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.

Mental Health Day
Mental Health Day | Source

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.

Have you ever taken a mental health day off work ?

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How did you feel at the end of your mental health day?

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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.

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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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Comments 25 comments

Sage in a Cage profile image

Sage in a Cage 4 years ago

Great hub. I'm a psychologist and too often see the effects of stressful work environments on people who are finding life overwhelming. I don't know if I would tell my clients to just take a day off work but I totally agree that there needs to much more of a balance between home and work life!


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

Great idea, now we just need to sell it to all our bosses! I think it's far better to nip a problem in the bud by having a small amount of time off rather than hanging on until you have a full blown bout of depression.

Voted up etc.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe

Yes yes - take the day off. Better to let a little steam then to pop your cork from too much stress. I think most bosses agree in principle, but it's a don't ask, don't tell kind of thing. Great topic, and very timely. I personally can't say that I miss the corporate days at all - give me the freelancing life! Well done :) Voted Up and Interesting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I think you are spot on! Constant stress can have a bad impact on your health. Very useful hub.


denisemai profile image

denisemai 4 years ago from Idaho

Great ideas. I would probably hide in my house, though because I would feel so guilty. Mental health is as important as physical well-being!


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Sage in a cage, Welcome to Hubpages. LOL, I might go ahead and advice someone to take a mental health day if the stress is acute.. but then,I would be cautious about giving it as a general advice to everyone. Thanks for the follow and the comment. Have a great day.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Judi Bee.. I agree with you, dealing with a problem and nipping it off in the bud does sound practical and sensible. I would prefer that people plan at least a couple of days in advance and take the day off, if possible. Whatever people do, they need to balance their life. Thanks for stopping by to comment. Have a lovely day!


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

EuroCafeAuLait, You may be right about most bosses agreeing in principle, but no one wants to risk saying 'take a mental health day' and cause a chaotic situation in the work place. Thanks for the comment, I appreciate that. Have a wonderful day.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Pamela99, Thanks for the endorsement. I appreciate that. Have a beautiful day :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Years ago I had a boss that was a really nice guy, and one day he saw how stressed out I was. He told me to take the next day off as a mental health day. I wish there were more bosses like that around.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe

Me too. I needed two days off in a row to attend a special weekend training seminar unrelated to my job. My boss said "just call in sick" and it went fine. It was no sweat off her back, because I worked ahead and covered my load in advance. You reminded me of that, thanks Susan!


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA

The Drug and Alcohol clinic where I worked had an annual, mandatory mental health day. The clinic paid for all of us to go to the lake and spend a day with each other - shopping, sightseeing, having lunch, and getting pictures taken at the "old-timey" booth. I thought it was a great way for an employer to show that they value their employees, and it helped to build better relationships in the workplace, too.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia

Mental health is possibly more important than physical health yet there is still such stigma surrounding it. Mental Health Day is an innovative first step. Great article Sofs.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

This hub is a must read for everyone, Sofs. Stress is, in a way, a silent killer in our society, and can manifest itself in so many negative ways. I only wish that more employers would learn to recognize this and take the appropriate steps to help circumvent mounting stress levels within work environments whenever possible. For example, too many people are forgoing vacation time in exchange for vacation pay. Voted up and more.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I have taken a few mental health days as needed and it helped to refresh my mind and body. I think it is a good practice to make when needed, you are not working your best if you are constantly stressed.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Just Ask Susan, Wow! if there were more bosses like yours we would probably not need to take mental health days. Yes, there are good bosses, but we need to learn to find our balance. Thanks for the comment appreciate that. Have a lovely weekend.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

EuroCafeAuLait, Cool :) It is really wonderful to have bosses who understand .. I guess that takes the stress off the workplace. Thanks for stopping by to share your experience. Have a lovely weekend.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

jellygator, a mandatory mental health day would be ideal... I would love to work in such a place, but I guess it would mean a huge loss of man days and erratic work practices for huge organisations. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Have a nice weekend.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Karanda, Thanks for emphasizing on that.. The stigma is more so in the third world countries... I wish there was more awareness on the importance of mental health to personal and social functioning. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I appreciate that very much. Have a fantastic weekend.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Genna That is such an important point.. and I am so glad that you brought it up here. People sometimes do not understand the need for achieving a balance in life. True, money is not everything. I hope more people take time off work to find peace and balance in their lives. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Have a beautiful weekend.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

teaches12345, I agree we just cannot be our best when we are stressed.. It is okay to take a mental health day. All of us need a break sometimes. I appreciate your well thought out comments. Have a lovely weekend.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

What a great hub topic, Sofs. I completely agree with it and have always advocated this. It's funny how so many people do not understand the importance of this. Even when my children were young and in junior and senior high school, I would allow them a 'M.H. Day' if needed. To me, it was not playing hookie. It was teaching them to recognize the need to take care of themselves and the permission to do so. Voted up and IMPORTANT--oops, no such button. Okay-useful.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Denise, Thanks for voting it up and useful. I agree there needs to be more awareness among people for the need to take a mental health day. I have done it a couple of times earlier, I wouldn't hesitate in the future too as long as I do it responsibly. Thanks for adding your views to this hub.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

I learned to take mental health days to relieve stress and get extra sleep. It's good to avoid Fridays or the days before/after major holidays, as those are a little suspect. I have found that migraines can be a good excuse. Once I learned to do this on occasion, it made me sorry I hadn't done it previously.


Cj Sarff profile image

Cj Sarff 2 years ago from Springfield, Illinois

I'm attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation. They accept all religions, dogmas, sects, or other identifiers without ever asking what you believe in. I like their meditation groups, two nights a week, and their monthly drum circle. Those are mental health day activities for me, and I attend them on evenings when I'm not scheduled to work. I also find writing for HubPages a source of pleasure, not work. I get to tell all about things for which I have a passion. That is actually an outlet for my mind that wants to go 500 mph. I like your articles, by the way.

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