Mental Health Days
With school and work responsibilities, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose motivation. These feelings can lead to burnout and stress. A way to stop burnout and renew energy is to take a mental health day. Mental health days are when someone takes time off of school or work to take care of their mental health. These days can be planned or unplanned, but that is not as important. When someone takes a mental health day, there is one goal. It is to remove yourself from your work so you can recharge.
Taking care of your mental health is important. Just like you need to eat healthy foods and take care of your body, you need to take care of your emotional needs. Burnout and stress build up over time or can appear when there is a big project coming up. According to Dr. Hannah Paul, there are a number of feelings that can point to low mental health. These can include:
- Feeling physically run down or noticing you’re catching colds easily
- Daytime sleepiness (like you could nap at any moment, no matter how much caffeine you have)
- Feeling resentful or very irritable
- Tending to react negatively to minor changes or requests
- Low self-confidence or self-esteem
- Feeling foggy, like it’s hard to concentrate
- Being easily distracted and restless
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling uninterested in activities you once loved
- Not keeping up with physical self-care, like showering or brushing your teeth
When you are busy, it is easy to ignore these signs of burnout. This can be harmful in the long run because it is better to deal with these symptoms before they get worse. A couple of reasons people try not to take time off for mental health is to avoid falling behind in work and avoid having to ask their boss or teacher for time off. When looking at productivity, people work better when they have fresh minds and are not stressed out. The World Health Organization ran a global study that showed a trillion-dollar loss every year from lower worker productivity. This was because of anxiety and depressive disorders.
The best way to take a mental health day is to plan it out. This is stress-free and makes it easy to get the time off. Planning also helps you make sure there are no assignments or responsibilities that have to be done. Taking a day off, but still stressing about work responsibilities, takes away the purpose of taking a break. If you can rearrange schoolwork and other responsibilities, then you can make sure there is nothing that has to be done on that day. The least amount of responsibility, the better.
Mental health days can be used to relax, do some self-care, and help prepare you for work when you come back. If you are worried about your teachers or bosses not letting you take a mental health day, you can work around that. Everyone needs mental health days from time to time, and it doesn’t need to be explained. Taking a sick day, using a holiday, or planning to use PTO (paid time off) are ways to take a break without having to specifically ask for one. You can say, “I’m not feeling well and I need to take today off,” and not say anything more. It is important to tell others when you will be gone, but you don’t have to say the reason why. There is no right or wrong way to take a mental health break because everyone destresses in different ways. Going on a walk, cooking, and reading are some examples. Mental health days can be used to make changes in your life, to relax, or to have fun. Doing things to refresh your brain and release stress is important on mental health days. Taking time off to keep up with your mental health will improve your life in every way.
Mental health days are very important to take. No matter how busy you are, if your stress is affecting your mood and your work, it might be time for a break. Some people think that these breaks make them lazy, but that is not true! These breaks help you take care of yourself and focus on your needs. Taking a mental health day when you need it will help keep you happier and able to complete your work.
Maali-Yolanda, a UNR student, wrote this article for Healthy Young NV. This is her fourth year studying biochemistry and sociology, and she is a student ambassador for High Sierra AHEC.