Every once in a while, we all need a mental break from work. Whether we just need a day to binge-watch our favourite shows or escape to the beach, it’s completely normal to need a mental health day, to reset and come back to work feeling refreshed and more effective than ever. Before you take a mental health day, there are a few things you should consider in order to make the most of your day off and to ensure you’re able to take the mental break that you need. Here are 5 things to consider before you take a mental health day.

Is this a good time?

Many of us take a mental health day from work because we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, or both. However, if you take a mental health day at the wrong time, you could end up being more stressed and overwhelmed than you were before. If you have a lot of things going on at work, are close to important deadlines, or are understaffed temporarily, really think about whether it’s a good time to take a mental health day. Will you be able to really shut your mind off from work when you know how busy it is? Will you come back to work fresh after being able to hit a reset button? Or will you in fact be spending your day off stressing even more about work, knowing the mess you’ll be returning to?

Sometimes, it’s better to just power through and wait until you know you will be able to mentally separate yourself from work.

Do you already have a day off scheduled?

If you’re needing a mental health day and it’s Thursday, maybe you want to consider just powering through on Friday and using the weekend to decompress and take a couple days from thinking about work. After all, you don’t want to waste your annual leave when you already have a couple of days a week to use!

What do you need the most?

Before you take a mental health day, it’s important to understand what you want to get out of it. Do you need a day of relaxation? Do you want to be active and release endorphins through exercise? We all destress in different ways, so it’s important that you spend your day off in the most effective way for you. There’s no point in taking a mental health day if you don’t actually get what you need out of it, so make sure you’re spending it doing something that will truly give you the mental break that you deserve.

Remember that some things will stress you out more

There are definitely some activities that you should avoid when taking a mental health day. These things may end up making you more stressed out about work, won’t help you declutter your mind, and will end up putting in you in a worse place than you started off. You should avoid things like:

– Drinking alcohol
– Eating junk food
– Spending all day on social media

All of these things can lead to more stress, making you think (and talk) about work, and just instil negative feelings in yourself generally.

You want to spend your mental health day doing things that are healthy for both your mind and body. It’s not just another day off, it’s a day off to look after yourself. Reading, exercising, eating healthy, starting a new hobby, meditating—all of these things (and more) can help you make the most of your mental health day.

Don’t feel bad

This is probably the most important thing to remember when you’re taking a mental health day—it’s OK. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about taking time off to look after you. We’re all human and we spend so many hours of our life working and stressing out about other people’s problems. Your co-workers and superiors should understand that taking a mental health day means you’ll come back a more effective worker, which is beneficial to the overall business. So don’t feel bad about taking a mental health day, own it.

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