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I’ll never understand why it’s so hard for some people to see that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
If we’re physically sick, it’s acceptable to take the day off from work or school or whatever else. But if we’re having a bad mental health day, we feel that we should just keep going and get over it. We act as if we can just cover it up and hide it. And maybe that can work for a while.
If you had a broken bone and just tried to keep going and get over it, things would just get worse. And the same thing can happen with our mental health. If you don’t give yourself a chance to work it out, things will get worse.
That’s why mental health days are so important. Even if you don’t struggle with mental illness, mental health days might still be a necessity. They allow you to reset, recharge and take a much-needed break.
Honestly, I’ve taken plenty of mental health days recently. I’ve been struggling with unknown physical health problems and they’ve taken a SERIOUS toll on my mental health. As someone who struggles with an anxiety disorder, I’m always prone to be anxious so this has been hell.
Still, I feel guilty for taking a day or two (or more) off. I don’t know why because this shouldn’t be something we feel guilty about if it’s actually needed.
So, it’s safe to say that if you’re a workaholic like me, mental health days can be a bit complicated.
Here’s when and how to take a mental health day off if – and when – you need one!
When to take a day off
It’s important to know when you’re in need of a mental health day before things get really bad. This doesn’t mean you should take one every single time you feel like taking a day off. That’s just not responsible. But if you notice major signs like these, taking one will definitely have its benefits!
You feel mentally drained or frazzled. // My biggest sign that I’m in need of a mental health day is when I start to feel drained and frazzled. I have trouble concentrating, my anxiety really starts to come to the surface, and I’m just a mess. This lets me know that I need a day off!
You’re moody or on edge. // The other red flag for me is when I start feeling moody or on edge. Every little thing starts to annoy me and I find myself snapping at people – which is really unlike me. This is a huge sign that I’m in need of a break and some self-care!
You’re distracted by something major that you need to work out. // This one’s pretty obvious. If you have a major problem in your life that’s constantly on your mind, you should definitely take a day to work it out. You won’t be doing your best work if your mind is elsewhere anyway!
You’re chronically exhausted. // If you’re exhausted all the time, this could be a big indicator that you need some rest. Whether you’re just over-stressed or you’re having trouble sleeping, a mental health day could help!
You’ve been seriously neglecting yourself. // Just like our phones need to be recharged if we want to keep using them, we need time to recharge if we want to keep performing well. So, if you’ve been neglecting basic self-care, a mental health day can help!
You’re feeling unwell. // Our mental health and physical health can be super connected. If you’re feeling sore, tired, or achy, it could be due to depression or anxiety. Even a loss of appetite or a head cold can be due to mental health issues. A mental health day could help!
How to spend your day off
Sleeping all day or binge-watching TV may sound super tempting on your day off. If you want to get the full benefits of taking a mental health day, it’s good to do things that will actually benefit your mental health! I always try to do something that’s good for my mind, something that’s good for my body, and something that’s good for my soul. Here are some ideas!
Unplug, unplug, UNPLUG. // Resist the urge to check social media or to answer unwanted texts and calls. It’s one thing to call a friend or family member and have a nice chat but other than that, unplugging would be so much more beneficial.
Do things that are good for your physical health. // Like I said before, our physical health and mental health are so closely related. So go for a walk. Do some yoga. Eat healthy foods. Drink enough water. Make sure you’re taking good care of your overall physical health!
Relax and get cozy. // On bad mental health days, comfort can be crucial. So spend a little bit of time relaxing and getting comfortable. Put on comfy clothes, settle on the couch with a blanket and a good book, or do whatever else you need to feel cozy.
Do something that makes you happy. // If you’re feeling burned out and stressed to the max, you might not be squeezing enough fun into your schedule. So, spend your day off doing something that makes you happy. Watch a movie you’ve been wanting to see. Take time to work on a hobby you love. Visit someone that you’ve been wanting to spend time with. It’s all up to you!
Don’t worry about your work. // I shouldn’t have to say this, but sometimes we just need to hear it. Taking this day off means taking a break from work. So don’t worry about emails or phone calls or anything like that. Just focus on YOU for a day.
Accomplish simple tasks. // While you shouldn’t be worrying about work, accomplishing small tasks can make you happy. This is true for me, at least. Small things like tidying up your home or doing a load of laundry can help you be a little productive. They will also make your environment cleaner – which can help your mood.
Connect with sunshine and nature. // Fresh air, sunshine, and nature – we know all three are good for us. Taking a walk or just sitting outside can definitely boost our mood and help us feel more refreshed. So get outside if you can!
Focus on your spirituality. // Reading the Bible, prayer, and meditation always help when I’m feeling down. It doesn’t matter what your form of spirituality is. Spending time focusing on it can do so much to help a negative mental space. Of course, this can mean something different for everyone.
Cleanse your space. // Along the lines of the previous point, cleansing your space is a good idea when you’re taking a mental health day off. If you have crystals, cleanse them. Smudge your house. Pray for protection. Whatever works for you!
Do something creative. // Expressing ourselves creatively is important, especially for highly sensitive people like myself. If you have a lot of emotions built up, let it out!
You might like: 30 Creative Hobby Ideas for Better Mental Health
See how you feel afterward. // If all you needed was a simple day off for your mental health, you should feel considerably better afterward. If you’re still feeling bad or burned out, you may need something else. Maybe you should think about asking someone for help – whether it’s with childcare or outsourcing some of your work. Or consider seeing a professional and finding out if you need further help with your mental health.
Tips for taking a mental health day off
It’s still not very socially acceptable to admit that you need a day off for your mental health. It might not be something that you just want to blurt out to your boss because it could cause problems. It would be awesome if there were systems in place to help employees take care of their mental health like there are for physical health. But we’re not there quite yet. So, here are some tips for getting a day off for your mental health!
Plan for it in advance, if you can. // If you work for someone that you think would be understanding of mental health issues, try to talk to them before you need one. Bring up the idea of a mental health day and see if they’ll allow it. Some people understand how these days off can benefit employees.
Find a way to get your boss to understand. // If you understand the way your boss thinks, think of a way that they could understand. For example, if they’re really focused on productivity, tell them that a mental health day is necessary in order for you to be productive.
Take a sick day, if you have to. // If there’s no other way to take a day off, use a sick day. Sometimes it’s just necessary in order to take proper care of yourself!