Veg Days are a crucial survival tool for me. A Veg Day is my way of coping with the inordinate stress of life, specifically the stress that no one else seems to experience; running out of energy (or mana as I call it). I use up a lot of mana in my daily life, and it is difficult to replace. A Veg Day is a process that has taken me years to develop and refine.
It all started sometime in college. I was supremely busy in college. I know everyone says that, but I really was. I went to school full time, supported myself by working 2 (sometimes 3) jobs, and ran a non-profit corporation for almost 2 years. I also had a very severe coffee addiction (I still do). I loved being able to do so many things at once, so I had a great time even though I was busy for about 16 hours every.
After a few months, it started to catch up with me. I couldn’t sleep, even when I had the free time to do so. I stopped having fun, I stopped caring about things. I started getting so angry with everyone and I lost many friends in a few weeks. I finally cracked one day, and got really sick. I couldn’t do anything, so I had to lay around the house. I felt the entire time like death was hovering over me, waiting to take me away. But, I had to sleep and take a few days off.
I went back to life after that and noticed that I felt so much better. I had so much more energy, and I was so happy. It lasted for a few weeks, and then I started to feel the same miserable way I had before. I got sick again, and then spent a few days hiding away from the world. I emerged from my darkened room feeling like a beautiful butterfly again.
It took me about a year of this pattern before I finally noticed the connection. Somehow, it eluded me, but eventually I noticed the connection between taking some time off and feeling better. I did the same thing I always do, I made it into an experiment. I tried to take a ‘mental health day’, and spent a day pretending I was sick. I told everyone that I was sick and spent the day hiding away. It worked so well. Apparently, you can get more rest if you are not actually sick.
I then decided to experiment with doing this ‘day off’ on a regular basis to see if it helped me feel better. It changed my life around. I started planning these ‘days off’, and coming up with some ways to make them better. I felt so much better about life when I started incorporating these into my schedule. I slept better, I felt better, I rarely got sick, I was happier, I could think more clearly. It really seemed to fix a lot of the issues I had dealt with up to that point.
So, here is my system for Veg Days:
A Veg Day is a day that I set aside for ‘me time’. It is a day where I destress myself as much as I can. It is a day that I spend as far away from responsibilities as I can get.
A Veg Day consists of some important rules that are to be followed as much as possible.
- No work! This one is crucial, and so hard to follow. Even if I have one hour of work, then it will ruin the veg day. The way my brain works, I can’t relax if there is anything that I ‘have’ to do that day, like work. Work, in this sense, means anything that I have to force myself to do. So this means chores, laundry, actual work, anything like that.
- No phone calls or texting. This one is also pretty hard to follow, but I do my best. Talking to people or even sending texts is still stressful, so I keep it out of the Veg Day sanctuary.
- Nothing is off limits. Well, somethings are off limits I guess. But, I mean that I let myself do whatever random thing I think of without judging. I allow myself to follow anything that I feel like doing, which is a great liberty that I think we often don’t allow ourselves to experience. When I first started this step, it was difficult. I wound up laying on the grass and staring at the sky for a while, which was pretty good in itself. But then, I decided that I needed to make a hammock, which required me to make rope first, which required me to find a bunch of grass, which led me to go walk in the fields near my house and collect grass. It’s not important at all what activity I do, but it is important that I don’t ever try to control that activity.
- No pants! This rule is not too literal, but I used to have a rule of not putting pants on because putting pants on signifies that you are somehow more serious.
There are other rules that come and go as I see fit. Sometimes I will stay inside the house all day if I am feeling low. Sometimes, I will just sit in front of the TV all day. Sometimes I will just play video games for 14 hours. Most of the time, I work on random projects and play games in small bursts.
Some words of caution: Don’t take too many veg days in a row. I have taken up to 3 veg days before, and it gets real weird. After the 2nd day, you start to forget how to interact with people, you forget what things are acceptable to say around them, and you forget how to walk in public. These skills can be recovered pretty quickly, but just beware that you will look weird for the first few hours after returning to regular life. Plan your schedule accordingly.