Self-care is very important – it allows you to take care of not only your most basic physical human needs (hygiene, exercise, eating, drinking water, sleeping), but also your mental wellness (taking a break from work, meditation, reading).
Many people, however, view self-care as unnecessary and self-indulgent. When it comes to mental health a lot of us may be more hesitant to take some time off. For one thing, there’s still a stigma about mental health issues, and we’re often made to believe that emotional well-being isn’t as important as physical health.
However sometimes taking a mental health day—a day off for stress relief and burnout prevention—is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Remember that you can’t give 100% if your aren’t 100%.
How do you know when you need a mental health day?
In general you might consider time off when you’re feeling burnt out beyond capacity and when something in your life is bothering you so much that it’s affecting your focus and productivity.
These are some warning signs to look out for:
• Physical: having constant colds and flus, headaches and migraines, major body tension issues (e.g. back or neck pain), significant weight loss or weight gain
• Mood: feeling angry, irritable, low frustration tolerance, reactive, tearful or anxious.
• Behaviour: away, disconnecting from others, not feeling like you’ve got much energy to devote to work, performance changes, making simple errors, mind being off the job, having more accidents, being more irritable or grumpy with colleagues.
• Thoughts: feeling disillusioned, discontent, feeling pessimistic or negative.
How a day off can help
Taking a mental health day lets you recharge, resets your perspective, and allows your body and mind to rest.
Long-term mental health issues need professional attention, but if you’re just feeling generally tired, overwhelmed and emotionally drained, then a day off to recharge will undoubtedly do you good. Time away from your source of stress will give you time to breathe, rest, reflect – and sometimes come up with a new solution for any issues you’re having.
How you should spend your day
There’s no one way to spend a mental health day. Maybe what you need is to catch up on sleep, see a supportive friend or attend a yoga class.
Take that time to nurture yourself, be kind to yourself and maybe get some exercise, which is really good when people are feeling stressed.
Here some good methods to spend your day off
• Catch up on sleep
• Mindful meditation (MM)
• Connecting with friends/family
• Reach out to a professional/therapist
Taking a mental health day can improve your functionality and overall health as long as it is done the right way. You should avoid feeding negative habits such as continuing to stress. As much as you may want to, try not to spend the day vegging out and catching up on all the shows you never have time to watch from working such long hours!
Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally when you’re struggling with a mental illness is vital.
One mental health day won’t fix all your problems, but it could help you feel more confident in tackling the rest of your week, month, and whatever else lies ahead.