“I need a mental health day.”
You’ve probably heard someone say that in the past week – maybe that someone was you.
Everyone seems to want one, and as to-do lists keep growing and time keeps shortening, it’s no wonder why everyone’s after one.
We’re careening towards burnouts, but taking time out to slow down seems self-indulgent and, for many, causes more stress. We don’t always treat mental wellbeing the same as our physical health – but, thankfully, that’s starting to change.
Why You Should Take A Mental Health Day
Taking a mental health day is the best thing you can do for yourself, we’ve told you about it before. Looking out for your mental health can improve energy, motivation & productivity, mood, and stress-management,
It’s important to differentiate the two kinds of mental health days: one for diagnosed mental illnesses; and the other to fix built-up stress.
But, whatever the reason, self-care is the bottom line. And if you don’t make time now, you might be in trouble real soon.
Signs You Need A Mental Health Day
FYI, taking a mental health day isn’t chucking a sickie and having a day off watching Netflix. Don’t use and abuse them and give mental health days a bad name. Mental health days are to prevent burnout. Not to treat yourself for the sake of it. And here are the five signs to look out for to indicate if you need some serious R&R.
#1 Your Physical Health Is No Good.
Is your skin may be breaking out bad? Has your body weight significantly fluctuated? Are you spending more time and money in a pharmacy than usual? If your body is physically out of whack, that’s a big clue something isn’t quite right internally.
#2 Your Sleep Schedule Is Cooked.
NOT because you’re scrolling through Facebook until 2 AM. When you’re overworked and overwhelmed, two things can happen: you’ll sleep all the time, or not at all. And when your sleep suffers, so does everything else.
#3 Your Mood Is All Over The Place.
Your face is always puffy from crying, little things really piss you off, sometimes you’re really happy (but only for a little while). Or maybe you feel absolutely nothing at all. If its out of the ordinary, check in with yourself by checking out.
#4 You’re Not Doing What You Usually Do.
Usually, you’re the life of the party, but lately you hate getting invited out. Maybe your work is suffering, or maybe your hobbies spark zero joy anymore. If this sounds like you, something’s probably up.
#5 You’re Not Thinking Clearly
Out of the ordinary thoughts are pretty common when your mental health is suffering. Whether it’s feeling disgruntled or disillusioned, taking things personally, or spiralling and catastrophising a bad situation, take it as a sign to clock off.
Basically, if it’s not normal, and it’s a recurring issue that’s affecting your lifestyle, it’s probably time to take some time.
How To Take A Mental Health Day
Waking up and dreading going to work doesn’t justify ‘chucking a sickie’ in the name of mental health. That’s not the aim of the game.
Ideally, you’d take your mental health day on a designated day off, to really soak it up guilt-free . But, if you need to sacrifice a day on the job (which is 100% legit btw), you’ve got to be across your work rights and time-off protocols.
The next step is to contact your boss. Be direct and simple, let them know you’re struggling and that taking this one day will be better for everyone in the future. No need for specifics, just be honest.
As for taking the day, this is no time for vegging out – though that would be bloody terrific.
You could give your wellbeing a boost by getting active or ‘zen’ with some meditation. Or use the day to knock off the other sources of stress at home – pay the bills, file your taxes, do some gardening, cleaning. Get out and socialise with a friend. And give your mum a call (she always knows what to say).
Take time for personal TLC. And while you mightn’t fix heavy, underlying problems in one day, it can provide a much-needed recharge to come back with fresh energy and perspective. Just use the day wisely, with every effort going toward looking after yourself.
And if a day off is what you need to realise you need some professional help, there’s no shame in getting it.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
Image Sources: Unsplash (@all_who_wonder, @esdesignisms), Giphy