Feeling burned out from the work grind?
You’re not alone. The American Institute of Stress found that 61 percent of U.S. adults say they are stressed from work.
Let that soak in for a bit: over half of Americans feel stressed from their jobs.
According to Glassdoor, “More than four in 10 working adults (44 percent) say their current job has an impact on their overall health and 43 percent report that their job has a negative impact on their levels of stress.” In short, American workers at all professional levels are more stressed than ever before.
Some tell-tale signs of workplace burnout include emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (feelings of alienation at work) and apathy. These experiences lead to extreme fatigue and signal that it’s time to take a mental health day.
“According to a report by the National Business Group on Health,” explains a 2017 Forbes article, Mental illness and substance abuse disorders cost employers an estimated $17 billion each year, in addition to 217 million days of lost work. These numbers show the growing issue of mental health among employees and may be reason enough for companies to offer mental health days to employees that need them.”
Mental health days — and work environments that respect the need for them — are critical to the success of both large and small companies. If employees aren’t well, they’re not as productive as they can be, and business operations suffer as a result. Embracing mental health days in the workplace is an efficient and compassionate way to operate, and something you should take advantage of as an employee.
Remember: self-care is critical to your overall wellness.
We’ve normalized the idea of overworking ourselves, forgoing the use of vacation and sick days for the never-ending stress of 40 or more hours a week spent hustling at our jobs. If you’re constantly thinking about quitting your job, are so stressed you cannot focus, or generally dread waking up and heading to the office, you might be in dire need of a mental health day.
Everyone needs a day off here or there, so don’t be afraid to take the time you need to nurture your mental health and recharge. Here are some of our favorite tips for making the most of your personal day.
Enjoy a staycation
The word “staycation” has become popular for a reason. The hustle and bustle of everyday life can make it difficult to fully admire the wonderful things that are right in your backyard. Book a one-night stay at a local hotel or Airbnb and spend the day exploring more of your city. Some great staycation ideas include trying a new restaurant, going to a spa, or adventuring through a local park.
Clean your place
This mental health day recommendation only applies if you actually like cleaning; there’s no reason to add extra stress and responsibility during your day off. However, if you truly enjoy cleaning, sprucing up your place will be a productive and relaxing activity. Psychology Today reported on a 2010 study that found that “women who described their living spaces as 'cluttered' or full of 'unfinished projects' were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as ‘restful’ and ‘restorative.’” If your house is a mess and you haven’t had time to clean it due to the constant grind, a mental health day might be the perfect opportunity to do so.
Get some sleep
Do you love naps and sleeping in? If so, there’s no better time to indulge than during a mental health day. Without the commitment of heading into work — and with the decision to totally ditch all other responsibilities — there’s no reason why you can’t sleep the day away and catch up on some much-needed R&R.
Turn off work notifications…
…and go even further by staying off social media entirely. Sometimes it’s smart to go dark and recharge in a way that’s hard to do in the age of social media. You don’t want to waste your mental health day scrolling through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, only to realize hours later you’ve done nothing but strain your eyes. Instead, unplug and use — or better yet, conserve — your energy for more relaxing purposes.
Go forest bathing
Ever hear of forest bathing? We reported last year on the benefits of getting outdoors for your mental health. A popular Japanese homeopathic remedy, forest bathing has been practiced for centuries. “Researchers believe that scents given off by trees, paired with the respite from urban distractions, can reduce stress and a bevy of ailments associated with it,” we shared. “Forest therapy may help symptoms of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and ADHD while boosting immune building cells.” Basically, forest bathing could be a key aspect in a refreshing mental health day.
There are many strategies to optimize your mental health day, so seize the opportunity to do so and do yourself a favor. With a bit of balance, you can make the most out of fulfilling your professional duties while caring for your own well-being in the process.