Are you feeling run down; stressed out; a bit blah? It may be a good time to take a mental health sick day. Also known as personal days, it’s a day where you ultimately “chuck a sickie”, so you can focus on recharging your brain and body, so you don’t ultimately run yourself down so much that you are at risk of being diagnosed with a mental illness. So, how can you go about taking a personal day, what do you actually do on the day, and how can you tell if you need just a day, or if your mental wellbeing needs some help.
What do you do on a personal day?
What do you actually do on your mental health day? In all honesty, it’s best if you avoid vegging out on the couch and watching Netflix, as you’re just masking the problem, rather than fixing it. This is a day where you can treat yourself; run a bubble bath, read a book and listen to music. Wrap yourself up in your duvet and make up for lost sleep. Sleep is one of the most important facets of your mental health, and if you’re losing sleep or you’re racking up sleep debt, now is the time to catch the snooze train. Make sure you’re sleeping in your bed, on your memory foam mattress, rather than the couch. You don’t want to wake up with a crick in your neck. If you have a pet, keep them company as they sit in their comfy pet bed from MyDeal; confide in them for a bit. Basically, make the day about you. Catch up with a friend, go outside and enjoy the sunshine, and relax.
Applied neuroscientist Michelle Bihary explains what a mental health day is. “A mental health day is usually taken when we are overwhelmed and struggling to cope and need a way to find our equilibrium. The demands of challenging and complex work, takes a toll on our mental and emotional wellbeing. This can impact our brain's ability to think as clearly, make our best decisions and be able to interact with others in constructive ways. The need for a mental health day can be intensified by other stressors at work or in our personal lives. The benefit of a mental health day is to strengthen the foundation our well being. In particular, we can decompress and recalibrate, put things into perspective and regain our mental and emotional wellbeing. This allows us to return to work refreshed and energised.” Find out more about Michelle Bihary by following her on LinkedIn.
What to tell your boss
Here’s the tricky part. Not everyone’s boss is as accepting of mental health, or discussing the idea of a personal day, so sometimes it is actually in your best interest to lie. I’m not saying you should go all Ferris Bueller here, but you can always just say that you’ve got a migraine or that you’re feeling rundown. Another pretty safe bet is to say you need to take a day off for “personal reasons”. If your boss is a little more open about the idea, be honest. You’re more likely to add to your anxiety if you lie about it, but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
When is it time to see someone about your mental health?
There are only so many times you can take a mental health day before it becomes time to see someone about it. Now, of course, the feelings of stress or anxiety won’t go away overnight, but you should come back feeling at least 30% better than you did before you left. There is the chance that there’s something bigger going on if you don’t feel this way. There is also the chance that you’re becoming addicted to taking time off. If this is the case, it may be wise to talk to someone professional about it.