but only for pleasure (no textbooks).
3. No making to-do lists.
4. Only do what feels peaceful and restorative.
5. Enjoy the spectacle of snow by taking a walk.
It seems simple and obvious, doesn’t it? It turns out it’s easy to treat yo self. What do you do on snow days – do you set ground rules? How do you know when to take a day off for mental health?
Psst. Did you know that the World Health Organization promotes international Mental Health Day since 1992? This year, World Mental Health Day is October 10, 2013. World Health Day is designated to spread awareness about mental health issues, ranging from depression to chronic illness.