Taking A Mental Health Day
Mental health is just as important as physical health. We typically do not take sick days when we need them, ++ we especially do not take mental health days.
Taking a day off will give you a chance to reset + come back to work refreshed + ready to work. Mental health days shouldn’t be used as a default coping mechanism for stress though. If you’re feeling like you have a need for multiple mental health days a month, you may need to dive deeper into your environment + identify stressors.
- Completing tasks is taking longer than usual
- You dread going to work // classes
- You’re constantly thinking + worried about work or classes while at home
- You feel irritable + annoyed at little things [finding yourself snapping at co-workers, significant other, or friends]
- You’re having trouble sleeping
- You’re losing interest in your work
1] Give Yourself Permission
If you force yourself to take off, but don’t commit to giving yourself a break, you will be stressed during your time off anyways! We need to eliminate this guilt we feel about calling off — there’s no need to lie to ourselves [or our bosses] about taking sick days. You aren’t required to explain yourself on how you use your PTO. We love this example of an employee being open about her PTO days.
If you’re a student, utilize any *free* skip days your classes give you. Missing one session of a class will not be the end of the world! In the workforce, your paid time off will probably include vacation, sick, +/or personal days. When days are categorized like this, it can be difficult to take those sick days for mental health reasons as we often think “what if I actually get sick.?!” Being *sick enough* to take a sick day not only equates to physical sickness. In fact, having mental health problems can even create physical sickness if not taken care of.
2] Plan In Advance
One way that you can feel less guilty about taking a mental health day is to plan it in advance. Then, you can arrange for your classmates to take notes for you or catch you up on anything you missed. This might not always be possible in the workforce, but by giving your work notice of a day or a few hours you expect to be gone. This way, your coworkers won’t be missing you or planning meetings while you expect to be out. In addition, planning out your mental health days will keep you aware of how many days you are needing + taking. While there is no *normal* amount of days you should be taking, ~one every month or so is a good average. If you wake up one morning + feel extremely stressed, think about if having the day off will really help you in that situation — you don’t want to create a habit of taking off + staying in bed as a “mental health day” every time you’re feeling off.
3] Request A Day
If you’re planning on missing a class, email your professor to ask what you’ll be missing. Most professors will be understanding of a mental health day. The way you request off for a mental health day as a post-grad will depend on your workplace culture. In some offices, like in the example above, sharing your feelings of being burnt out will be accepted + welcomed. Some people may not be so lucky though [this is something I’d recommend looking for in a company when thinking about accepting a job]. As therapist Julieann Ipsan, LCSW-C of Fredrick Psychology Center’s explains, “It is vital to assess if your company + work culture is open to the idea of mental health days. If asking + explaining details will ultimately create more stress, it’s better to take a sick day with no explanation of the mental health needs.”
Not every mental health day will look the same! When planning your day off, try to think about what your mind // body are really craving + do things that will be the most beneficial. Some examples can include:
Rest + Relaxing
- If you’re exhausted, give your body some rest, even just taking a nap can help!
- Taking a walk or hike
- Taking a yoga class
- Getting a massage
Fun + Excitement
- Do something you know makes you happy, for me, this is baking.
- Do something you’ve always wanted to try
- Set up a hangout with a friend
- Watch tv or a movie
Accomplishment + A Sense Of Calm
- Do a deep cleaning of your apartment // house
- Go grocery shopping or meal prep
- Get a head start on any assignments coming up
Taking one day off might not solve underlying issues such as extreme burnout or a toxic // stressful environment, but a mental health day can be beneficial for a regroup + reCHAARG ; )