Taking time off work when you’re sick is a no brainer. Companies are usually very understanding, and you will be healthy again much more quickly if you take the time to rest and get better. Staying home when you’re sick can help to keep your co-workers healthy as well. Taking time off for mental health is a new phenomenon, but many would uphold that mental health days are just as important as physical health days.
Many companies have policies that allow for mental health or personal time off, but it can still be hard to take that time when you just need a break to regroup and reset. Employees often feel guilty or reluctant to use these days and end up going to work anyways even when what they really need is a mental break. However, when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, both your personal life and your work life can suffer. Continuing to push yourself when you really need a break can cause the quality of your work to decline and can even cause relational issues in the office.
Knowing when to take a mental health day is critical to your personal well-being and business success. Read on to find out how to decide if a mental health day is what you need.
When to take a mental health day:
According to a Healthline Interview with Dr. Ashley Hampton, a licensed psychologist, “If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, have trouble focusing or concentrating on work or at home, or are more irritable, then you may want to consider taking a mental health day. If you think about your life as a plate with sections for work, family, life, and things you like to do, and the plate is overflowing in all areas but the things you like to do, it is time for you to take a break and participate in self-care.”
It can be easy to convince yourself that your mental health and wellbeing is not a good enough reason to stay home. Still, your mental health is just as crucial to your physical health, and a decline can severely impact your performance at work. Just like your body, your mind needs time to rest and recover.
We’re not suggesting you take a mental health day every time you feel a bit frustrated with your job or think you’d like to sleep in. But serious mental health issues, such as waking up feeling so stressed or anxious that you can’t think straight require more than just motivation and determination to head into the office.
Sometimes you feel this way for no apparent reason, and that’s ok. However, pay special attention to your mental health if you have other unusual stressors in your life, such as a severe diagnosis or death in your family or close circle, a move, the loss of a pet, or a suddenly difficult relationship with a spouse. You are often the only one who knows when you’re nearing a breaking point and, therefore, the best judge of when it’s time to take a mental health day. Be wise, trust yourself, and listen to your body and mind. All of us need mental health days occasionally, so don’t beat yourself up.
What to say to your boss:
In her interview with Healthline, Hampton explained, “How to go about taking a mental health day can be tricky. I encourage everyone to determine what specific company policy is before saying anything about mental health. Not all company policies consider mental health a viable reason to take a sick day. In this case, it would be preferable to simply ask for sick time in a way that is consistent with company culture.”
Don’t feel pressured to go into great detail when requesting time off. Simply letting your boss know that you’re not feeling well (no need to explain that it’s mental and not physical) is often enough. Your mental health is personal, and it’s nobody’s business but your own.
What to do on your mental health day:
Most of us know just what to do on a sick day to help us feel better, but it can be harder to figure out just what to do once you’ve taken a mental health day. Thankfully, it’s not that complicated. Do things that help you to feel better.
According to Hampton in her Healthline interview, “The goal is to reduce any negative emotions, like stress and overwhelm.” Do whatever you need to do to make that happen!
For some, a long nap or a hot shower may do the trick. Others may choose to spend the day getting a massage at the spa or reading a good book. For some, speaking with a counselor or using an online service like Lifehelp App may be just the thing they need. For other people, especially those who are feeling overwhelmed, checking simple tasks like laundry and errands off a to-do list may be just the thing to help reduce stress. But be careful not to put extra pressure to accomplish on yourself when you’re taking a mental health day. These things can always get done another time, so be sure to take this time to give yourself a break you need.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t worry about being selfish. A mental health day is all about you and what you need to help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. It may feel odd to partake in leisure activities when you would usually be working, but remember that caring for your mental health now will make you a better employee in the future. There is no need to feel guilty for taking a mental health day.