The stigma that surrounds mental health is beginning to fade, and employers are encouraging staff to make use of mental health days when stress becomes too much to handle. Even with this encouragement, many employees are unsure of when and how to take this time off. As the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety notes, recognizing the signs of workplace stress is key to determining when it might be time to take a mental health day, but there are several other signs that you might be in need of a break.
1. You’re Distracted by Events in Your Personal Life
Whether you’re going through a separation or divorce, lacking quality time with your children, or simply behind on home maintenance or paying bills, you might find that stress in the home is distracting you from performing well at work. Requesting a mental health day to catch up on your personal life or spend time with your family may be exactly what you need to regain your focus at work and reduce your anxiety and stress levels.
2. You’re Feeling Completely Exhausted
If you’re completely rundown and feeling unable to concentrate at work or at home, it’s a good sign that you’re in need of a “me day.” Whether you schedule a day off in advance or call into work to request an emergency mental health day, it’s important to take some time to recharge your batteries. Try to avoid self-isolating activities like binge-watching TV, which paradoxically can deplete your body and mind further. It’s best to focus on depression and anxiety-reducing activities like spending time with friends and family, dining out or visiting a zoo or museum.
3. You Need Time to Care for Yourself
If you need to visit a doctor or a therapist, taking time off work might be necessary. Whether you’re dealing with medication changes, a long-term illness or want to talk with your therapist, it’s important to request a mental health day. Caring for your health is vital to work performance, so time off in these instances is absolutely necessary.
How to Request a Mental Health Day
If you’re working for a company that encourages employees to care for their mental health, simply asking your employer for time off should suffice. It’s your choice if you want to divulge the reason to your employer or if you’d prefer to ask for the day off without sharing the details. If the company you work for hasn’t made it clear that taking time off to preserve your mental health is an option, you may prefer to use a sick day and avoid offering further explanation.