Photo by Madison Lavern via Unsplash

I woke up this morning shortly before I usually do to prepare for work. However, I could not move. It was as if my body laid claim to my bed and demanded to stay put. Any other day, I’d peel myself away from the comfort of a pillow-top mattress and will myself to get up and get going, but today . . . today, I listened to my body and succumbed to a day of rest. The tears lined themselves up accordingly right behind my eyes. I could feel it — it would be a day of dealing with extreme emotions — work would have to wait.

I’d felt off-kilter this past weekend leading into this week, and I ignored it. This was probably not the best thing to do given my current circumstance, but a day off is in play. I communicated with our center manager the need for a mental health day and received a prompt response regarding it and its approval. I want to save as much energy as I can for the days, weeks, and months ahead. I have a few writing projects coming up that will require research and getting into character to pull off these works.

Of late, I am drained both physically and mentally and after yesterday’s minor run-in with a patient who wanted to do what he wanted to do, but found out quickly — we follow the recommendations and guidelines issued to us and our entire medical organization, I am zapped. It takes so much out of me to get through an eight to sometimes ten-hour workday, adding privileged and irresponsible people to the mix regularly, is too much.

How kind are we to our minds, to our bodies when we need to be? Do we give ourselves the time off we need or are we pushing through, trying to get past the pull of a crying body and an aching mind?

When you feel like your stress levels have reached their peak, it might be time to take a quick break to reset. 

— Elizabeth Scott, MS

I reserved a “mental health day“ to do exactly this — reset. Recharge. Regain some semblance of myself before taking on the world of screening and surveying patients for Coronavirus, COVID-19 symptoms again. I could feel myself fading, unraveling — if I’m being honest and I had to put a stop to it. I still need to get through the rest of this week.

The pressures of work and everyday life, especially now during a pandemic, are weighing heavily on me and I struggle a little more to stay afloat. It is important for me to recognize when I need to take a step back, re-center and refocus and do so in a safe, familiar, and comfortable environment. This morning, I walked my dog a little longer, and we switched paths. I listened, truly listened to the birdsong and cars passing by. There is something rhythmic and calming about my environment’s subtle noises — something slightly motivating as well.

I ate my breakfast and savored every bite. I sipped my coffee and allowed the flavor of it to dance on my tongue. I embraced its warmth and settled into the overcoming feeling of comfort it brings. I didn’t have to rush — there was nowhere to go. I allowed the morning, in its early stages, to connect with me without feeling the need to brush quickly by it just to get to a place that pulls every ounce of energy out of me.

Problems can seem harder to deal with when they seem close, overwhelming, and inescapable. Taking a mental break from work and spending some time on self-care can sometimes give you the mini-break you need to head back into things with a clear head. 

— Elizabeth Scott, MS

I have no plans for the day. I will rest as much as I can and whatever comes my way that is both workable and sensible, I may allow it to take up residence on my itinerary. I may not. It all depends on how much energy I have to handle it.

I am giving myself this day. I need it. And truth be told, it is long overdue.