Do you use your Personal Days at work? Everyone deserves a day off every now and then. As a teacher, my job involves a lot of highs and lows. The happy moments at my job make me feel like I’m thriving and making a positive impact on others. On the other hand, the low points at my job can make me feel frustrated and numb. I am a pretty happy person (because I choose to be), but nothing is perfect. I work really hard to ensure my students are learning and succeeding in my classroom. Teaching is like no other job I’ve ever experienced, and sometimes, you just need a time-out.
With that said, once or twice in the 10 month school year, I like to plan a personal day that I call a Mental Health Day. Many people do this at most jobs at the drop of a hat (i.e. “just call in sick”), but in my profession, it requires a few days of planning ahead to make it a smooth process. For starters, I have to preplan my lessons and leave everything ready to go for the substitute. Secondly, I have to find a trustworthy substitute who can cover my classes and ensure that the students complete their work. If I can plan everything in advance like this, my Mental Health Day has very little room for work anxiety. I care about my students and want them to feel busy and productive during my short absence.
Side Note: Working in education, we are lucky enough to get Snow Days every now and then(!!!), so I usually just use the Snow Day as my Mental Health Day. Otherwise, I’m all about using my 1-2 Personal Days in the Fall and Spring.
The few Mental Health Days that I’ve taken over the last 3 years have always left me feeling refreshed and ready to return to the daily grind. Since I relish these few days in the year, I’m going to share my Winter Mental Health Day suggestions for Nashville, a city that offers so many fun options for a day-off!
A few days beforehand…
Monitor your stress level and see how you feel. Put it on the calendar.
If you feel like you need to take a step back to regroup, plan to take a Personal Day if your schedule allows it. If it’s a crazy week, plan one for next week. Either way, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Even planning it a month out can help you float through the days of work. Like a vacation, it’s something to look forward to! Be sure to have everything setup for the person who is covering for you. If you have small children, call a sitter.
Depending on your needs, plan out your day OR plan absolutely nothing.
For my Mental Health Day, I like to maintain a balance of planned activities, downtime, and productive work time. Yes, you read that right. I usually end up doing some work for my job on my Personal Day. I like to have my lesson plans completely ready the day before I teach, as most teachers do. Usually, I’ll plan a lesson in 10-15 minutes or less. I’ve gotten really good at managing my time. Once it’s planned, I feel prepared and relieved. As for fun plans on my day-off, I like to decide on a physical activity, a lunch date with a friend or my husband, exploring a new-to-me part of Nashville, or an errand.
The day of…
In the morning…
Be indulgent! Sleep in (if you like) and fill your home with the delicious scent of coffee as it brews. Try Trader Joe’s Wintry Blend , a ground coffee sprinkled with spices like red peppercorns and fresh cloves. Enjoy your coffee slowly while you catch up on whatever show you missed last week. My guilty pleasures are The Bachelor and Total Divas. Stay in your pajamas for an hour and enjoy the art of slow living. This is a true departure from your typical work day, so savor the quiet and hold onto this moment for when you’ll need it later.
Wake up a bit later than you usually do and wear the comfiest athleisure you own. Treat yourself to some herbal tea and a Larabar as you drive over to a boutique workout class. Drop-in rates for barre classes and yoga classes are quite affordable in Nashville. Try something new or drive to your gym and do your usual workout or stay for a longer workout. Post-workout, bring a change of clothes with you and get ready at the gym for your day-off. Head over to your favorite coffee shop and treat yourself to a latté and oatmeal, breakfast plate, or pastry. Eat it slowly and observe what’s going on around you. Stay off your phone and cherish this time-off. If you choose this option, see below for my café suggestions.
My favorite cafés in the wintertime are sorted by location:
–West End Area: Atmalogy, an Anthropology-inspired, quiet coffee house with small rooms filled with eclectic furniture. Order the Dreamy Avocado Toast and the Golden Milk, a hot drink with steamed milk, turmeric, and local honey. If you want to get some work done while you’re here, they have work tables for your laptop.
–East Nashville: Cafe Roze, a millenial pink and white cafe with the most adorable neon pink signage. It’s tucked away in East Nashville and can be really quiet on weekdays. Indulge in the Roze Latté, a coffee drink with rose petals, cardamom, and cinnamon. As for something to nibble on for breakfast, try the Coconut Yogurt with granola and berries.
–12 South/Green Hills: The Well, a cozy, cabin-like coffee house with singer-songwriter music playing in the background. It’s located near Lipscomb University’s campus. I have had a few heart-to-hearts with a dear friend who went to Lipscomb and we would sit at the window bar and sip our drinks. I love their Apple Cider and the Cabin Fever, a coffee drink with honey bush vanilla, milk, and gingerbread syrup.
–Germantown: Barista Parlor, an airy, industrial-style café with gorgeous pour-over coffee equipment on display. They have a garage door that they keep open in the summer and fall that captures the breeze. It just feels light and open. I feel so relaxed when I’m here. They serve homemade poptarts (!!!) and a delicious iced Chai Tea Latté.
In the afternoon…
If you just finished your slow breakfast at home, get dressed and head out to your lunch date with your friend or partner. My husband Charlie and I like to meet up in Brentwood where he works. We like to indulge at an upscale restaurant like Mere Bulles because it’s usually less expensive for lunch than dinner. It looks like a southern plantation-style home with several rooms and artwork. He likes the Crab Bisque and I go for the veggie plate. It’s a special treat for once in a while. After lunch, run an errand that you’ve been putting off or go to that much-needed doctor’s appointment. It’ll feel productive and satisfying to check that off your list. I always get my oil changed on my personal day.
If you’ve already done your workout of the day and finished up your meal at the coffee house of your choice, go home and have a little spa day. Remove your makeup and apply a sheet mask (try this Rose mask) to your face. Put on one of your favorite movies (mine are Lost In Translation, Amelie, American Beauty, and Spirited Away). As the movie plays, paint your nails with this shimmery slate gray Essie polish.
Read that book or magazine that has been collecting dust on your nightstand. If not now, when? I’m currently enjoying As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark. Seize this opportunity to let your mind relax and immerse yourself in the characters and time period of your book. Brew some Rooibos tea and dive into your book!
If you’ve stayed home all day and feel cabin fever, go to a trivia night. Every Tuesday at 7:30 pm, I go to Nama Sushi and test my knowledge with my husband and friends. Eat before you go or order a roll of half-priced sushi. This event breaks up the work week and always guarantees entertainment. Here is a suggested list for trivia night in Nashville.
If you’ve been out all day running errands or shopping, make a recipe that you’ve always wanted to make. Since today is a Snow Day for me, I’m finally getting around to making a Whole 30 Creamy Tomato Soup that I’ve been wanting to try. Savor your new dish and relish in how relaxed you feel.
I hope you enjoyed my Winter Guide for a Mental Health Day in Nashville. So, tell me: do you use your Personal Days? Do you use them for Mental Health Days? If so, how do you spend your time-off? Comment below!