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Why It’s Okay to Take Off Work for Mental Health

Why It’s Okay to Take Off Work for Mental Health

Johnaé De Felicis

People normally call in sick when they catch a cold or they wind up with the flu. But what about those days when you’re on the verge of burnout or a mental breakdown?

It’s no secret that sick days are also meant for mental health struggles, but to some people, “mental health” isn’t a good enough reason to take a day off work.

In one of Capita’s previous studies on workplace wellness, 55% of their participants revealed that they were hesitant to take time off due to their mental health.

Here’s what’s so ironic about that: More companies are making an effort to support the mental health of their employees. They’re not only addressing mental health more in their workplace policies, but they’re also providing personal days off to employees when they just need a break.

I have worked a few corporate jobs in my lifetime. To say that it’s a stressful environment is an understatement.

There were various occasions where I felt like I was at my wits’ end. To compensate for that, I took more than a few sick days to tend to my mental health. Did I feel guilty about it? In the beginning, yes. I initially didn’t feel justified enough to do so, because technically, I wasn’t “sick” when I requested those days off. I just felt drained and mentally exhausted.

I would often contemplate whether to stay at home or just suck it up and go to work. In the end, I would usually go through with taking the day off, and I now have zero regrets about that. And either should you.

The Corporate Conundrum

One thing I disliked about the corporate world was the pressure to be “on” all the time. I was the introverted coworker who loathed small talk, company outings, team building activities, and meetings. If you’ve worked corporate before then you know how it is. Antisocial behavior is heavily frowned upon in that environment.

Unless you don’t care about what others think about you, the last thing you want is to be the fish out of water who can’t adapt to your company’s culture. People are quick to pin the “social outcast” label on you when you’re standoffish at work–because, office politics.

Let’s be real: In order to climb the ladder of a company, you have to be a team player and you must play the game of work politics. That includes getting in good with your boss, building a circle of influence within the organization, and maintaining active social engagement with your team.

I, personally, didn’t enjoy the corporate experience because of these things. Trying to keep up with the politics placed me in some compromising situations mentally.

And I’m sure you know this, but it’s hard to perform well on your job when your mind is out of whack (even in retail). That’s why I’m such a champion for mental health days.

Burnout and mental exhaustion are no joke, and they’re a bigger deal than most might realize. A previous study reported that job-related stress causes approximately 120,000 deaths per year.

The Following are signs you may need a mental health day:

You Need Rest

See Also

This is (obviously) a no-brainer. Everyone could use a mental breather from work every now and then. Recovery from mental fatigue requires rest of some sort. I spent most of my mental health days doing absolutely nothing.

Well actually, that’s a bit of a stretch, after all, lying in bed and binge watching your favorite show counts for something (in my book).

You Need to Refocus

Mental clarity plays an important role in your overall success. It not only increases your focus and productivity, but it also helps you prioritize things better. Without mental clarity, you may feel like your brain is scattered and all over the place. That’s a recipe for disaster in the workplace.

Mental health days are a great way to restore your mental clarity and get your mind back on track for the days ahead.

You Need to Reflect

Self-reflection often leads to a better understanding of self (a.k.a., self-awareness). There are many benefits to this. For instance, you’re able to learn from your mistakes. You’ll also learn to do more of what improves your mental well-being as time passes by.

It’s good practice to reflect on what you experience day-by-day, because we tend to do better when we know better. My suggestion? Get a journal to keep a record of your moments of reflection.

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