We all need it – but, what do you do once you have it?
If you’re struggling with how to most effectively use a mental health day, take a read and discover how to make the day count.
Is it the right time?
Determining when to take a mental health day is largely a matter of opinion – but there’s a difference between your usual day-to-day pressures and a build-up of stress that affects your work performance.
Despite not being physically sick, your body will often be telling you in other ways when you need to be taking a break. Stress, anxiety, tiredness and trouble concentrating can all be signs of burnout, so listen up.
Stop the guilt
We all need them – so why the big deal? Unless you’re a robot, mental health days give us the opportunity to switch off, recharge our batteries and reset our mindset. Feeling guilt at not being physically ill or bedridden only adds to the stress you’re already trying specifically to avoid.
If you can, try to organise a mental health day off in advance so you’re not spending time worrying about your workload. Planning also enables you to choose a quieter period, or a time in which you don’t have stressful deadlines looming. However, if you find yourself waking up and not ready to face the day, a mental health day may be on the cards. Go with your instinct and when the time comes to use one, do it without guilt.
Turn off the work notifications
On the subject of guilt, spending half the day checking your emails and responding to non-urgent work-related material is no way to spend a mental health day. Turn off your notifications and log out of any work accounts. This day is about you – your emails will still be there when you return.
Spend your day positively recharging
There’s no wrong or right way to spend a mental health day, however it might be worth thinking about ways to reduce and minimise your stress levels.
Although it may be tempting to spend your entire day on the couch playing catch up with TV, try some different methods of relaxation. When used to its advantage, a mental health day can be the perfect opportunity to give your mind and body what it’s craving the most, so try incorporating some anxiety and stress relieving activities into your day. Spending time with friends, a workout, going out for a meal, getting a massage and catching up on sleep can all be effective in reducing physical and mental tension, leaving you feeling more positive and energetic.
Use it to make some changes
If you’re looking for long-term solutions to the stressors of life that seem to keep popping up, you may want to take a day off to restructure things. Start by creating a list of things that are creating stress or draining energy and start finding ways to eliminate them. List your priorities, and with mental health and wellbeing in mind, determine whether they are helping or hindering.
Sometimes, the simplicity of an open schedule is more than enough to stop the feeling of being overwhelmed. Keep in mind a mental health day is for doing the things you want to do, not what you have to do, so embrace your day.
When you need more than a day
If you find your mental health days aren’t leaving you feeling any better, it might be time to start zoning in on underlying issues. Is it your work, workplace or something bigger? Make an appointment with a health professional and let them know exactly how you’re feeling.
Prioritising your mental health is key for happy and healthy living – and as the workplace is such a big part of our day to day lives, making sure you’re in a good headspace is essential.
Want to read more about what’s going on in mental health?
The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association is a non-for-profit community of mental health professionals, industry workers and individuals interested in the ever expanding field of mental health.
Membership is FREE and when you join, you receive an e-news update every six weeks, keeping you up to date on industry news, advice, wellbeing articles and trending topics in the realm of mental health. Sign up here!