One of the best ideas I ever heard that I hadn’t previously understood was the concept of a “mental health” day. You’re not sick (no cold, flu, etc.) and you don’t have personal plans (vacation, child’s field trip, etc.) — you just need a day to unwind and escape. To me, this is a must in any humans life — young or old, man or woman, in school/working or not. Life is hard, people. You need a break for your sanity sometimes.

Unfortunately it’s not always possible to escape for a day, week, month, whatever you want. Sometimes you just need ideas for mental health escapes that don’t completely disrupt an already busy life. I want to share some of my ideas below. Let me know your thoughts and share your own in the comments!

During the Work Day

  • Sit in nature. The featured image in this post is of me in the back area of our office building. It’s up against a hill side so it has a lot of foliage, and it’s a nice peaceful area to sit and relax. Provided there aren’t a ton of smokers out there at the time. 😉
  • Get away from your desk. I work right near Portland State University, which sits along the park blocks in downtown Portland. I can walk as long as I want, people watch, sit down and rest, or grab a bite to eat easily.

At Home

  • Make your bathroom a haven. I’m still working on this, but making your bathroom a nice place to be makes those “escapes” a little more bearable. Put a candle, fuzzy carpet, holiday lights, pretty artwork, etc. in there so if you “need a minute,” you can relax in a makeshift oasis. And it doesn’t hurt when you actually need to go to the bathroom either. 🙂
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood. Try to do this with the intent of finding something new. Focusing on another objective besides what’s upsetting you can help shift your mood. By doing this, I’ve found little book libraries, chickens you can feed in neighbors’ yards, and more.

While Commuting

  • Listen to guided meditation. Whether you’re driving or using public transportation, you’re a captive audience wherever you are. Why not use that time to guide your brain through something calming. At the beginning of your day or at the end of your day, it’s helpful for your mind. Check out my podcast recommendations for other great escapes.
  • Play predictability games. Again, whether you’re driving or using public transportation, you can always guess others’ behavior. Take yourself out of your mind by predicting where that man may sit on the bus. Will he take the first seat available, or squeeze into the back? What about that light? Will four cars make it through, or five? It’s not rocket science, but it does shift your thinking from whatever’s got you stressing.

At School

  • Find a secret hideaway. When I was in college, one of my favorite things to do was to go to this secret study place I and a few others knew about, sit there with a coffee, and relax. It was a few stories up and surrounded by windows, but nobody could really see you up there, so it felt hidden and secure and quiet. Find a place like that for you. Where you feel like your bubble is secure and contemplative.