You don’t need to wait until you are stuck in bed with the flu to take a day off of work. In fact, taking a mental health day is something everyone should do every once in awhile. It’s beneficial for your mind, body and soul, and might even make you more productive when you do return to work, as you’re likely to be more relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to check things off your to-do list. Samantha is here today with a few reasons why taking a mental health day is a must.
As someone who has struggled with (clinically diagnosed) extreme anxiety for my entire life, I’m a big advocate for taking mental health days. But as someone who is a (self-diagnosed) workaholic, I completely understand the hesitation. A lot of companies are starting to incorporate mental health days into their standard paid time off, and it’s amazing. But if you work hourly or maybe for a manager that doesn’t quite understand the need, it can feel more like a burden than a positive experience. Trust me, as someone who worked in HR for a long time, I totally get it.
There are different levels of stress, anxiety and exhaustion. I’m obviously not a doctor, but I’ve been on every end of the spectrum and can tell you how necessary mental health days are to your overall well-being. Even if you don’t struggle daily with anxiety or other clinical mental illnesses, there are still so many reasons why you could benefit from a mental health day
You’re physically exhausted
Overworking yourself mentally can lead to physical exhaustion. And basically when you’re exhausted your body reacts one of two ways: craving endless amounts of sleep, or the inability to fall asleep and reset your system.
Your anxiety is knocking
If you’ve had anxiety before, you know it manifests in a variety of symptoms. Your brain, your gut and your nervous system are all affected by anxiety. There doesn’t even need to be a traumatic event. Sometimes your chemicals just shift and your anxiety is triggered. It’s the same for anyone who lives with clinical depression. Something doesn’t have to happen in order for that chemical shift to occur and mess up your whole week.
Your immune system needs a reset
Have you ever had a period where you just kept catching the same cold over and over again? When your body is run down, your immune system is weakened and you’re more susceptible to illnesses. If you’re feeling like you need a day to just catch up, take it.
You’re feeling out of sorts
Brain fog is the worst, right? You can feel disconnected, or even snippy. If you’re just not feeling yourself and know you’re not going to do your best work in the proper environment, it’s time to refresh.
OK, so what if you need a mental health day, but your current situation doesn’t support it? Or maybe it’s just not financially doable to take an unpaid day off? Ideally, if you can schedule the day ahead of time, you can plan accordingly. This requires two steps:
- Having the foresight to know you’re going to need a break and look ahead.
- Chat with your supervisor/significant other/family, anyone that would be affected by you taking a day to yourself.
Taking a mental health day at the last minute can actually add more stress because you’re worried about letting people down or causing a scramble. But if you can work it out ahead of time, the expectations will be set. If all else fails, use your weekend to completely unplug and reset mentally.
Once you have it set, figure out what is going to be the most effective use of your time. Look at the reason why you’re taking a mental health day. Are you physically exhausted? REST. Is your anxiety manifesting? Find what helps take you out of that space, whether it be relaxing or just a change of scenery. Are you feeling out of sorts? Get out and have some fun. Taking a mental health day doesn’t have to mean you’re just laying in bed watching reruns of “The Office.” But if that’s what you need, do it.
You take sick days when you’re ill. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. They often go hand in hand, so if you take care of one you take care of the other.
You deserve to feel your absolute best. I support you!
Want some more mindfulness tips? Check out 6 things you can do to better take care of yourself, or tips to have a more mindful morning.