At some point in your life, you’ve probably woken up and thought, “I would rather do ANYTHING than get out of bed and go to work today.” There’s nothing wrong with feeling burnt out, anxious, or stressed, but letting these emotions build and fester can lead to problems at work and with your mental health.
Taking time off for your mental health is becoming more of a priority (as it should!), but not without some pushback and feelings of guilt. Keep reading for tips on getting past the guilt and how to spend your mental health day once you take one.
How to tell when you should take one
Are you dreading going to work? Does the idea of sitting at your desk another day make you feel heavy and overwhelmed? Does thinking about the pile of work waiting for you cause your stress and anxiety to go through the roof?
It might be time to take a mental health day.
Burnout or overworking could be contributing to these feelings of overwhelm and stress. In order to continue to be productive and not completely hate your job, it might be a good time to take a step back and take care of yourself for a day or two. Giving yourself permission to have time to recharge can help you get back to 100% and ready for your job.
What to do during one
Focus on activities that bring you joy and comfort. That could mean many different things depending on what you enjoy. For some, it could mean cleaning the house and doing yard work; for others, it could be getting a massage and baking. Think about the things you WISH you had time for during a hectic work week.
Try not to go in totally blind. Not having a plan could add stress to a day that’s meant to relax and recharge. It doesn’t need to be rigid and down to the minute, but a flexible outline with a few activities you enjoy. Having at least an idea of what you’d like to do during your mental health day ensures you partake in something that brings you joy.
What NOT to do during one
Avoid catching up on emails, housework, laundry, etc. Unless the actual act of these tasks is therapeutic for you, try to focus on other activities.
It’s tempting to use your mental health day as time to catch up on everything that collects throughout the week, but this won’t leave you feeling recharged the same way taking this time for yourself would. Again, if these kinds of activities are therapeutic for you and bring you a sense of calm, then by all means, go ahead! It’s important to plan your day to bring you calm, comfort, and relaxation.
How they benefit your overall well being
Taking a day to recharge your mental batteries can help you be more productive at work. Some findings even claim that taking a mental health day and returning at 100% is more beneficial than staying at work while struggling with your mental health. The level of productivity is higher for those who take care of their mental health and return recharged.
Learning when and how to put yourself first helps you connect with yourself on deeper levels. Self-care activities are a great way to get to know yourself, take care of yourself, and recharge your mind and body.
How to get past the guilt of taking one
For some careers, taking a day off requires more work than just staying and powering through it. Others create a mess for coworkers. To try and avoid these complications, plan ahead for when you want to take your mental health day. Get your work done early so your coworkers don’t have to pick up the slack. If you’re in education, have a couple of emergency lesson plans on file to take a little stress off when you do need to take a day for yourself.
If you don’t put yourself first, who will?
While taking a mental health day is not a replacement for a prescription or professional mental health services, taking a day for yourself can help you relax, de-stress, and prepare to return to work at 100%.
At the end of the day, it’s all up to how you feel and what you enjoy doing in order to connect with yourself. Mental health days are an important step in getting to know yourself better and allowing yourself time to recharge and take on the world when you’re ready.