What Is a Mental Health Day?

mental health day woman

In a culture that often prioritizes productivity over well-being, the concept of a mental health day is a critically underused tool in your self-care arsenal. Most people understand the importance of staying home from work when physically ill to prevent spreading disease, but the idea of taking a day off solely for mental well-being is still gaining acceptance in the U.S. – one of the world’s most chronically overworked nations.

Signs You Might Need a Mental Health Day

Mental health days allow you to step back from your typical responsibilities to address your mental and emotional needs. Taking some time off to reset and recharge could be ideal if your inner monologue is mostly negative or you feel burned out and unmotivated.

While a mental health struggle might not manifest physically like a cough or a fever, it can be just as debilitating – and potentially even more contagious in terms of its impact on workplace morale. If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed and irritable, these emotions can ripple through your interactions and adversely affect your colleagues. Moreover, your work quality may decline, causing you to miss deadlines and making you a less reliable employee.

How to Responsibly Take a Mental Health Day

Decide when to take a mental health day based on your best judgment about your current mental state and workload. If possible, adjust your deadlines or arrange for someone to cover your tasks so taking a day off doesn’t create additional stress upon your return.

You should also consider how you communicate your need for a mental health day. If your workplace culture is supportive, setting a positive example by openly taking a day off for mental health can be empowering. However, if you worry about stigma, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell others you’re not feeling your best.

Activities to Consider on Your Mental Health Day

The goal of a mental health day is to engage in activities that rejuvenate and refresh you, not to catch up on chores or run errands. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Do a digital detox: Disconnect from constant notifications and the stress of social media. Consider switching your devices to airplane mode or putting them away for the day.
  • Read for pleasure: Dive into a book purely for the joy of reading, allowing yourself to escape into different worlds and perspectives.
  • Volunteer: Spend time helping others. Volunteering can provide a profound sense of satisfaction and remind you of the broader community you’re part of.

Embracing Mental Health Days

One of the many ways to observe Mental Health Awareness Month this May is to normalize the practice of taking mental health days. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential for maintaining your mental wellness. By allowing yourself to destress and recharge, you’ll benefit your well-being and improve your ability to contribute positively at work and home.

At Rising Roads Recovery, we encourage everyone to recognize the value of mental health care. Consider reaching out for professional help if you are overwhelmed and struggling to cope. Our women’s-only treatment center offers academic and career support, trauma-informed therapies, life skills and more to teach you how to take better care of yourself. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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