How Many Mental Health Days Can I Take?
Taking a mental health day can be an important part of protecting your own mental health. It can also help employers build a mental health-friendly culture at work.
Taking time off to decompress and refuel is important, especially for people who are at risk for burnout or depression. It’s a good idea to give yourself what you need, says Michele Nealon, a clinical psychologist.
Taking a Mental Health Day
Whether you work full-time, part-time or freelance, it’s important to make time for self-care. It’s a way to relieve stress, relax, recharge and get better sleep. Taking time off can also help you avoid burnout, which can cause you to feel tired and overwhelmed.
A mental health day is similar to a sick day, but it doesn’t have to be for a physical illness. Many advocates recommend it as a way to take care of your emotional wellness.
In the workplace, this can be especially important, as work-related stressors can make existing mental health problems worse. It can also increase your risk of developing depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses.
When you need to take a mental health day, the first thing you should do is talk to your supervisor. If you feel comfortable sharing your concerns, he or she may be more understanding and supportive.
But remember, this isn’t an excuse to skimp on your work. Your employer is likely expecting you to be at your best, so a mental health day should be used as a chance to give yourself some rest and re-energize.
Ideally, your mental health day should be about a 24-hour period. Depending on your needs, that might mean an hour or two away from a stressful situation, a long walk in the woods, or a night out with friends.
For kids, a mental health day might be needed if they’re having trouble with a school assignment or project, are feeling stressed about going to class, or are facing everyday stress at home. It can also be a good option when they’ve been dealing with an illness or trauma, or are struggling with anxiety and other mental health conditions.
Like adults, children need a mental health day when they’re feeling drained or stressed. They might need to stay at home to take care of themselves, or they could need a mental health day to see a counselor or other mental health professional. They might also need a mental health day if they’re experiencing problems at school, or have been having trouble with their friends.
Taking time off for self-care, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, can do wonders for your mental health and well-being. That’s why business owners should be encouraging employees to take care of their own mental health, just as they would for their physical health.
Whether it’s a vacation, an afternoon at the spa or a day at the beach, it’s important to do what makes you feel the best and recharge your batteries. You can’t do that if you’re constantly feeling anxious or depressed.
It’s also a good idea to practice self-care every day. Some examples of this are eating a healthy breakfast, drinking water throughout the day, and getting enough sleep at night.
Other forms of self-care are doing things that make you feel better and improve your quality of life, such as spending time with friends, volunteering, or doing a new activity. These can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy levels.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, practicing meditation can be an effective way to calm your mind and reduce your stress levels. There are free apps and resources online that can help you practice mindfulness, including breathing exercises.
Another type of self-care that can be beneficial for your mental health is creative self-care. It can be anything from writing in a journal or coloring therapeutic adult books to picking up a knitting needle and doing some sock-knitting.
The important thing is to find something that helps you focus your attention on yourself, says Alison Lavella, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Atlanta. “Creative activities like drawing, painting, or sculpting are a great way to unwind and let your mind wander,” she says.
In general, you should try to spend a minimum of one mental health day each month doing something that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. This could be something as simple as finding a volunteer opportunity that nourishes your spirituality, or spending time with people who inspire you.