I was a big proponent on mental health days even before the past two years happened. And now that we know from October’s “Stress in America” survey that work is a very/somewhat significant source of stress for 66% of those surveyed, it’s time to revisit this idea.
First off, mental health days are not for you to avoid your boss after you made a mistake or just don’t feel like listening to your co-workers. They also are not going to magically “cure” burnout and are definitely not a replacement for therapy, but it can give you time to regroup and refresh.
But let’s do a quick check to see if it’s time for you to take one:
- Are you exhausted or can’t sleep?
- Do you dread going to work every day?
- Do you have trouble turning off your mind when you get home?
- Are you more anxious than usual?
- Are you irritable and impatient?
- Are you having trouble focusing?
- Have you stopped caring about your job?
- Are you distracted by something outside of work that needs attention?
Answer “yes” to any of these and you need to keep reading…
Scheduling a Mental Health Day
Depending on the culture and leave policies at your organization, asking off may be as simple as saying “Hey, I need some time off to refresh” or you may have to say you are dealing with a personal matter and leave it at that. You do not have to feel guilty or share anymore than you are comfortable with.
Do try to schedule your day ahead of time so you can prepare your team and ideally after completing a big project so you aren’t stressing about that at home.
If you just don’t think you can ask off, then you can do this on a weekend or paid holiday, but make sure you are taking the day for yourself and not family issues, etc.
What to Do on Your Mental Health Day
What you do depends on what you feel like you need the most. No matter what you need though follow these rules:
- Make a plan
- Actually unplug from work
- Avoid most friends and family
- Stay off social media
- Give your brain a break
- Pick activities you enjoy
18 Ideas for your mental health day:
- Get a massage
- Take a walk
- Have a warm bath
- Listen to music
- Watch TV (unless you do this all the time anyway)
- Hang with a friend (but not the messy ones)
- Get outside
- Go to the beach, mountains, a park, etc
- Tackle your to-do list at home
- Do a skin care routine
- Exercise or play sports
- Order take-out (watch eating too unhealthily though as those foods can affect your mood negatively)
- Organize something (closet, calendar, pantry)
- Go to a museum