During my first year of teaching, I took the district up on its offer of a small perfect attendance bonus*–to the tune of $300.  I never missed a day, but I spent the entire ninth months nursing a nasty case of bronchitis.  

When things got stressful the next year, however, I gifted myself with a mental health day.   And even at $300, I realized I’d been completely robbed the year before and had sold some of my life to The Man for a very small return. Since then, I haven’t missed a year of taking at least one mental health day.

So here’s my challenge:  What if you took a day off earmarked strictly for rejuvenation?  What if you took a trip to a place where all you did was relax?  Or sat at home all day and read or listened to music?  Or spent the day hiking in the mountains or lounging at the beach?  Sure, it takes some planning, and there might even a bump or two in the continuity of your lesson plans, but I guarantee you will return to your classroom more relaxed, focused, and renewed than if you just tried to power through.  And the irony is that it will, without fail, improve the quality of your teaching.

Don’t believe me?  Try it.  

As teachers, we get a truckload of days off.  But many of those days off are around holidays where there is a ginormous uptick in our typical set of responsibilities and obligations.  And those stretches between holidays in November and March can be very long hauls.  So that’s typically when I say, “Enough!”  and I take a day just to feed my soul.  The fact that it feels somewhat subversive is just icing on the cake.

Sure, I got the perfect attendance bonus my first year.  But even if you said you were holding my family hostage, I would not be able to tell you what I did with that money. But many of my mental health days are distinctly pleasant memories. 

And no one can ever take that away from me.  TZT

* A year or two later, the perfect attendance bonus was a victim of budget cuts and is no longer an option, anyway.  So why not give yourself your own bonus?