For years, I have been a firm believer in taking what I like to call mental health days. With two kids and ever-increasing responsibilities at work and home, it is more important than ever for me to take that time. My mental health days are my self-care.
What’s a mental health day?
These are days that I choose ahead of time to do whatever I need to do for myself. Yes – I said it. I “selfishly” take time for me. I usually take one day every few months or after a particularly stressful period at work and/or home. My time is spent doing whatever I want to do – or nothing at all. My mental health days don’t all look the same – some days I’ve laid on the couch watching TV and napping the day away and other times, I’ve crossed ALL the To-Dos and errands off my inevitably long list.
I recently finished a 4-month long project that was very time consuming and a bit stressful. After it was completed, I looked at my calendar and chose a day when I had no meetings scheduled. I entered a request to take that day off. Want to know what I did? Nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I laid on the couch and caught up on a few of my favorite shows. I read a book. I TOOK A NAP. WHAT? WHO AM I? I did cook a quick dinner that afternoon before picking the kids up from daycare. That day set me up to return to work refreshed and ready to move forward with other projects and tasks that needed to be taken care of.
Why are you taking mental health days?
We all know that today’s professional world is no longer 8-5, Monday through Friday. We can’t leave work at work anymore. It has become increasingly difficult to unplug at night and on weekends, resulting in stress and frustration from work, home, family, friends, etc. building and bubbling over quickly. Studies show taking mental health days are instrumental in feeling your best. Taking mental health days help me to reset/recharge and I come back to work the next day in a better state of mind and ready to tackle ALL THE WORK. It also helps me to refocus on what is truly important in my life.
While I love my job and the people I work with, managing the workload and mental/physical stress of a moderately high-stress position can take its toll both professionally and personally. It’s important to recognize when you need to step back and recharge.