I had a totally different topic planned for this week, but I woke up Monday morning with my anxiety scrambling my brain. Instead, we’re going to talk about how to handle a mid-week mental health day, because I like to make sure I’m sharing a balanced view of what running my business looks like.
I’m very into productivity and systems and being efficient, but I also have days when I wake up, feel my anxiety is too strong to fight with, and have to spend hours (or my entire day) focused on that instead.
This can easily lead to feeling like I’m falling behind or guilty for not sticking to my schedule.
This week on the podcast I want to walk you through what self-care looks like for me on a day like that to give you more mental healthcare tools. Also, to provide a little solidarity if you have mental health challenges or are just stressed to the max by life right now.
Links + Resources
Welcome to episode 99. Today we are going to talk about mental health.
This episode was going to be on a different topic, but last Monday I woke up and I could feel my brain was not going to cooperate. My anxiety showed up, my brain was spinning, and I knew I was gonna spend at least the first part of my day in self-care mode. I was bummed because I wanted to start this week with a bang and be really productive and get a lot done because we’ve got some fun stuff coming up in Dare to Grow. That was very obviously not going to happen.
We had a chat about mental health the next day on our Dare to Grow coaching call, so I wanted to share more about my experience in a full podcast episode.
I like to make sure I’m sharing a balanced view of what running my business looks like. I’m very into productivity and systems and being efficient so I’m not stressed by my job in general and I do share a lot of that, but I also have days when I get out of bed, walk the dog, feel my anxiety is too strong to fight with and have to lay on the couch for hours before I can get going.
I want to walk you through what that self-care looks like for me on a day like that. Both to give you some ideas if you want them, but also to provide a little solidarity if you also have mental health challenges or are just stressed to the max by life right now.
Even if you don’t have a mental health diagnosis you still deserve some mental healthcare and can take mental health days.
Let’s talk through how a shitty mental health day goes for me sometimes: On this particular day I woke up, I could feel my anxiety immediately, I can’t quite catch my thoughts, and I kinda want to cry for no reason.
The first thing I remind myself is that this feeling is temporary and I know I’ll feel better soon or at some point. That helps me focus on what’s happening in my body and less on the source of the problem because no matter where it’s coming from you can still calm yourself from the inside without fixing what’s causing it, especially if the cause is out of your control.
Second, I remind myself that everything is not a priority. When I wake up on a Monday and feel like garbage, my first thought is that I won’t get my work done. Not from guilt but really wanting to put time into some projects. I ask myself what’s the most important task and it’s ok if there isn’t one. If everything can be moved into the next day or next week then maybe I just take a mental health day and let myself off the hook. That’s ok, even on a Monday.
If there are things I need to get done then I make a list of just those things, put them in priority order – and when I say list, I mean 3 things. Really be serious about what needs to happen today. It may mean that something doesn’t get done, someone is disappointed, someone has to wait. They will survive.
As a precaution, I keep my schedule chill – like, 3 main tasks/day. (For example, my main task for today is writing 3 podcast episodes.) We talked about this on a previous episode and Ashley Hogrebe, who creates systems for neurodivergent business owners, said she always keeps Fridays free for this exact purpose. If her mental health takes up time unexpectedly she isn’t cramming everything into next week because she has a buffer there already.
After I give myself those reminders and relieve myself of any guilt or stress around what I’m not going to get done, then I try to get myself moving.
Having a dog helps A LOT. We go outside three times/day, every single day whether I want to or not. (We live in an apartment so there’s no backyard.) Sometimes, when I don’t want to get moving I focus on Hazel’s needs instead of myself because I’m more likely to do things for her when I’m not feeling well. If it was just me there would be no walks on this type of day and I would stay in bed until I got too hungry or had to pee. I won’t do that to Hazel so I get my ass up for her and I benefit too.
On this day we went for a walk, then I made sure to eat a good breakfast to check off the basic life stuff which when you have mental health issues can easily get forgotten.
Then, to keep myself upright and moving I cleaned the kitchen and unloaded the dishwasher. That is one of my productivity hacks too – loading the dishwasher or even laundry or vacuuming – it’s an easy task, I don’t have to think about what I’m doing, I feel accomplished when I’m done.
A workout is a good alternative, but I rarely have the bandwidth to even put on workout gear when I’m dealing with anxiety, so cleaning is my jam. That’s what helps refocus my brain and gives me a jumpstart.
On days like this, I also make extra effort to stay off social media. I won’t check any platforms, because seeing other people crushing their day, talking about being productive, or launching things doesn’t help and gives me more anxiety. I skip social media entirely – all the comments and DM’s and everything I need to do will be there tomorrow.
This particular week I was close to finishing my podcast episode but also close to running out of time to submit it to my editor, so I decided to give myself a break. Instead of forcing myself to finish, I skipped a week. If you listen to the podcast regularly then you probably notice that I skip a week here or there. Mostly it’s because my mental health got in the way or I had too much on my plate and I didn’t want to stress. Clients will be ok if you have to move their call, customers will be ok if they have to wait an extra day for their purchase. Yes, doing what I say I’m going to do is very important to me and I will show up 99% of the time, but when that 1% happens, I’m going to believe the best in people and that if I need a day or two off no one will be devastated. Saying you’re having a mental health day is ok – especially right now – you’re not the only one.
After the dishwasher, I actually had a little energy and cleaned the rest of the kitchen. Then I ended up on the couch under a blanket. I didn’t have anything super important due the next day, so I decided to check off a few tasks that felt easy – boring admin stuff that I can watch tv and do at the same time is perfect for this. I always end up doing bookkeeping these days because it’s boring and chill. I don’t have to be creative or communicate with anyone.
On this particular day, I ended up getting a sample of the mugs I’ve been working on. If you missed the launch on Monday, I’ve created sweary affirmations mugs. They say things like “I’m a bad bitch taking brave action every day” and “I’m cute, smart, and confident as fuck.” Every time you sip your tea or coffee throughout the day you can read that affirmation to yourself and the more you repeat those things, the more your body believes it. You can see them all at xosarah.com/shop.
Once I had that sample I got cozy on the couch and worked on setting up the Etsy shop and finishing the other mug designs. I think I was watching Love is Blind the whole time. Even though I only worked from 3pm to 7pm I got a little work done, felt productive, and the day ended up feeling like a success. Versus when I woke up in the morning ready to cry and feeling like I couldn’t catch my thoughts.
Like I said, it doesn’t always go that way and I prepare myself mentally and with my schedule to accommodate for that. I know it’s gonna happen sometimes and I won’t get anything done, but when I focus on the basics and just getting the most, most, most important thing done I feel less like it’s a disruption to my business and more like I can be a Boss and still stop to care for myself. That doesn’t discount my expertise or my ability to grow.
I wish we didn’t need podcasts like this to say mental health challenges are okay and worth talking about and accommodating but we do so I’m always happy to share my experiences with you.
If you ever have questions about this kind of thing you can always DM me on Instagram. I’m on meds and in therapy and that stuff isn’t always easy so if you need support feel free to reach out. There are also mental health resources inside Dare to Grow and on my websites resources page – xosarah.com/resources
Alright, that’s all for this week. Next week is episode 100 so look out for some fun stuff to go along with that over on Instagram – you can find me @xosarahmorgan.
Thanks for hanging out with me – I’ll talk to you again next week.