Tips for Taking a Mental Health Day Off – Greatist

If Monday dread is consuming your thoughts, maybe you just need a break with a mental health day off.
Taking a mental health day isn’t silly. And it isn’t selfish. Just like a sick day gives your body rest, a mental health day — aka a “sad day” or wellness day — gives your brain a break.
Here’s when and how to take a mental health day off from work.
If you feel like you just can’t take more bad news in this world of *gestures everywhere,* you’re not alone.
Results from a 2020 survey of more than 5,000 American adults found:
Unfortunately, some folks still believe mental wellness isn’t as important as physical health. That’s probably why nearly half of workers say they wouldn’t take a sick day to cope with stress. If you’re one of the hesitant ones, it might be time to reframe your idea of a sick day. Mental health is still health. And chronic stress can have long-term consequences.
Chronic psychological stress can dial up your risk of several conditions later in life like:
To sum it up: Margins are a little thin these days. And there are real, research-backed reasons to focus on stress management. A mental health day can help you rest and reset.
It’s not always obvious when your brain needs a break. Physical symptoms of stress are easier to pinpoint, but there are other signs too.
One of the best ways to avoid nagging coworkers or interrupting work is to schedule your mental health day in advance. That gives you time to delegate your workload or find a substitute if your work requires it (hat tip to the teachers!).
But if you wake up one day and can’t even because of stress and mental overwhelm, it’s also OK to take a last-minute mental health day off. Do what you need to do. The world won’t end if you step away for a day.
It’s also a good idea to know your rights and workplace policies. According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, if you’re at a company of 50+ or have a federal job, you can’t be penalized for taking time off for mental health.
You take a sick day to feel better, right? The same goes for mental health days. This is *not* the time for running errands or squeezing in a dentist appointment. Those are legit activities, but unless that bubblegum-flavored fluoride sparks immense joy, save it for another day.
How you spend your mental health day depends on what you need.
You’re tense. Tired. Oh-so-depleted. Here are a few ways to take back your Zen:
Do you need to just forget work and shake things up, Ferris Bueller-style? Sometimes de-stressing requires a little bit of fun or socialization.
Do you feel stuck on a major life decision? If your stressors are related to identity questions or big-picture issues, a mental health day is a perfect time to recalibrate your priorities.
Taking a mental health day is a temporary fix. It’s not going to solve big, bad issues like a toxic workplace, lackluster work-life balance, or burnout.
And BTW, burnout is an actual medical term. Signs include:
If your work life needs a radical rebuild instead of a single mental health day, there *are* ways to move forward. And they don’t all involve walking out the door.
Some suggestions:
If you’re hesitant to call in sick for your mental health, remember that being healthy and whole requires physical *and* mental wellness. Make self-care a priority.
There are many, many legitimate reasons to take a day off of work for your health:
Whenever possible, look for ways to manage stress before it becomes an emergency. Prioritize sleep, nourishing foods, and daily movement. And if stress, anxiety, or sadness are interfering with your daily life, don’t hesitate to ask a healthcare professional for help.
Last medically reviewed on February 21, 2022



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