If you’re feeling under the weather, it’s natural to take a day off. But those PTO days aren’t just there for when you’re feeling physically ill. Sometimes it’s just as important to take a mental health day. Taking a break from your everyday life stressors and giving your emotional side some extra care can make a big difference. It can also help prevent the symptoms you may be feeling from spiraling out.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it’s unfortunate that eight in ten workers say that shame and stigma prevent them from seeking treatment for a medical condition. The reality is, nobody benefits from you ignoring your mental health.
However, discussing your mental health with your boss or asking for a mental health day can be difficult, especially if you’re a perfectionist or workaholic. But, remember: being successful isn’t just putting in hours each day. It’s also about knowing what you need to fill your mental and emotional cup, so you can perform at your best. And sometimes what you need is a mental health day to bring you clarity and peace of mind.
Here are 10 signs that you might need to take a mental health day.
You’re easily set off by just about everyone and everything.
Slack notifications driving you crazy? Ready to pop-off at everyone during company Zoom meetings? If you’ve been more irritable than usual, it’s a strong sign that you need some time to rest and recharge.
You can’t stop thinking about work, even in your sleep.
When you start getting work nightmares, you definitely need some time away to clear your mind.
You’re struggling with insomnia.
That is, when you’re not experiencing work-induced nightmares. If you usually don’t have issues falling asleep but have lately been consumed by racing thoughts at night, you may need some time off to recenter yourself.
You’re constantly picking fights with your significant other.
Think back — was the fight even because of them or was it born out of work-related stress?
You’re late to meetings and have been missing deadlines.
If you’re typically on your A-game but have been feeling scattered lately, you may need time to recharge.
You’re more anxious than usual.
Feeling anxious every now and then is human nature. It’s not normal, however, if you’re experiencing anxious thoughts the majority of the time. If you’ve suddenly become more anxious, that can be an indicator that you need to step away from your current situation and relax. And if stepping away for a day or two doesn’t help, you should never feel hesitant to reach out for professional help from a mental health care provider.
You can’t focus.
You sit down in front of your laptop and try to work — you just can’t get your mind to focus. Instead, your mind wanders from one thought to another and you can’t get any work done.
You feel like you’re moving in slow motion.
Even though you’re up to five cups of coffee a day, or getting the right amount of sleep, you still find yourself feeling sluggish.
You feel disconnected.
If you’re beginning to lose interest in things that once excited you or don’t feel quite as close and connected with loved ones, there’s something wrong. Sometimes, taking a mental health day and clearing your mind can do wonders. Of course, if this feeling persists even after taking time off, it’s highly encouraged that you visit a therapist who can provide the help you need.
You consider quitting on the spot at least once a day.
Everyone has rough days now and then, and the thought of putting in your two weeks notice sounds pretty good. But if the thought of quitting is constant, that’s a sign of a deeper issue. Sometimes, taking a step back and making time for yourself is just what you need to begin falling back in love with your job. And if there’s a greater issue at play where this job truly isn’t the best fit for you, then taking a mental health day allows you the time and space to calmly assess what your next steps should be.
So how exactly should you spend a mental health day?
There is no right or wrong answer. If you’re taking a mental health day, you should intuitively do things that make you feel better. If you’re feeling a little stumped, though, consider these activities to help you recharge.
If you need to relax, get a massage, try a facial mask at home, attend a virtual gentle yoga class, enjoy the fresh air with a walk outdoors, or journal your feelings.
If you need to have some fun, get creative with a paintbrush and canvas, cook or bake something new in the kitchen, take a virtual or socially-distanced dance class, give an old friend a phone call, or watch a new movie.
If you need emotional support, do a video call with close friends or family, or reach out to a therapist. There are many telehealth services and mental health apps (like Talkspace or BetterHelp) that make connecting with a therapist more accessible, even if you don’t have health insurance.
Remember, no one should ever feel afraid to take a mental health day, or feel as if they’re being punished for doing so. Take care of yourself, because you are worth it.
What are some activities you like to do on your day off? Let us know in the comments below!
xx, The FabFitFun Team