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Here’s How to Know When You Should Take a Mental Health Day

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. And it couldn’t come at a better time. With the events of 2020 and the looming fear of a possible second wave of COVID in the coming months, it’s understandable that many of us may be feeling uneasy and stressed out.

According to a joint press release from the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health, and the World Federation for Mental Health, “Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. And now, billions of people around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on people’s mental health.”

Between struggling with work from home burnout to juggling homeschooling and work responsibilities, the pandemic has created new stressors that are affecting the mental health of people across the globe. In fact, The National Institute of Mental Health reports that nearly one in five U.S. adults are living with a mental illness. 

Signs That You Need A Mental Health Day

With the additional strain that COVID-19 is putting on our wellbeing, how do you know if you need a mental health day? One of the best ways is to check in with yourself frequently and be honest about how you’re feeling.

If you’re experiencing any of the following, you may want to consider taking a day off:

  • Having trouble sleeping or staying asleep
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling emotionally drained
  • Becoming easily agitated
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Feeling depleted of energy
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Feeling disconnected

Physical Effects of Stress on Your Body

It’s critical to recognize the signs that you need a break before the tension feels insurmountable and before you become completely burnt out. And keep in mind that it’s not just your mind that is affected by being stressed out, but also your body. Feeling overworked can have harmful effects on your physical health by weakening your immune system and making your more susceptible to illness. If notice yourself getting sick more often or experiencing physical stress symptoms such as insomnia, acne, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, upset stomach, or headaches, it ‘s time to take a break and take care of yourself.

What to Say to Your Employer

After you’ve decided that you need a mental health day, consider the best approach for informing your boss. You can be as open as you feel comfortable with. If you’re feeling additional stress about having to explain the day off to your employer, then just give inform him or her that you would like to take a mental health day and leave it at that. No need to divulge any additional details. If you work for a company that prioritizes mental health or if you’d like to provide an explanation, something like, “Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed at work. I feel that a mental health day would benefit my productivity, so I’ll be taking today off.”

How to Spend Your Mental Health Day

Do whatever it is that makes you happy (besides work). And don’t feel guilty about it! Remember that taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. There’s no right or wrong way to spend the day. You can sleep late, read a book, go to the beach, take a walk, meditate, take a bubble bath, listen to music, go to the park, or even do nothing it all.

The Bottom Line

Taking a mental health day is vital to your physical and mental wellbeing. After you’ve had time to relax and de-stress, you’ll return to work with renewed energy helping you stay focused and be more productive.

With almost half of adults (46.4 percent) in the United States experiencing a mental illness at some point during their lifetimes, it’s extremely important to always make yourself a priority. Listen to your body’s warning signals when it’s time to take a break and practice daily self-care. Even just 10 minutes of meditation a day or a quick 20-minute walk can help you stay healthy. And when we’re feeling good mentally, we’re able to tackle life’s everyday challenges and handle stress much better.

World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10th every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. For more information on the campaign click here.

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