People joke about taking a “mental health day” but sometimes we really do need one.
This doesn’t necessarily have to occur in the middle of a huge work pitch or when half the team are already off sick. There is no need to let everyone down or risk getting fired! But sometimes we do need to listen to our mind and bodies and take some time out. Whether that be from work, home, our worries, or routine.
We all seem to have very busy lives. Many people complain of constantly “chasing their tails” and feeling as though they are perpetually stressed and exhausted. These same people often have anxious thoughts, can become depressed and suffer physically. Prolonged stress has been associated with many health problems including high blood pressure, cardiac problems and even cancer.
It is very important to manage our stress. We need to feel calm and content. It is necessary that our bodies do not feel constantly under physical, emotional and psychological duress.
There are many ways of achieving a sense of peace, happiness and physical wellbeing. These include good physical and mental health, relaxation, meditation, the development of adequate coping mechanisms, a supportive social network, healthy lifestyle in terms of sleep, exercise and diet, good genetics, avoidance of certain high risk situations, satisfaction in life and work, and management of personal expectations.
Let’s focus on one specific way to achieve wellness - taking a “mental health day”!
As suggested, please don’t get yourself fired. You may want to take time out as unpaid leave, a scheduled personal leave day, on a weekend or even for a long lunch. Of course you may just want to “wag” a day from school or work, but that’s entirely your call!
Follow these tips on taking a mental health day and see if you feel more refreshed and one step closer to achieving mental, physical and psychological health.
Plan ahead. Think about what you would most like to do during your time off and endeavour to fit these activities in.
The goals of taking a mental health day are to decrease stress, increase productivity, and attain life balance so keep these in mind and work out how you can best achieve these according to your own personal likes. For example, if you have a particularly active job and then spend your home time running after seemingly hyperactive children, your idea of time out may involve sleeping in, then having a massage and a long bath. Conversely if you sit at a computer all day, you may choose to spend your time off by walking in the fresh air, attending the gym and a yoga class.
If possible, turn off gadgets such as computers and phones to ensure that you achieve “me time” and do not have the office contacting you every 15 minutes.
Lose the guilt. If you have made the decision to have time off, enjoy it without minimising the positive effects by worrying about your decision.
There is of course so much individual variation but some suggestions for how to spend your well deserved mental health day include: reading a book, magazine or newspaper, going to a movie, exercising, sleeping, stopping and “smelling the roses”, listening to music, enjoying food and/or beverages in a café, cooking, singing, surfing the net, visiting friends, pampering yourself with eg a massage, facial, or hair appointment, visiting a place of interest, eg a beach, park, zoo, gallery or museum, drawing, painting, giggling, watching tv, doing something you haven’t done but have wanted to for years, cleaning out a cupboard.
An important suggestion involves exercise. Considerable research has been conducted into the health benefits of remaining fit and healthy. In some studies, exercise has been found to be as effective as anti depressant medication. So it is recommended that you factor exercise into your life…not just on a mental health day but as a part of your regular ongoing routine. The frequency, duration and type of exercise will obviously differ between individuals so work out what is personally suitable.
Enjoy your mental health day and try to factor one in occasionally.