Why Mental Health Days Are a Thing, and Why You Need One

Here are 5 reasons from a perfectionist workaholic on why you should do the unspeakable: take a mental health day.

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As a perfectionist who’s spent most of my life thinking there was no greater lifestyle than working yourself to death the bone, when I first heard of a mental health day, I rolled my eyes. That’d be lazy. That’s be slacking. If I wasn’t dying or it wasn’t a weekend, my butt needed to be at work.

Let’s fast forward to my burnout, and talk about how I learned mental health days aren’t for the mentally disabled or challenged. They’re for everybody, and if you’ve never taken one or don’t think you need it, let me give you a workaholic newsflash: You do, buddy. If you don’t think you need one, that’s the perfect time to take one; when you don’t need is as much as you need to knock out the national power grid just so you can have a good reason for not showing up to work that day and rest for a minute.

1. They Give You a Much Needed “You” Day

If you’re like me, the weekend isn’t enough. There are friends to meet, family to visit, errands to run, things around the house to finish, and sometimes work to catch up on. This is all productive and good, and hanging out with loved ones is a great thing, but this schedule leaves no room for sitting by yourself to marathon through a Netflix series. There’s no time to play a guitar, or a nap, or to stare at the wall for a few hours, which is something we all need. We need time to truly power down, and without it, we exhaust ourselves. It makes us unproductive at work. It makes us irritable with friends. It makes us feel our lives are a series of tasks and never living. When that builds up too much, finally it becomes a sick day, and that sucks. So stop before you reach that; take a mental health day and make it about your mental health.

2. They Give You Time to Expand Your Social Circle

Like I said above, there’s a lot on your plate as it is. How can you make new relationships when you barely have room in your schedule to maintain the ones you have? Where would you find the energy? A mental health day gives you a chance to breath, reach out to others, and enjoy the freedom of making new connections. You’ll get into a rut with your work and your friends, but you’ll break it by going for a walk to make new friends, or signing up for a dating site like Plaisir Express. These relationships will enrich your life and give you a chance to gain back the energy you’ve lost.

3. They Make You More Productive

The fact is, you’re not a robot, and expecting yourself to reach Siri-level of productivity with about as much break time and nutrition as she gets is both unrealistic and damaging. You’re human, and humans work better when we’re allowed to take a break, de-stress, and look at the great wide world for a bit. If your work is lulling or losing its quality edge, take a mental health day and then come back swinging. You’ll be shocked how much easier the work is and how improved the results are.

4. They Let You Knuckle Down on Your To-Do List

No doubt as a workaholic, you gain satisfaction through accomplishing things, but a mental health day allows you to accomplish different things than you normally do with work and private time. As a “you” day, you’re not obligated to go do things for your community and friends, so you have time to finish a hobby project you’d left behind, or make a repair you’d been ignoring, or finally redecorate your living room. Don’t overwork yourself on your mental health day, but feel free to accomplish something other than the routine you do day in and day out.

5. It Breaks the Rut

When you can schedule every single day leading up to your death, it’s a sad state of being. You always know your work days, your holidays, and you can only look forward to a reprieve if illness strikes you down. It gets monotonous. A mental health day lets you break from your schedule, and hope of a future break gives you the promise of being able to step out of your structured existence if you really need to — without repercussions. This will give you a whole new level of optimism, allowing you to perform better and feel better everywhere else in life.

Mental health days are for everyone, not just those with a total nervous breakdown pending. If your workplace offers them, don’t turn down the chance to take them. Every part of your life will thank you for it.

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