It’s hard to put your mental health first. Even if you’re trying to treat yourself with more kindness, even if you’re putting effort into becoming a healthier person, there are going to be obstacles in your way. Taking care of yourself isn’t going to come easy.
This world is so obsessed with the idea of success and productivity. If you call out of work–especially when you aren’t physically ill–a voice in the back of your head will call you lazy and unproductive. Bosses might even make you feel like you’re letting the company down. So many people in this world will make you feel guilty for resting, for taking a moment to yourself, even when you desperately need it. Even when you know you’re going to burn out without it.
In these moments, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about needing a mental health day. You should be proud of yourself for listening to your body, for knowing how much your mind can handle, and for deciding to do what is best for yourself. You should be excited that you’ve decided to put your own needs before the comfort of others. You should be thrilled that you’re finally putting yourself first.
Even though some people will assume you’re taking the easy road by taking a day off, this might actually be harder for you than sticking to your schedule. It’s hard to ignore the emails and texts that need to be answered. It’s hard to sit still when your mind is racing. It’s hard to say I deserve this time to myself. It’s hard to stop equating your worth with your level of productivity. But taking a break and resting can be productive, too.
Unfortunately, not everyone cares about mental health as much as they pretend. They might claim your mental health is important, then turn around and blame you when you cancel plans or turn down a social event. Some people are on board with you taking care of your mental health until it impacts them in any way. In theory, they want you to be okay, but in reality, they don’t want you to cause an inconvenience.
Of course, not everyone feels this way. There are people out there who genuinely want what’s best for you, people who couldn’t care less about doing a little extra so you can get some well-needed rest. And those are the people who matter the most. Those are the people who are really in your corner.
If you’ve been struggling to take care of your mental health, know that this isn’t your fault. It’s hard to put your needs first when the world is demanding so much from you. It’s hard to put your needs first when you feel guilty about any ‘selfish’ choice. It’s hard to put your needs first when pleasing others is easier.
You should be proud of yourself for trying to take care of your mental health when there are so many obstacles in your way. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished, even if you haven’t reached your next goalpost yet.