Why Should You Take a Mental Health Day Off?

While there is a lot of information out there about physical health and there is stigma-free access to healthcare when it comes to our bodies, not as much emphasis is placed on mental health. But it should be. World Mental Health Day is just around the corner on 10th October and there is no better time to be talking about psychological well-being.

The concept of sick leave has been around for a long time where employees can take time off work to address health needs or address a private matter, but this rarely covers psychological health needs. In the past, sharing with someone at work that you are feeling burned out or need to rejuvenate may not have been seen favorably or perceived as an excuse to slack off work. Thankfully, times are changing. Now it is becoming increasingly acknowledged that everyone needs a break sometimes and that our mental health needs space of its own. Many modern corporate workspaces are thus promoting mental health days from time to time, which in fact improves productivity, enhances employee satisfaction, and substantially reduces workplace burnout.

But how do you know when you should take a mental health day? Look for the signs; they are likely to tip you off on when you need some time off. Identify if and when you are facing a few or all of the following:

  • You feel overburdened or overwhelmed and emotionally drained
  • You are having trouble concentrating, feeling restless and distracted
  • You feel easily irritable with others around you
  • You are experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety
  • You notice you are falling sick more often, or have more headaches or gastrointestinal problems
  • Your performance at work or at home is suffering

We have lived for a long time in a work culture that emphasizes productivity, hence it may take some time for employees to get used to the idea of taking a mental health day off. Some may even feel guilty for taking time off for emotional needs. But you shouldn’t. Mental health days are meant for much-needed rest and relaxation. It is an act of self-care that will in fact allow you to refresh, rejuvenate, and realign yourself with your needs. It is important to take this time off. Here’s why:

  • Just taking some time off will allow your mind to calm down and combat feelings of stress and overwhelm.
  • Investing some time in yourself is also good for workplace productivity because you can perform better and less likely to make errors when you are back in action after feeling refreshed.
  • A mental health day gives you the time and space to reconnect with important aspects of your life outside of work such as your relationships, interests, and your own self.
  • Research shows that workplace burnout can have serious negative effects like depression and anxiety. Mental health days act as a protective factor.
  • It promotes a good work-life balance and enhances your coping skills.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Psychological well-being is integral to all-round wellness. While it is important to make the effort to incorporate little rituals into every day to make it better, whether it’s by taking a 10-minute post-lunch stroll, or reading something humorous or connecting with a friend over a call, it’s still important sometimes to take a whole day to yourself. Don’t hesitate. Take a break and take stock of your needs. It doesn’t make you weak to take a mental health day.  Rather, it shows that you take your own wellbeing seriously. Go ahead and take the day off without guilt; you deserve some self-care and both your mind and body will thank you for it.