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How to Take a Mental Health Day – GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog

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Most people experience stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative mental health effects to some degree. At the very least, we all know stress, whether from our job, home life, relationships, or other life factors. While lower levels of stress may be manageable, increased stress levels can lead to poor mental health or burnout if left unaddressed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, it might be time to take a mental health day.

What Is a Mental Health Day?

Although a mental health day looks different from person to person, the term refers to the time an individual takes to step away from their responsibilities, most often at work, to recharge. In definition, a mental health day is “a day that an employee takes off from work in order to relieve stress or renew vitality.”

Why Take a Mental Health Day?

Taking time to recharge, relieve stress, and address your mental health is essential to avoiding burnout. Burnout is when people struggle to continue finding purpose in their job, are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted by their stress, or feel too drained to do their best work. Mental health days can act as a reset button that helps workers regain motivation, refocus on what they find life-giving, and take on what’s before them from a place of strength.

How Do You Ask for One?

If your employer values and wishes to protect their employees’ wellness, asking to take a day off might not be a big deal. Most likely, the day will count as a sick day or a vacation day. On the other hand, asking for a mental health day might be difficult if your employer does not prioritize your mental and emotional health. If you believe your employer will negatively respond to your request for a mental health day, just put in for a standard sick day or utilize vacation time. Be wary of quickly using up your days off; spreading out mental health days over the course of the year is best.

How to Maximize Your Mental Health Day

Get Plenty of Rest

To prepare for your mental health day, try to get plenty of sleep the night before. Sleep and rest are essential to maintaining good mental and emotional well-being. If you want to make the most of this day (and reap the most benefits), it’s best not to stay up late the night before and sleep late the day of. 

Eat Well

Although it is tempting to enjoy your favorite junk food snacks, it’s better to strengthen both mind and body with nutritious foods on a day like this. This will provide you with an increase in both physical and mental energy to make the most of your day.

Work Your Brain

Mental stimulation is important for avoiding burnout. Take your mental health day to explore an interest and stimulate your brain. Try to avoid starting at the television or your phone for most of the day. Work on a puzzle, read a book, sketch the tree across the street, do a project at home, or engage in any activity that reflects your interests and makes you think.

Talk to Your People

Take this set-apart day as an excuse to connect with positive influences in your life. Consider calling up a family member or having lunch with a good friend. Intentionally devote some time to people who fill up your tank and contribute to your mental well-being rather than talking to people who may add to your stress.

Do Something Nice for Yourself

Consider taking this opportunity to treat yourself to something you might not normally indulge in. Try to avoid spending large amounts of money or planning something in too much detail as it might result in more added stress. Instead, spend some time outdoors, get your favorite cup of coffee, attend a yoga class during work hours, or visit a special location you don’t get to visit often. Allow yourself to receive and enjoy.

Taking a mental health day every now and again can go a long way in helping you avoid emotional, physical, and mental burnout. 

If you are experiencing high stress levels and want to avoid burnout, a therapist can be an excellent support. Start your search for a therapist near you today. 






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