Research shows that a majority of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress and mental health issues. Demanding bosses, snippy coworkers, unending gossip, multiple crises, answering email day and night. Anyone would feel frazzled—or burnt out. That’s why mental health days are so vital. They’re a great way to reset and restore our sense of balance. Even one day off can make a huge difference.
Taking care of our mental health is not a whim, it’s a necessity. Mental stress can and does lead to physical health issues. Anyone suffering from the flu would take time off. So don’t feel guilty if you’re suffering from overwork and need a mental health day to relax, get your head out of your issues, and return to work in a more optimistic frame of mind.
If you’re uneasy about taking a day for yourself, know that a supportive boss will likely understand when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just make sure your tasks are covered before you take that PTO day. If you believe the boss would never understand, you may need to take a vacation day or a sick day. But don’t feel you must explain in detail why you need a day off.
Can’t afford to take an entire day? Perhaps you can leave early, carve out a longer-than-usual lunch, or (gasp) leave on time—even if you’re working from home. Additionally, if your organization offers mental health resources like classes on mindfulness or health and wellness, take advantage of them.
Here are some of the best things to do on your mental health day: Have fun. Read a book, see a movie, visit a museum … take a yoga or exercise class … pamper yourself … take a walk … engage in a hobby …. spend time with family or friends … sleep! Anything that helps you destress.
Remember that this is not a day to smoke, drink, overeat, dwell on negatives, or scroll through social media. If you must think about work, list things that drain your energy—with an eye to making changes when you return.
Last, but not least, don’t feel guilty about taking a mental health day. Prioritizing your mental health and well-being is a necessity, so make the most of your time off!