The Importance of Mental Health Days

Life can get overwhelming. In fact, life is oftentimes more overwhelming than not. Between work and kids, relationships and friendships, and trying to find time for ourselves, we usually find ourselves being run by our schedules, instead of the other way around. And then, almost without fail, we find ourselves overcome with feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion. It's what happens when we have done so much, but feel as if we have done nothing at all, and yet, our bodies and minds are tired. This is the perfect time for some mental health days.


When to Stop

One of the most important things you can do, is nothing. Knowing when to stop is a key component to what it takes to keep going. But for most of us, there is a schedule filled with work and other responsibilities that can't be shirked, and we are left wondering when the hell we're supposed to take some time off to just be. The answer may take a bit of planning, but that's the whole point. When we are overwhelmed, it is our responsibility to stop and schedule some much needed days off to see to your mental health and well-being. The time to stop is now.

How to Stop

For those who work outside the home, speak to your superior about taking a few mental health days –– and be sure to use the term mental health days. These are alot different from days off to go to your sister's wedding, or an extra day off just before a three-day holiday. Asking for a week or two to see to your mental health signals to your boss that you are overwhelmed and under an immense amount of pressure, and that it is in the best interest of everyone in the workplace that you take a beat. Be sure to make your request in writing, and to get your boss's response in writing, as well. You want to be sure your time off cannot be reported as frivolous, and protect yourself from any backlash.

For those who work for themselves, taking time off may leave you feeling as if the sky is going to fall if you're not there to hold it up. This is bullshit. The fact of the matter is that you're the boss, and you're in control. The world may not stop spinning just because you need to take a knee, but your world will. Entrepreneurs create their own schedules and make their own rules. Use this to your advantage and schedule some time off. The work will be there when you get back. Trust me.

 Intermittent Stopping

Even if you can only take a few days off a month, make sure to dedicate those days to your well-being. The idea is to fast from all the things that worry you and that keep you moving around, tirelessly. If you have every weekend off, make two of those weekends all about you, and the other two all about other things or people. If you can, make every weekend about you, taking that time to detach from electronics, do chores and run errands, and catch up on reading and other self-care rituals.

Maybe you have to go hard for one solid quarter before you can afford to take a week off. That's just fine! Make plans for that week, put it on your calendar, and use it as a focal point. Knowing you have a week of healing time waiting for you at the end of your grind, will help you get through it without feelings of hopelessness. 

The point is, each of us should have regular periods of going, and regular periods of stopping. Schedule each period and let them help keep you balanced.


self careElisabeth Ovesen