By Diana Sanchez, Staff Writer
Photo by @rw.studios on Unsplash
We live in a culture that glamorizes overworking and working hard - and for good reason. The USA is the land for creating our own opportunities and living the American dream. But there is nothing glamorous about wrecking your mental health. Life is all about balance and you have to prioritize your health, both mental and physical, to live a good life. Read on to find you why you need the occasional mental health day.
Problems with mental health are generally less visible than problems with your physical health. No one is going to question your need to stay home if you, for example, just broke your leg. But if you’re experiencing overwhelming stress or are feeling depressed that’s harder to see on the surface and you might feel compelled to go to work anyway - even if that could make your condition worse.
You have to consider that caring for your mental health is just as important as caring for your body. After all, if you have sick days, no one should dictate how and why you use your sick days if your well-being is at risk. The reality is, everyone needs to “reset” every once in a while, and sometimes you really, really need to reset. And that’s okay. Company policies should encourage this - after all, happy employees are productive employees.
There are a few situations in which you definitely, positively should take a mental health day:
1. Your job performance is seriously impacted.
If you are going through something (be it depression, anxiety, or anything else) and are having trouble focusing and doing your job well at work, a mental health day might be necessary. If you happen to have a job where lack of concentration can cause you to injure yourself or others, you definitely should take a breather to take care of yourself. We are all human, and some days, there is not much you can do to shift your focus. And I’m here to tell you, that’s okay. We all have those days. Take care of you first, and the rest will follow.
2. You feel drained and exhausted and it doesn’t seem to go away.
Ever had those days where no matter how much you sleep, you wake up tired? When you feel a sense of exhaustion that goes right down to your bones, a mental health day might be the answer. Having the day off to rest up and relax at home can help you feel better and ready to tackle another day.
3. You are constantly irritated or upset.
Ever have those days when you can’t seem to get along with anyone? I think we’ve all been there from time to time. When that’s happening you have to take a step back and ask yourself why that’s happening. Are you anxious? Stressed out? If how you’re feeling is affecting how you’re interacting with others, you may need to take a break and re-group. It might make a world of difference to take some time to yourself.
4. Your anxiety seems out of control.
As someone who has struggled with anxiety all of her life, I can tell you that when your anxiety grows and feels unmanageable, that is because it is unmanageable. Heightened anxiety levels can make it really difficult to complete even the smallest tasks, at home or at work. In hindsight, I can recall going to work on certain days when I definitely should have just stayed home. It is challenging to be productive when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your anxiety and forcing yourself through that isn’t helpful for anyone, least of all you. When your anxiety is through the roof, pressing the pause button by taking a mental health day can be greatly helpful for you, and can give you the boost you need to swing back into your routine the following day.
This list is not all exhaustive. You know yourself and your body, and if you feel that you need a mental health day for any other reason, then take it. Your mind is just as much a part of you as any other part of your body, and it must be prioritized, too. If what you are going through cannot be resolved with a mental health day, then please seek professional help. No one should be in a situation where their mental health is making them feel boxed in and helpless. And you don’t have to feel that way! Here’s a list of resources for you.
If you'd like some ideas as to what to do during your mental health day, check out our blog!
Have you taken a mental health day recently? Did it help? I’d love to hear your thoughts!