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Living in the modern world and having all of its benefits doesn’t come always without a price. We work long weeks on highly demanding jobs, we are connected all the time and many even take their work home.
All of this leads to anxiety, stress buildup and many other issues that can lead to even more serious problems.
But recent trends show employers often can give their employees days off specifically dedicated to mental health. Learn more about it in this article.
What Does Mental Health Day Mean?
A mental health day is a day off taken to rest, relax or do anything else to improve your mental health. It can mean different things to different people but essentially, it’s the day off that prevents a burnout.
Burnout comes after working too hard for some time, not giving yourself a break.
However, a mental health day can also help with a host of other issues – depression, anxiety, stress overload and so on.
Every employer should offer these days off to their employees and most of them do. This way, they can improve their employees’ motivation and productivity too.
How to Know if You Need a Mental Health Day
Working day after day can be very exhausting, no matter how much you enjoy your job. Taking a day off to address that specifically is just as normal as taking a day off because of a cold.
But first, you need to know how to recognize that you need a mental health day and give yourself permission to take that day off.
Here are some signs that you need a mental health day:
You fear work. Thinking about going to work is causing you stress and anxiety. It’s okay if this happens once in a while but if you fear work every day, it can be a good sign that you should take a day off. However, if this is a pattern, you may want to look into finding a different job or even line of work.
Constantly stressing about work, even when you get home. You get stressed about this. The best idea is to leave work at work and enjoy your life at home. If work takes over, it might be time take a mental health day.
You feel like you’re about to snap – you are easily irritable and snap often at your coworkers, partner, children, family and friends. This is a sure sign of a burnout.
You can’t sleep well. If you have these difficulties, take a day off to address them.
You lost interest in things you used to enjoy. This is a sign of depression as much as it is of a burnout.
When Should You Take a Mental Health Day?
Getting time off whether you are sick or just need to rest is usually one of the included benefits of being a full time employee. Whether you should get a mental health day is one of those things you need to consider thoroughly.
Mental health day involves two different types of time off. One of them addresses pressing mental health issues and another is the type taken when you have a burnout and stress.
If your stress levels have been high for quite some time, you should get professional help from a therapist. You may realize you're suffering from depression and your doctor can help you navigate that.
If you are not suffering from depression but rather from mild anxiety, stress or something similar, a mental health day can be valuable to you as well.
While it sounds tempting to take a mental health day because you just don’t feel like going to work, this could turn out very badly for you. This could end up as a habit and could lead to you losing your job. Rather than doing that, you should plan to take this day off. Don't call in last minute on a whim and take an unexpected day off. Planning in advance is your best bet.
Think about what is causing your stress. Maybe it’s a task that you need to complete or a meeting you don’t feel like going to. In that case, one day off won’t reduce that stress. Plus, not completing it is going to cause you even more stress on your day off.
Plan the activities for the day off and complete all of your tasks, address any issues that may be a source of stress and then take the day off.
You can take a spa day or just a spa afternoon. You can also try:
- Going for a walk or hike
- Practicing yoga
- Meditate; guided meditation can be beneficial
- Address causes of long term feelings of stress
Another way to spend your day off is to handle the sources of stress like paying the bills, cleaning your home, organizing things at home or even completing work tasks. Spend time with your family, friends and so on.
However, keep in mind that a good idea is to organize your life in a way that doesn’t let your stress build up. Walk in the morning, go to a spa every week, shut off your work phone when you get home and so on.
Healthiest Things to Do When Taking the Day Off
When people take a day off for mental health purposes, they might envision spending it in their pajamas in front of a TV or similarly. However, that probably isn't the best way to spend your mental health day off. If you do this while there’s plenty to be done, you will feel just as tired when you go back to work.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Here are some things you can do on your day off
Deal with errands
Days off can be for just relaxing and having fun but in reality, most people will have some stuff that needs to be done on the day off. So, make a list of your errands, finish them all before noon and have the rest of the day to have fun and enjoy. On the other hand, if you plan your day carefully and in advance, you can finish those errands days before your day off and then really enjoy.
The best thing to do when you have a day off is to just be as active as possible. You will relieve a lot of stress, improve your health and so on. Even a gentle walk can help you feel better and have a better quality of life quality. Think about incorporating relaxing walks into your daily life to prevent stress buildup.
Listen to yourself
Some people love being with other people. Some enjoy being on their own. Respect your own needs and feelings no matter how much other people are trying to talk you into doing what they want.
A day off can often result in poor food choices. However, you should not let this happen. Sure, you can have a snack you love or an amazing dessert but you should also eat just as well as you eat when you work or even better.
Organize your day
When you wake up, make sure that you organize your day. Write down the things you have to do and things you want to do. You can do this the night before too, for even more efficiency.
A day off is a perfect day to take a nap. Make it short, set an alarm for half an hour and it can help you be rested and spend your day a lot better.
Don’t use stimulants or drink too much
Stress and burnout can often lead to excessive use of alcohol and other stimulants on your day off. However, if you use too much, you can wind up feeling worse than you did before. So, take everything in moderation or even better, replace with healthy stress coping methods.
Have a treat
Treat yourself to a spa day, have a long bath, read a book, have a great snack or do anything else healthy that will make you happy. Dedicate the better portion of the day to that and relax.
Don’t glue yourself to your social media or to devices. Unplug – turn off all social media notification, turn off the TV or even your phone and just be present in your day.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Mental Health?
One of the most important things you need to do is to find ways to handle your mental health on a daily basis, not just on the odd day off. Making these necessary changes will prove valuable for your entire life, both in work and in personal matters.
Here are some tips:
Focus on the positive
Thinking positively can help you have a better, happier life. When we see ourselves negatively, we tend to have a poor quality of life and a lot of stress. However, tell yourself that you are worthy and good. Focus on thinking positively in all aspects of life.
Every day, say what you are grateful for. Maybe it’s for the lovely family you have, great friends, a pet you love, a good home or anything similar. Just being grateful for the things and people you love and that are in your life can help put things in a better perspective.
Don’t over multi-task
Be mindful and present in every moment. Don’t do other things while you work on one of them and don’t reflect on the past or fret about the future. Make it simple by just focusing on the thing at hand.
If you love exercising, do that. But if you hate it like most people do, take a pleasant walk or bike ride instead. Activity is often a great way to relieve stress and has been proven to quickly release those feel-good endorphins.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables every day, drink water and have proper meals instead of quick snacks.
Do you have any tried & true methods for maintaining good mental health? Feel free to share them down below!