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Why You Should Take Mental Health Days Proactively

Mental health days are not only something we want but also what we need. (Image via Pixabay/ Pachecopablo90)
Mental health days are not only something we want but also something we need. (Image via Pixabay/ Pachecopablo90)

World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th every year, but shall we wait to focus on our mental well-being only on that day? When was the last time you took a personal day and focused on self-care? A mental health day means that you don't check your work emails, look at social media, or think about all the stuff you need to finish up at work.

It's just a day where you focus on something that makes you smile and makes you have positive thoughts.

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Reasons to take a mental health day proactively

There may be a number of reasons why you may feel you need to take a day off for your mental health. Personal problems, poor working relationships, and overwork are all common reasons – as well as feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and stressed. Left unchecked, these factors may eventually lead to stress, unhappiness and even mental illness.⁠

Here are the reasons for taking mental health days proactively.


1. Benefits at work

A day for mental health allows employees to rest and rejuvenate so that they can be their happiest and most productive selves at work. If people are too weary, unhappy, or anxious at work, they won't do much. An easy method to recharge and avoid burnout or crippling stress is to take a day off for self-care.

Employers can also benefit from mental health days. Research shows that while taking a day off can temporarily reduce output, reducing employee stress at work improves long-term productivity. Employee job performance, engagement levels, and the general corporate culture can all be severely impacted by work stress. Prioritizing mental health and using mental health days is better for the company owner, their employees, and the company as a whole.


2. Self-care is continuous

Self-care breaks involve more than just utilizing luxurious bath bombs and face masks; they also involve admitting that you are emotionally drained. A fever, for instance, is not something we ignore in the hopes that it will go away on its own.

Ideally, we should add an annual appointment with a psychologist or therapist to just talk, similar to how we attend the dentist on a yearly basis. Whether it's young children, adolescents, or adults, everyone has the right to take a day off. If this is not possible, incorporating brief acts of self-care into our daily routines, such as mindfulness exercises, journaling, and meditation, may be beneficial.


3. Prevention is better than cure

Do you take days off at the very worst time? (Image via Pixabay/ Silvia)
Do you take days off at the very worst time? (Image via Pixabay/ Silvia)

Early intervention is key to preventing the worsening of mental health issues. For these reasons, taking a day for mental health to look after your needs, unwind, and regroup might be beneficial. If you are feeling more tired than usual, or are having trouble sleeping, it may be a sign that you need to take a day off work to look after your mental health.


4. Reactive days off can be problematic!

Be proactive about your mental health. (Image via Unsplash/ Kike Vega)
Be proactive about your mental health. (Image via Unsplash/ Kike Vega)

While taking a mental health day is important, some of us may end up spending it by doing nothing and keep engaging with our negative thoughts and emotions. A self-care day is not for sitting with these but rather taking active steps towards your mental health.

Most people approach their mental health day in a reactive manner. Unfortunately, because one is already so worn out, the benefits of a day for mental health are lessened because of how tired one is feeling at that point.


5. Unplanned days can be a waste

Planning our day for mental health enhances our well-being. (Image via Pexels/ Bich Tran)
Planning our day for mental health enhances our well-being. (Image via Pexels/ Bich Tran)

The first step in planning a proactive mental health day is recognizing when you need one and accepting the idea that taking one will benefit you. Accepting that you might benefit from a break is not a sign of weakness.

Spend a few minutes checking in with yourself and being open and honest about your emotions. Are you on the verge of burnout as a result of mounting work-related stress? Do you find yourself having nervous thoughts throughout the day because of recent events in the news? Are your present methods of stress relief—eating too much ice cream, drinking too much alcohol—more detrimental than beneficial? Being real with yourself will help you pinpoint what you should focus on during your mental health day.


Takeaway

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to taking a mental health day is giving yourself permission to do it. We sometimes say that we feel guilty or lazy when taking a day off if we are not “really” sick. However, mental health is just as important as physical health! Taking a mental health day now can prevent more serious problems later.

The idea of celebrating Mental Health Day at least once a year is for you to truly take out some time for yourself and try to do that each week or day if you have to. Just like it’s important to schedule meetings, similarly, it’s important to schedule time for yourself and stick to it because you deserve it.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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Edited by Nicolaas Ackermann
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