When we have a fever, a sore throat or the flu, most of us are pretty good about calling out sick from work and staying home to take care of ourselves. Staying in bed to rest when you're physically ill is a very good idea, but what happens when your mental health is suffering and you need a break?
Back in the day, time off from work was categorized as "sick time", "vacation" and "personal time", but it seems like the era of "personal days" is pretty much over, with everything being lumped into "accrued time" or some other form of accumulated time off. And with time off being so limited for many of us and the race to save up enough vacation time always in the back of our minds, are we now afraid to just take time off for ourselves when we're not physically sick?
Mental Health Days
If I were king of the world, everyone would receive a certain number of personal days off each month, giving workers time to relax, rest, rejuvenate, and care for their mental health in any way they saw fit. But until my election to that position, I'll have to just continue giving advice as a writer and coach.
Taking a mental health day doesn't mean you check into the nearest mental health facility or see your therapist on your day off. Rather, it's a day to stay in bed and read a magazine, go for a long drive, spend the day in your favorite spot in nature, or otherwise take care of yourself when you're not actually sick but just need some time away from the usual demands of your life.
A mental health day will look different for every individual who takes one. What would yours look like?
What are the warning signs that you need a mental health day? Well, that's different for everyone too, but here are a few that I can think of right off the bat:
There are plenty more warning signs, of course, but these should give you some food for thought in terms of your own life.
In this busy world, planning a mental health day may seem like a funny concept, but this is actually serious business. Maybe you need to plan a mental health day in advance, thinking of a day when you can ship the kids off, tell your spouse or partner to take a hike (unless you really want to spend your mental health day with them), and plan something special for yourself.
A mental health day might be, like I said above, a day in nature or a long drive somewhere nice. It might also involve getting a massage, taking yourself to lunch, and then going to a movie! It's up to you.
One fact to keep in mind about mental health days: you should not schedule anything that you don't want to do, and avoid people and situations that will be draining in any way.
So, dear Reader, I challenge you to schedule a mental health day for this summer at a time that works for you. Is your birthday this summer? Is there a day you'd like to set aside for your own well-being? When could it work best? Who do you need to enlist to support your efforts?
Remember that everyone deserves a day to themselves once in a while, and make sure that you get yours. Your mental health is important, and by caring for yourself, you'll be more productive and balanced, and you'll set a healthy example for those around you.
Take a mental health day. You deserve it.