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An Exhaustive Guide on How To Take a Mental Health Day Off


Everyone deals with varying levels of stress. It can get challenging to function and manage everything if you have a lot on your plate. Research shows that mental health can significantly impact academic life.

Burnout can leave one feeling exhausted, irritable, empty, and unable to cope with daily life demands. It may lead to one experiencing a variety of mental and physical health symptoms as well. If one doesn’t address burnout and fatigue, it can make it very difficult for individuals to perform well in their daily lives and lead to declining productivity. Naturally, we all ask for leave for sick days for physical health, but the practice of taking leave for addressing our mental health is more of a grey area.

Have you taken a day off for your mental health?

Sometimes taking a mental health day—a day off that's geared towards stress relief, self-work, and burnout prevention—is the best thing you can do for yourself and gain that lost energy back. One day might not solve serious underlying problems that lead to burnout, yet it can provide a much-needed break to rest and come back with greater energy levels and a less-stressed perspective.

Here are some tips that can help you take a mental health day and make the most out of your day off:

Deciding What You Need the Most

If one is fatigued, the body will be screaming that it needs to rest and sleep. It could be because of deadlines, or one just feels that he/she can't face another day of hard work. It not only requires a day off but also requires some fun. However, if you're feeling confused, you may not be as aware of your needs.

Take a minute and introspect: Would it benefit if you take some time off? Would a day off with friends recharge you? Do you need to spend some quality time with yourself alone? Or do you need a day of doing nothing?

How To Spend Your Mental Health Day

Just like you’d treat any sick day, indulge in the things that would make you feel better. It is a day for yourself. Don’t confuse it with a ‘running errands day.’ Design a mental health day for self-care so that you feel refreshed. Just make sure whatever is being done makes you feel more at ease and relaxed.

You can take time out and binge watch some Netflix series or movies, or indulge in your favourite hobby like drawing, painting, cooking, baking, reading a good book, or go out with friends for a coffee or dinner, spend time with family, go for a walk. You can also spend time decluttering, organizing and cleaning if that is therapeutic for you!

The key is to spend valuable time doing an activity that you find relaxing and rejuvenating. 

Decide whether you need to make some fundamental changes 

Sometimes, self-care is realising that you need to make changes to your lifestyle. Take the day off to restructure and sort things out. You won’t be able to eliminate all the ongoing stressors in a day. Still, you might be capable enough to make a significant change in various domains, which would create an enduring impact in the long term.

You can start to eliminate stress by:

  • Figuring out what is wrong by reflecting and analysing
  • Creating a list of things that drain energy and how changes can be brought into that sphere of life
  • Formulating to-do lists and planning in advance
  • Reflecting on all your strengths and coping mechanisms that you already have or need to develop

Things to Avoid on Your Mental Health Day

Spending your day in self-care does not mean spending time in loneliness. It is a day to help you refresh and recharge. Even if you want to stay home and sleep all day, make sure that it is for the right reasons and you are not just doing it to avoid people.

Things one should avoid:

  • Indulging in smoking or drinking
  • Overeating or binge eating junk and unhealthy foods
  • Ruminating or crying
  • Spend all day on the phone, reading posts on social media or memes
  • Being socially distant

It is essential to fill your Mental Health day with activities that boost your physical and mental wellness.

Reflect on the Day

Once you’ve spent the day on yourself, set aside some time to reflect on the day’s events, make it a habit to practice the GLAD technique. 

GLAD is a gratitude exercise that will improve the mood and help you with an added dose of positivity. It strengthens one’s ability to be grateful for what life has in store for you. It is:

  • Gratitude
  • Learning
  • Achievement or accomplishment
  • Delight

It puts you in a better emotional place right before bed and prepares you for the next hectic day.

Don't expect to be able to decide about all of this in a single go. If you want to make a radical change in your life, use the mental day off as a chance to do long-term planning, evaluation, and get ready to work on those changes for long-term impact. It may feel awkward at first to do things like spending a day with your loved ones or doing your hobby that you’d otherwise spend working. But these activities can go a long way toward helping you feel better, relaxed, and revived.

A mental health day can be beneficial on occasion, but in the current times, we must also strive to make mental health a priority every day. Gaining a detailed report into the areas you need to work on is a fundamental step on the journey of mental wellness. You can avail yourself of the option of self-management tools or book a session with a therapist for more support without compromising on your confidentiality.