A Mental Health Day Is Not Playing Hooky
By Paul Rothbart
Taking a day off periodically is something most people do. We now have a name for it, the "mental health day." But this is not a euphemism for goofing off. The brain needs time off just as much as the body does. When feeling burnt out, a day off is a good thing and you should not feel guilty about it. You don't go to work with the flu, and feeling less than optimal mentally is every bit as legitimate a reason to stay home. Here is some information on when and how to take a mental health day.
How to Know When You Need One
This can be a tough question. Most people feel that if they are physically healthy enough to work, then they should do so. Why lose a day's pay or burn a sick day? But good mental health is equally important to its physical counterpart, so be aware of your mental state and alert for these signs. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and lacking the ability to concentrate are sure signs a mental health day is needed. These factors will negatively impact your ability to work just as much as a physical illness. It can sometimes be as vague as just feeling "off." The thing to keep in mind is that if, for any reason, you feel mentally unable to perform your job well, take that day off.
How to Tell Your Boss
Part of the guilt of a mental health day is having to call in sick. It may be out of loyalty to your job and boss or out of fear, but either way, it can be unsettling. The thing to keep in mind is that if your job provides sick days, that's what they are there for. Take the day if you need it. When telling your boss, be completely honest that you are not physically sick, but you don't need to give a detailed explanation. Some companies are understanding of the mental health day. But if yours isn't, just tell your boss that you are not up to working that day. Keep it brief and honest. As long as you are not abusing your sick time, your boss will most likely be understanding.
What to Do During a Mental Health Day
Staying in bed on a mental day is not necessary as it often is when you're sick. So, what's a good way to spend it? A mental health day is about getting away from overwhelming tasks, so don't spend it doing housework or other chores unless those things relax you. Do things that you really enjoy, especially those that you don't get to do regularly. Watch that movie you've been meaning to see, catch up on reading or a hobby you enjoy. The idea is to get out of the rat race for a day and just relax. Recharge the batteries. It's called a mental health day for a reason.
The day-to-day grind gets to the best of us every now and then. Taking the occasional day off is necessary for good mental health. Don't overdo it, but don't hesitate to take one when you need it.
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