Everything You Need to Know About Taking a Mental Health Day
Modern day society emphasizes the importance of physical health. We’re told to watch what we eat to ensure we get the proper nutrients in our diet. We’re told to exercise to receive the endless amounts of benefits associated with physical activity. But what about the mental health side of things?
Undeniably, society poses a larger mental energy drain than ever before. Technology has ingrained itself in every part of our life. With the constant flood of social media, there are more opportunities to compare ourselves to others. And generally, there’s more ways to feel overwhelmed, burnt out and completely mentally exhausted.
The problem arises when these feelings don’t only happen after a particularly tough workday but continue from one day to the next. If you keep attempting to “push” through it all, you may end up feeling depressed or anxious, and you may experience digestive issues, sleep difficulties and even chronic muscle pain. In truth, we all need a break once in a while.
This is where taking a mental health day comes in.
What Is a Mental Health Day?
A mental health day is when you take a day off from work due to your emotional or mental state of mind, such as feeling emotionally drained or ill. And there’s no need to feel guilty or embarrassed to do so. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and this is becoming increasingly recognized in our society today. When both are in tip-top shape, you can pave your way toward success in your work and personal life.
There is an array of benefits that come with taking a mental health day. The main benefit is that it can lower your stress levels. Chronic stress can transition from an emotional to a physical problem fairly quickly. In fact, chronic stress is associated with a wide variety of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease.
A mental health day may also give you a chance to reset and give yourself some much needed self-care and relaxation. In turn, this can help you be more productive at work and in your daily life. However, your mental health day may look different compared to a friend’s. Ideally, you want to spend the day doing what you need the most.
How to Take a Mental Health Day
So, how should you spend your mental health day? Generally, this is a personal decision. Again, you need to decide what you need the most.
For instance, if you’re exhausted, you may need to simply rest. Or perhaps booking yourself a massage is exactly what you need. Or maybe you just need to find time for fun or socializing.
The best thing you can do is ask yourself why you need this day in the first place. This can help determine how you will best spend your mental health day.
For relaxation: you can get a massage, spend the day doing nothing, go for a walk in nature, take a gentle yoga class, or spend the day reading — whatever works for you and helps you settle down.
For fun: participate in activities you enjoy, such as hobbies you never have time for, or plan your day around a certain event.
For combating stress: re-evaluating how and why you’re doing the activities or jobs in your life can help you figure out what you truly want out of life. Make lists by prioritizing what’s important to you and make note of what is draining all your energy. You may also want to give mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) a try!
For a break: consider getting away from everything for a long weekend. Or, partake in a staycation. If you constantly feel like you need a break, it may even help to talk to someone. Find a therapist or counselor and let them help you unpack whatever may be on your mind.
In the Workplace
Many workplaces are already implementing mental health day policies, just as they do for sick days. Some companies, like Deloitte, are beginning to understand the importance of mental health on productivity and the general health of the business. Some may offer training, resources, education and more on how to improve all aspects of health for employees.
Undoubtedly, mental health isn’t something employers should ignore. Some more innovative brands and organizations are beginning to pave the way toward better mental health in the workplace.
If your company doesn’t have a mental health day policy, consider bringing the topic up with your boss when you need one. Or, simply treat it as if you were sick (which, mentally, you may be feeling under the weather!). That way, you can come back to work and your regular grind ready to take on anything life throws at you.