Taking a mental health day, under that name, is a relatively new concept. Still, it’s safe to say that employees and entrepreneurs have been utilizing some aspects of the practice even before it received its name. Nowadays, people tend to think that taking a mental health day is an unnecessary frivolity. But is that the case?
Today’s work conditions are becoming much more taxing and demanding than they were only a few decades ago. With the amount of stress we undergo daily at work, it’s hard to expect an employee to keep performing at their highest operational standard consistently without rest. Here’s how taking mental health days can help employees manage their work life and restore balance:
What Does It Look Like When You’re Overworked?
Taking a mental health day should be your primary defense against becoming overworked, or experiencing burnout. Unfortunately, many workers, especially entrepreneurs, ignore the signs of work-related stress, exhaustion, and strain. That leads them to stressful situations.
Without enough rest and taking care of your mental health, you’re bound to experience some of these signs. You might wake up in the morning feeling panicked about the amount of work that you have. You might find yourself taking longer to complete tasks that used to be easy for you. You might even notice that you can’t work on the level that you used to be capable of. That’s what being overworked looks and feels like — a steady decrease in performance until you reach burnout.
Does Taking Care of Your Mental Health Mean You Have a Mental Illness?
People tend to find reasons not to take mental health days, and sometimes they fight the idea by bringing mental illness into the discussion. As the argument goes, having to take a mental health day should be reserved for employees who have mental illnesses — not for those that don’t.
Mental health days often connect to emotional and psychological issues, but in their definition, they shouldn’t be. They’re a tool to stay balanced and able to perform your best at work every day. Mental health is our mental well-being, and it can be jeopardized by the stresses of day-to-day life — not exclusively by mental illness, which requires therapy.
What Does Taking a Mental Health Day Mean?
Taking a mental health day means taking a day off from the stresses of work. It’s time you should use to get yourself balanced and ready to work again so that you could perform better. How you spend it is up to you. It’s also up to you to determine when you need to take a mental health day, but a suitable method is watching for the signs of being overworked. If you find yourself struggling to handle the strain of finishing everything you need to get done, then it’s probably time to stop what you’re doing and refocus.
Mental health days allow you to stop and give yourself time to recuperate. However, it doesn’t mean taking time off so you could do nothing whatsoever. Most of the time, what you need is to dedicate your time to your well-being for a day. Doing some light activities, making better plans and schedules, analyzing your work-life balance, and finding solutions for it — those are all experiences that you can take during a mental health day. You wouldn’t be able to be so dedicated to your well-being if you dismissed mental health days as unnecessary.
How Important Is Your Mental Health for Your Job?
Unfortunately, employees and business owners alike tend to have a hard time learning their mental health is essential. To clarify, we all know that it is, but when the time comes to prioritize it, we put something else first. How does one justify taking time away from their job, if they’re not sick or have any other “legitimate” reason?
It is especially tricky for hard-working and driven employees and entrepreneurs and those who run their businesses. If they stop, the company itself stops — or so they feel. Absence from work has to justify, and even if it does, they’ll still stress about not working when they think they should. Unfortunately, this type of driven worker usually learns how important mental health is the hard way, once they reach burnout and find themselves unable to work.
Mental health might be the most crucial factor that influences how well you can do your job. By skipping rest days, you’ll save yourself a day here and there, but once the stress starts accumulating, the loss of your productivity will amount to many more hours than you would have “lost” by taking a mental health day. If it keeps you healthy, mentally stable, and ready for the challenges of the day, then it’s worth it.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Mental Health Days?
Once you look at the issue that way, it becomes clear what the benefits of taking a break are. Avoiding harmful consequences of too much work and too much stress like burnout is extremely important. Burnout takes you out of the game for much longer than one day every once in a while.
However, it’s important to note that if you find yourself having to take a rest day quite often, there’s probably a more profound issue you should find and treat. Ideally, having a mental health day when you need it should delay or eliminate any harmful consequences of being overly stressed. Think of them as your mental health maintenance tool, and always remember that by giving yourself attention and self-care now, you are avoiding a much worse outcome in the future.
Taking a mental health day is a good practice that helps you avoid burnout and overexertion at work. It’s imperative for it to become both more acceptable and more respected in the work environment, as time off with a specific purpose.
Mental health days aren’t insignificant, and they shouldn’t be delayed for the sake of more work. That only leads to problems that can accumulate with time, leaving an employee unable to do their best work.