Have you ever bristled at the thought of taking a mental health day even though you’ve experienced days where you’re in an unproductive fog at work? You’re not alone. Taking a mental health day is often perceived as an excuse for employees who don’t want to work. However, that perception couldn’t be further from reality. A mental health day is when an employee takes time off work to relieve stress, renew vitality, or do what is needed to care for their mental and emotional well-being. Taking a mental health day shouldn’t be something we’re ashamed of.
Sometimes, taking a mental health day is what we need most.
While we’re expected to take a day off when we’re sick with the flu, why can’t we also take time off to take care of our mental and emotional health? We all require time off to heal from all illnesses, and our mental health shouldn’t be excluded. So how do you know when you need a mental health day?
You’re Tired All the Time
One of the key signs that signifies our need for a mental health day is when we’re tired all the time. Whether you’re physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired, or a combination of all three, tiredness is a tell-tale sign that you need a break. Pay attention to your sleep habits because if you’re struggling to sleep or find yourself oversleeping, it may be a sign from your body that something isn’t functioning properly. In these situations, a mental health day could mean you need a day of rest.
You Can’t Focus
We’ve all had days where there is a mountain of tasks on your to-do list and you can’t seem to get off your social feeds to get them done. When your mind feels scattered and you find yourself unable to focus during your work day, then this is another common sign that you need a mental health day. Consider using your mental health day to catch up on tasks outside of work like paying bills, filing taxes, or house chores that have piled up. Focusing our attention on things we need to address in our personal lives is a great way to use a mental health day to bring more focus into our lives. It’s an opportunity to bring a sense of accomplishment that was lacking at work while bringing clarity and determination to refocus our attention to work tasks we struggled with before.
You’re Feeling Down
In life, we all experience our peaks and valleys that affect our general mood. Some weeks are full of successes and good times with friends while other weeks are filled with unexpected roadblocks and days where nothing seems to be going right. If you’re feeling down, an invigorating mental health day may be in order to boost your mood and disposition. Lean into self-care and focus on doing things that give you pleasure and enjoyment. Maybe that means taking a soothing bath or having a leisurely lunch with a friend. Do whatever it is that invigorates you. If you’re feeling something more serious than the occasional blahs, consider seeking help through other channels because taking a day to cheer yourself up may not be enough.
You Keep Getting Sick
When we’re chronically stressed, our bodies don’t have the time to regenerate and heal themselves at full capacity resulting in recurring colds and illnesses. Chronic illness is a sign that your body needs time to rest, so a mental health day could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Spend the day tending to your body’s needs to give it the time and care it requires to heal.
You Overreact to Minor Issues
Stress brings out many feelings in all of us, and one of the most common symptoms of stress is having a shorter fuse. This means we can be very short with the people around us and become easily irritated at things that would not normally bother us when we’re not stressed. If you find yourself being easily irritated by minor issues, then this is a sign that you need to walk away. Taking a mental health day will help your anger and high emotions dissipate. When we take a step back to cool down, we can look beyond our emotions and at the bigger picture. That way, when you return to the issue, you have a clearer mind and calmer demeanour to deal with the stress and problem accordingly.
You Feel Disconnected
It’s completely normal to feel disconnected and detached from the world when we spend our days in front of a computer screen with piles of work barricading us in our offices. If you find yourself withdrawing from people due to work obligations, then that’s another sign that indicates a need for a mental health day. A good way to spend your mental health day when you’re feeling withdrawn is to reconnect with the people you care about in your social circle. Spending time to cultivate those bonds can revitalize our feeling of connection to people and the world around us.
It’s Okay to Not be Okay
Taking a mental health day is just as important as calling in sick. Our mental health affects our physical health, so there’s no shame in taking a mental health day to focus on caring for ourselves. Devoting time to our mental health and well-being will help all of us be more productive, present, and effective at work. It’s okay to not be okay, and recognizing and heeding the signs that show we aren’t okay takes practice. But you can do it. We all can do it. And together, we can reduce the stigma of taking time away from work to care for our mental health and well-being.
Written by Eleni Zaptses
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