How to Take a Mental Health Day & Make the Best of It

We all can agree that if you aren’t feeling great, you shouldn’t go to work. If you have a severe cough, a runny nose, or fever, it’s clear you have to call in sick. But why do we only let ourselves have time off for those kinds of “sick” and not others? (Particularly now that a lot of us are working full-time in our homes!)

Mental health is just as serious as physical health. 1/5 adults experience mental illness each year. Left untreated, mental illness can lead to a risk of cardiovascular disease, worsening symptoms, and even brain damage. So, it’s not only necessary to take control of your mental health in the design of a day off, but it’s essential to allow yourself the opportunity to catch your breath.

In today’s fast-paced world, there are frequently times where we’re asked to work at an unsustainable speed. This sets us up for burnout. Giving yourself a mental health day provides you space to center yourself, breathe, and relax.

Signs you clearly need a mental health day.

Letting yourself take a mental health day whenever you feel the slightest twinge of stress or discomfort in your job is not a good route to take. Save your mental health day for a time when the strain of work becomes unbearable. When you’re getting sick more often, neglecting your exercise habits, or not eating right, this might be a sign that you need to allow yourself a day off. But these signs can differ for everyone.

Still, it can simply be things like having little to no patience for those around you, causing you to snap at coworkers and friends.

So, pay attention to what is going on inside your head and check in with yourself as much as possible.

How you should spend your day

It can be simple to lay in bed all day and catch up on all your favorite Netflix series, but the truth is mental health days should give your body what it is lacking. For a lot of us, that’s recharging your battery with quality time. Getting a massage or taking a workout class are great options, but one thing everyone can do is get outdoors.

Take a walk in the woods or in a park, get exercise, breathe in the fresh air, and let your mind relax and notice the beauty around you. Other ways include sleeping in to feel well-rested or making yourself a healthy meal, or journaling. By doing things for yourself that you like to do and that have some level of productivity, you won’t feel the guilt that comes with eating junk food, lying in bed all day, or binging an entire season of a show you’ve meant to catch up on.

Why your mental health day matters

Allowing yourself a mental health day lets you regain perspective on your health, recharge, and get some much-needed rest. Realistically, suppose these needs are not met, your mental health can affect your work performance and entire composure in the workspace.

Many of the mental benefits of taking a mental health day are improved personal and professional relationships, regaining mental clarity, feeling reinvigorated, and having a renewed sense of calm.

The more acceptable it becomes to recognize and talk about that many of us suffer from mental health disorders, the more accepted it will become for us to take mental health days. Still, if you feel there might be more going on, consult a life coach or therapist who can help you look at your life to see bigger issues at play.