Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why A Mental Health Day Is Okay

When stress stacks up, it's time for a mental health day.
When stress stacks up, it's time for a mental health day.
Image: Shutterstock
I’m lucky enough that my current job is one that I don’t mind waking up and going to each morning during the week. It wasn’t always that way, so I’m grateful each day for being able to do something I love. But even working in a world where I get to do things I like every day can be stressful at times. Projects come in, sometimes piling up so high that there seems to be no end in sight. Some weeks, emotions run high, and just being in the office can be enough to add extra stress. Sometimes, I just need a mental health day.

To be clear, I’m one of those people that almost never takes a sick day. Other than pre-scheduled days off, if I’m not in, it’s usually because I either a) literally can’t function, or b) am being forced to stay home by my significant other. But I’m beginning to realize that for me to stay motivated, sometimes I need to take an extra day for me. Sometimes, the relaxation time I need to stay focused doesn’t fit into that neat little Saturday-Sunday slot. And that’s 100% okay.

This year especially, I’ve started paying more attention to my body. The messages it sends me inform when I need a mental health day.

When I’m still stressed out from last week on Monday, it’s usually a good sign that I need a little more down time. On these days, I often work from home, leave work a few hours early, or go in a little later than normal. If I’m really stressed, I’ll take the day off completely.

Spend mental health days relaxing, NOT working!
Spend mental health days relaxing, NOT working!
Image: Shutterstock
If I am feeling particularly snippy around home or in the office, I need to take a breather. Taking the day off to relax, accomplish some items on an overflowing to-do list, and find tranquility in the ways I know best, is usually all I need to perk right back up.

Like I said, I love my job. But some days, it doesn’t feel like it. I’m lethargic, apathetic, and have a generally pessimistic view of whatever I’m working on. Perhaps I’m feeling anxious or overly sensitive. I’m watching the clock, and each minute is ticking by excruciatingly slowly. I want to be anywhere but at work, and perhaps it would be best for everyone if I weren’t. 

 Asking for these days off might be tricky for some. My boss knows that the work we do gets stressful sometimes, and she is a big proponent of mental health days when we need them—as long as we’re not taking them all the time. It’s a rarity to be enjoyed every once in a while. But other bosses might be a little more sensitive, so keep that in mind. Don’t lie; simply tell him or her that you need a personal day.

If you can, try and schedule your day in advance, ensuring that there will be no fires for coworkers to put out while you are gone. Plus, then it gives you something to look forward to for a few days. While you are off, take time to relax, catching up on extra sleep, doing something you love, and limiting how much work you do.

Taking good care of your body isn’t always just about eating right and exercising; it’s about mental health, too. Our brains are muscles, and just like they need to be worked out, they also need to get some rest time in. Trust me, allowing yourself the leeway of a mental health day here and there will be better for everyone.

I love reading and spending time with my dog. I’m always working on a creative writing project, so mental health days generally include some work on that. What would you do with a mental health day? Tell me what makes you happiest in the world.
Google