How to Take a Mental Health Day
Dealing with stress in the workplace
Are you having a stressful time at work? Take a mental health day. Most of us work at stressful jobs with deadlines and heavy workloads. Some of us may also have difficult bosses who could make life miserable. Peers at work could also sometimes give us a tough day. Whatever may be the cause, stresses abound at the work place, and you may just get up in the morning and find that you are not so inclined to go to work. Physical and mental fatigue could leave you drained, with no energy to get to work. This would be the best time to take a mental health day from work. The World Health Organisation defines mental health 'as a state of well-being in which an individual is able to cope up with normal stresses of life’ and ‘can work productively’. This definition gives you a valid reason to take a day off work when you are stressed out and unable to work productively to your full potential.
Take a Mental Health Day - Beat the Stress
Mental health days are not accepted by most organisations. If you tell your boss that you want to take a mental health day off work, you might run into trouble. You would have to plan at least a few days in advance so that you do not put your co-workers into a tight spot, or force them to do your load of the work as well. You may sometimes just wake up with a feeling that you may break down at any moment, and it would be time to take a break by calling in sick.
You really need to slow down, take a deep breath and bring back the balance into your life. Sometimes a single day may not be enough, but it could save you from total breakdown both mentally and physically. A study done on the factors influencing sick leave, showed that psychosocial events may trigger a person calling in sick or taking a mental health day off. This study noted that most people call in sick when they are really ill. This study also pointed out that various factors such as, anticipating a stressful day at work, discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment, conflicts with superiors or peer, unusually high workloads and tight deadlines, were the actual reasons for people calling in sick. This study concluded that the psychosocial work environment did have an effect on individuals calling in sick.
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Why Take a Mental Health Day?
You may need a mental health day when you feel low and stressed out and you need to mentally take a break from the stressful environment. Taking a break will help recoup and recharge yourself so that you can get back to work rejuvenated. It has been noted that highly stressful occupations, like doctors on emergency calls, nurses in the ICUs, etc., find their jobs physically and mentally exhausting. It is often impossible with the kind of workloads they have, to be able to take a day off from work.
Most people continue to work with stress, believing that it will diminish gradually. Instead, it may often lead to a slow build up of tension, which may lead to a volcanic type of eruption. In such situations, it would be sensible to plan or take a day off or even take an unscheduled day off work, so you could take care of yourself first. Waiting for a vacation would not be advisable during such acute stress situations. Mental health days could help you get a clearer perspective on life.
Often when you are highly stressed, you tend to see things negatively, but having a relaxed day and after having rested for a while, you would see your perception change and you would look at your situation more objectively. When conflicts in interpersonal relationships have become the reason for your stress, a day off would help you see things in the right perspective and handle them better. Letting stress, fatigue and anxiety get to you could not only hinder your productivity, but also lead to a burn out. A mental health day could then become that much needed therapy to reduce stress and prevent break down.
Whatever the cause might be, you need to be free of guilt. Taking a mental health day off and worrying about work does not help at all.
How to Enjoy your Mental Health Day
When you take a mental health day off work, you need to plan your day according to your need. If you are mentally and physically exhausted you would need to sleep, rest and relax so that your body and mind are able to recover from the stress. Planning your day with errands and odd jobs does not help at all.
Some time spent in meditation or using some other form of relaxation techniques, coupled with a massage at a saloon or a spa could really help you unwind. Stress is often reflected in your body in the form of increased blood pressure, palpitations, lack of sleep, lack of appetite, anxiety, etc. When you physically relax, you can stop the negative effects that stress has on your body.
A complete change of scene may be needed to mentally and emotionally relax yourself. A leisurely walk in a park, or a day spent with your friend at something you enjoy doing, or just spending the day gardening or whatever hobby you enjoy, could take your mind off the stressful factors at work and keep it focused on something that is enjoyable and more pleasant.
Benefits of Taking a Mental Health Day
Taking a mental health day reduces stress, gives you time to recuperate physically and mentally from the stressful environment. It helps increase your ability to perform to your potential, bring back a balance into your work life, and prevent burn out and help you to recharge your batteries fully.
What NOT to do on a Mental Health Day
Do not load your mental health day with work. Travelling too far away from home may backfire by making you feel more tired. Stop the guilt trips. Plan a day of fun or rest depending on what your need is. Do not call your office and keep checking with your peers.
Taking a mental health day may be the only way for some people to make time for themselves. You can make it whatever you want it to be as long as you return refreshed and ready to accept the challenges of work and everyday life.
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