Truthfully, it should not be normal to feel worked into the ground and chronically overwhelmed. But if you feel that way, you should take a mental health day.
Mental health days help you feel grounded and re-energized, maintain a healthy work-life perspective, manage burnout, and feel refreshed for the long-term.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day; check out these stories that can help you support your mental health:
What exactly is a mental health day?
A mental health day is simply a day off that is specifically and strategically geared towards a stress relief. While one day may not burn by itself, a mental health day can definitely provide you with a much-needed (and well-deserved) break.
"Talking therapist, Amy Cirbus, told CNET:" By taking mental health days, you're placing equal value between your mental and emotional well-being and your physical well-being, "Talkspace therapist Amy Cirbus told CNET. When you need a mental health day, but well worth the effort. "
Ideally, these days would have to be in advance so that you can arrange your workload or enlist to help you do not worry about what's likely to be a stress-free day. But that's not possible, and it's totally OK to take a moment-of-the-moment mental health day if you need to.
You may feel guilty about taking time off to your mental health because the practice is not as common as it is in a sick day for physical illness. But when you're overly stressed, you and your work suffer, which can lead to a slew of issues. If your job requires any form of manual labor, pushing through burnout can even lead to physical injuries.
Oh, and mental health days are not just for adults. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a pediatric psychologist, told CNET that children, teens and young adults need mental health days just as much as working professionals do.
"The majority [of adults] work more than 40 hours a week, and this work-all-the-time attitude has shifted to similar expectations for teens and young adults," Capanna-Hodge says. "Academic demands have increased, and teens are sleeping less and less … without adequate sleep, cognitive functioning declines and stress builds."
Cappana-Hodge says: "It's critical that children and teens learn how to take care of themselves with proper sleep, nutrition and stress management" so by the time they reach adulthood, they've established healthy habits and boundaries.
Signs you need a mental health day
Stress, anxiety and burnout are different in everyone, but you should look for some common symptoms.
- Sleeplessness at night
- Chronic daytime fatigue
- Over-reliance on caffeine or other stimulants
- Excessive difficulty focusing
- Downturn in productivity
- Feelings of depletion
- Personality of work frustrations
- Recurring headaches, colds or other physical ailments
Experiencing many of these symptoms at once, or even just on a regular basis, is a good indicator that you need a mental health day, Cirbus says.
How do you tell your boss you need a mental health day?
Once you decide you need a mental health day, the next step is to actually arrange it. You may think that this is the easiest way to take a mental health day. While that might be the easiest tactic up front, it's just going to further perpetuate the stigma around mental health in the workplace.
Instead of fibbing, you should tell your boss exactly what you need, Cirbus says. "Mental health is just as much a sick day as a physical sick day." Communicate to your boss that you do not feel well, and let them know you need to take off in order to take care of yourself. "
Some workplaces prioritize wellness, and those workplaces will welcome the idea of taking care of your mental health, knowing you'll come back ready for work and more productive than before.
Other workplaces may not be comfortable with the concept. Either way, you do not need to divulge all the details, but you should stand firm in the fact that in order to work at your best, you need a day to take care of yourself.
How should you spend a mental health day?
Once you secure the day off, it's important that you actually use this time to help yourself reset.
- Get into a good day's sleep a massage.
- Take a nap.
- Connect with nature on a beach, at the beach, or whatever you like.
- Bake some goodies to yourself or with friends.
- Paint or draw .
- Read a book.
- Call someone you miss.
You do not need to plan a full day of activities for your mental health day. In fact, less is often more. And you do not have to engage in Instagram-worthy self-care, either. Not everyone wants to feel refreshed after a bubble bath, face mask and hot-stone massage – some people will enjoy their best after a hard workout, a hearty meal and an episode of their favorite TV show. Plus, trying too hard to epitomize self-care wants to make it feel like more of a chore.
Just doing things that make you feel relieved, refreshed, and ready for the next day at work, even if that's just non-work-related items off of your to-do list. Whatever you choose to do, Cirbus says it's a great way to stay away from social media and be mindful of your time.
"Connect in real life with yourself or great company and be present as you can with the day," Cirbus says. "Ask yourself, what can you do that you will feel your best at the end of this day."
Read more: 5 life hacks for relieving anxiety
How often should you take mental health days?
There's no standard for the frequency of mental health days, Cirbus says. It all depends on the individual's circumstances and stress tolerance, and it can vary.
Some months, you may not feel the need for a mental health day, other months you may need more than one. "On average, it can be good to schedule at least one to two mental health days a quarter," Cirbus says. "Scheduled days off create a routine of good self-care which helps maintain stability and sustainability over time."
The same is true for children, teens and young adults, Cappana-Hodge says. If they are more likely to suffer from stress or irritation, they would benefit from more frequent mental health days, or mental health breaks that are longer in duration. For instance, taking two days off, or postponing a mental health day on Friday so that it extends through the weekend, would benefit those who need extra time to reset.
You can make a full mental health day if you feel like it.
"In an ideal world, everyone should be able to manage stress on their own," Cappana-Hodge says. "Quiet as a little of 10 minutes of mediation or some quiet activity helps to regulate the nervous system, increase focus, and build calm within the brain and body."