When I was in the sixth grade, my mom allowed me to play hooky from middle school and skip my sure-to-be riveting day of learning to go to the grand opening of H&M at our local mall. That was the most exhilarating day of recharging retail therapy my 11-year-old self could imagine.
Playing hooky doesn’t need to stop when you’re an adult. It’s incredibly important to take full advantage of your PTO by taking a personal mental health day from work once in awhile to relax and recharge. A recent study of 7,500 full-time employees found that 67 percent of employees have reported feeling burned out at work at least once, and women are at greater risk than are men of feeling burned out. Chronic stress and burnout can cause your work to suffer, so take a day to prioritize self-care and regain your energy.
The most important part of playing hooky—leave work at work. No emails, no texts, no calls.
Here are 14 activities to do when you’re playing hooky
1. Catch up on sleep
Don’t feel guilty for catching up on your zzz s—stress at work can cause your sleep schedule to seriously suffer. More hours of sleep will sharpen your brain, improve your mood, and keep your heart healthy.
2. Cook an elaborate meal
Dust off and crack open that old cookbook you never use or head on over to a popular foodie site to draw some inspiration for an elaborate, delicious meal you’d otherwise not have the time to make. Cheesy spaetzle with caramelized onions and crispy shallots, anyone?
3. Read a good book cover to cover
Get lost in a bookstore and pick up a new novel. What better way to recharge your brain than escaping into a fictional world?
4. Take a quick day trip
You don’t have to fly across the country to have an adventure. Pack your backpack and hike the closest mountain, go kayaking in the next town over, or drive the two hours to try that breakfast burrito everyone’s buzzing about.
5. Take a long walk
Get moving! We should all aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Listen to a new podcast while strengthening your muscles, improving your mood, and building balance and coordination. You won’t be able to enjoy the outdoors tomorrow when you’re back in the office.
6. Get a massage
Your day of playing hooky is the perfect time to treat yourself to a well-deserved massage or facial. Head over to the spa and let go of all your pent-up stress from dealing with difficult coworkers in the workplace.
7. Be a tourist in your hometown
Skip the redeye and tour your own city. Go to your local visitor’s center and browse the brochures until you find the perfect activity. Explore a new neighborhood, hike to a viewpoint, roam a museum, take an historic tour, or sign up for a restaurant crawl.
8. Binge a new show
Dive into your favorite pint of ice cream, get cozy in your pajamas, and veg out on the TV. Watch that movie that’s been on your queue forever (*cough*, that classic movie that always gets quoted) or start that show everyone’s been talking about at work.
9. Pack a picnic
Glass of champagne and a wheel of brie for one, please. Gather your favorite snacks, a magazine, and take a walk to your favorite park. Put your phone on silent and give your eyes a break from the blue light and enjoy the sunlight.
10. Tackle a puzzle
Exercise your brain and mental agility with a puzzle. Who knows, maybe those problem-solving skills will translate into your workload tomorrow.
11. Watch the sun set
Enjoy the weather, sip a margarita (or two), and soak in the fading colors of the sunset. You’re not stuck in the office anymore, honey—take advantage.
12. Make art
Sketch, watercolor, collage, write, sing, take photographs, dance, fill in a coloring book, or even create a vision board. Whatever gets your creative juices flowing, do it. Creativity breeds success and productivity.
Meditating can decrease your anxiety, expand your consciousness, and improve your emotional stability. Take a deep breath and let your thoughts flow freely.
14. Rearrange your furniture
It’s nice to rearrange your home layout and switch up your routine every once in awhile. Purge the clutter and reorganize your furniture into an arrangement that boosts your creativity. Colors have been proven to have a great effect on our mood, so play around with your color schemes.