A mental health day is a good way to relax and recharge. It’s one of our best ways to stay healthy.
Monday night comes around quickly. You start getting ready for work early so you can get out the door on time. By 7:30 a.m., you’re running late and you’re feeling anxious about being behind schedule.
Your mind races through what you’ll say if someone asks why you were late. You know you shouldn’t worry about things like that, but your nerves won’t let go. You try to focus on something else, but you just keep thinking about how much you hate Mondays.
It sounds familiar? You’re not ill, but you need a break from work.
Regardless if someone has mental illness or not, everyone needs to take some time to relax and recharged. While most companies don’t offer mental wellness day offs, there are some that do. It’s not the norm though.
Today’s culture makes people feel they must always be working hard. They stay late at the job to finish up tasks. Instead of eating a real meal during their breaks, they eat a snack. It’s no wonder burnout is now considered an “occupational” condition.
“The idea that you can operate continuously for 24 hours a day without any breaks or rest periods is simply incompatible with human physiology.”
If we don’t recognize the importance of slowing down and attending to our own health, we’re heading down a destructive course.
A recent survey conducted online by mental health application Shine found that 95 percent of respondents thought taking a mental health break would improve their productivity at the office, but only 28 percent of them felt comfortable requesting a mental health break. Therein lays the problem.
“Recognise that intentionally prioritizing time for self care isn’t being selfish; instead, it’s recognising that this is the best approach to keeping yourself healthy, functional, etc., so you’re able to be there for others when they need you.”
When is it time for a mental health break?
Don’t wait until you’re at rock-bottomed before you start making changes. Be aware when you’re running out of gas so you can take action.
Do a run through of your life to see if you are seeing any yellow flag behaviors. Some examples include not being able to sleep, drinking too much coffee, becoming angry easily, or starting to feel depressed.
If you notice any of these things happening or begin to experience any other unhealthy behaviors, it may be time to take a mental break.
Don’t let yourself reach the red flag zone, which can lead to panic attack symptoms, depression, or substance abuse.
If you want to take a mental break, make sure your employer benefits from it, too.
When you recognize that taking a mental break is needed, it’s important to assess your current situation, determine what needs to be done right away and what can wait until later, and assure your supervisor that no matter when you take your mental break, you will complete everything by the end of the day.
You can also ask for an extension on any tasks that aren’t urgent.
If you’re trying to convince your boss to let you take off for an entire day, say something along the line of, “I will be more useful to our company and more effective at achieving our goals if I can spend time doing something else.” Your boss will definitely see the value in that.
You may want to think about having a system in place where people who need you immediately can get hold of you by phone rather than sending an email.
“Do whatever works best for you.” So if you want to be happy, then just do whatever makes you happiest.
We must get permission from both our bosses and ourselves before taking the breaks we deserve.
“Identify your needs ahead” of time and write them all down. What does your body, heart, and brain require?
What does your life truly crave? Write these things down. Then, find ways to make them happen. Know what you want before you begin.
You don’t need to spend hours doing things that aren’t scientifically proven to be good for you if they’re not going to help you feel better.
How to Have the Perfect Mental Health Day Then?
Here are some suggestions:
Siegel and Harrison both agree: There is nothing quite so restorative as physical activity. When people exercise, they are able to do better mentally, cognitively, and emotionally.
Exercising lowers your level of stress hormones which can help relieve your symptoms of depression. Endorphin release during an intense workout can boost your mood and may even alleviate physical pain. Any kind of regular activity will provide you with similar benefits. However, some studies show that high-impact activities (like running) seem to be better for reducing depressive symptoms than low-impact ones (like walking).
Furthermore, exercising can help you get a good nights rest — what better way to begin a physical health day than with some quality time spent working out?
Fresh air and sunshine can be great therapy, according to Harrison and many studies. It’s helpful to get out into nature when you’re spending so much of your life indoors.
Take advantage of your day off to reclaim space in the great outdoors rather than in an office. Research shows a connection between being near green spaces and lower levels of stress and anxiety.
A new research has shown that even just 20 minutes spent outdoors can result in increased levels of happiness. Additionally, the sun provides you with Vitamin D and can help boost serotonin levels, which can then lead to improved moods.
It’s always easier to exercise when it’s warm out, so if you can spend a few moments outdoors during the warmer seasons, you’ll be able to enjoy some health perks.
Mindfulness means different things to different people, but at its core, it’s all about paying attention to yourself and being fully present in the moment. You can practice mindfulness through small mindful moments or by doing a full-fledged meditative exercise.
When you’re taking a walk, incorporate a “sensory experience” by noticing five different senses. You could notice the sights (the trees), sounds (birds chirping), smells (flowers), touches (grass), tastes (water) and feelings (wind). Being in a sensory experience helps you come back into the present.
You can eat mindfully by focusing on the flavor and texture of each bite. Eating slowly helps you return your brain to a more relaxed state.
There are lots of different ways to practice mindful breathing, including simply taking deep breaths, focusing on your breath, or doing slow, controlled breathing exercises.
And studies show that practicing these techniques can help you cope better with stressful situations, lower your anxiety, and increase your focus and concentration.
Mindfulness isn’t something that you can put into practice once and then forget about. It has to be practiced every day.
Let’s be realistic. You probably aren’t enjoying yourself at work if you’re thinking about calling in sick today. When you’re not feeling well, make an effort to rest and relax. Take care of yourself so you can feel better tomorrow.
Don’t let stress build up without letting someone know what’s bothering you. Talk to family members, friends, co-workers, or anyone else who might understand. They may offer advice or help you find ways to cope.
If you’re not already having fun at work, then you might want to think about trying something else. There’s evidence that suggests that engaging in creative activities can be beneficial for your mental health.
You can take advantage of any opportunities to participate in fun things if you’re feeling down or stressed out. Research has shown that doing so can help improve your mood.
Burnout can happen to anyone who works too hard without taking breaks. You might feel stressed out, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
But if you recognize these signs early enough, you can prevent burnout and reduce your workload so you’re able to relax and recharge.
When you do get burned out, try to slow things down and give yourself a break. Taking regular breaks helps keep you focused and energized throughout the day.