It’s common for people to take a personal day off or two from work when feeling physically unwell because of course, good physical health equals good work performance, but why isn’t it considered the same when it comes to mental health? After all, a healthy and focused mind is just as crucial at the workplace, and taking a day off work due to stress is nothing to be ashamed of.
When you’re mentally exhausted, the human body sends signals to you in the form of stress, anxiety, or other such symptoms to let you know that a mental health day is due. But how do you know for sure that a mental health day from work will help at all? How are you supposed to spend it to ensure your mind is strong enough to take on the challenges one is faced with at the workplace when you rejoin?
What are the signs you need a mental health day from work? This article presents a list of major signs that your body desperately needs a break, along with a brief guide on how to spend it to refresh your mind.
Signs You Need a Mental Health Day From Work Right Now!
No matter how much you enjoy your job, it is impossible to not get exhausted from the workload and the stressful routine. It is work after all, and we would all rather be doing something non-work related if we had a choice. Sometimes it’s not even about the kind of job you’re doing, or the size of the paycheck you’re receiving, rather, it could have something to do with your pre-existing mental issues that are being neglected due to excessive work, or perhaps, it could be neglected personal frustrations accumulating overtime and nagging at you, demanding attention, ultimately exhausting you, pushing you to the verge of burnout.
Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, taking a day off due to stress is important for both, your sanity and productivity, so instead of hoarding those off days, take advantage and spend some time working on yourself so you can have a clear mind and give your hundred percent at work.
Here are 7 major signs you need a mental health day from work, RIGHT NOW!
1. You’re Showing Symptoms of Mental Fatigue
We’re all guilty of overworking ourselves past our limits to meet this deadline and that. With your brain working in overdrive, overworking can often have a counterintuitive effect on your progress at work. Especially if the nature of work you’re doing requires a lot of mental energy, it can lead to mental exhaustion and burnout. Symptoms of mental fatigue include Insomnia, headaches, trouble focusing, detachment, frustration, a lack of motivation, etc.
According to an analysis, approximately 16% of employees aged 15-75 reported feeling work-related mental fatigue, out of which employees aged 25-35 were reported to be most affected by it in 2017. Mental fatigue is a major sign that one needs to withdraw from stressful situations and keep away from tiring oneself further, in which case, one could risk the onset of mental burnout and the deterioration of one’s mental well-being.
2. Sudden Sleep Disturbances
Sleep disturbances accompany most mental health issues as the predominant symptom. Depression, anxiety, and stress are all linked to poor sleeping habits and sleep disorders. A sudden change in sleep schedule, like insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, can often indicate a poor mental presence and calls for a break from everyday stress to freshen up your mind.
Alternatively, disturbances in sleep patterns can further contribute to a decline in productivity and motivation, affecting your work presence and ability to deal with work-related stress. Study indicates that trouble sleeping is associated with low work performance, high healthcare costs, and an increase in missed workdays.
3. A Lack of Concentration and Inability to Focus
When you realize you have emailed the wrong Steve for the hundredth time in a week, or when you’re invited to the boss’s office to ‘chat’ again for missing out on an important deadline, it’s pretty obviously a sign for you to finally show yourself some compassion and take a couple of days off work.
A lack of concentration and inability to focus makes you a nuisance at work anyway, not only for your co-workers but also for yourself. No matter how many cups of coffee you down or how many energy drinks you consume, you just can’t seem to get things right. In such a case, it’s better to indulge in a self-care day by taking a day off due to stress to try and combat it and work on your focus so you can give your hundred percent at work.
4. Increased Anxiety and Stress
The workplace is a stressful place as it is. The last thing your mind needs is so much strain that it begins to interfere with your daily life, whether personal or professional. The sane thing to do when anxiety and stress become persistent to the point they impair your functioning is to take a break from the cause of it, or from anything that may be fueling it on.
Stress and anxiety for a prolonged period of time can lead to serious mental health conditions and behavioral alterations like mood swings, frustration, detachment, and exhaustion. A survey indicates that stress and anxiety at the workplace can interfere with an employee’s personal life, relationships, workplace performance, and quality of work as well.
5. Excessive Unwarranted Irritability
There’s evidence that workplace stress interferes with personal and home life along with professional and family relationships, more often than not in a negative way. Of course, we all get snappy and testy from time to time but when you notice that you’ve been snapping at your co-workers, family, and friends a lot for no valid reason, it’s probably a good idea for you to check in with yourself.
Excessive and unwarranted irritability is among the major signs you need a mental health day from work, as this can not only harm your position at work, it can also cause problems in your personal life with your relationships, so taking a day off work due to stress may be the right thing to do in such a situation.
6. Decreased Productivity
According to American Psychiatric Association (APA), employees suffering from poor mental health and issues such as depression are likely to experience a decline in productivity by 35%. Therefore, poor mental health that seems to be interfering with your work performance is a major red flag that should not be ignored.
Oftentimes, too much workload can overwhelm you and you may end up feeling tense and anxious to get done with your tasks. But, it’s difficult to get things done when you’re overwhelmed. As a result, not only do you end up stressing yourself beyond what your mind and body can bear, you also end up losing motivation to be productive anymore.
7. Headaches and Physical Ailments
Mental health shares a strong connection with physical health. Prolonged exposure to stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to physical issues like gastrointestinal problems, recurring infections, low immunity due to careless eating habits and sleep schedule, and more. Headaches are a common symptom of stress. These physical ailments can be debilitating when it comes to your professional as well as personal life.
Usually, when the physical symptoms start to show is when most of us begin to consider taking a mental health day from work, but often, we’re not even aware that the condition of our physical health is greatly dependent upon the wellness of our mind. So, if you notice you’ve been catching allergies and colds lately, more often than usual, and your headaches progress to the point they meddle with and prevent you from performing your routine activities, taking a day off from work due to stress can do wonders for your overall health.
How To Manage Your Personal Day Off From Work
Sadly, poor mental health is still not considered a legitimate reason for one to request a day off in some companies, however, once you have identified your symptoms and decided that it’s best for your sanity to take a few days off, utilizing your sick days is a good option after surveying the specific policy of your company regarding the issue.
As for your day off, you can cater to your mental health and spend a self-care day by indulging in relaxing activities or resting as you would on your usual sick days. Keep in mind that this day is only for you to focus on yourself, so instead of spending your day catching up with chores, do things to foster your mental wellness, may it be meditation, yoga, reading, writing, mindful eating, watching a movie or merely sleeping!
It’s your day, spend it as you like!
Usually, the difficult part is identifying the signs you need a mental health day, but the rest of it becomes easy once you do. Sometimes, there may be guilt attached to your decision of taking a day off work due to stress, because a lot of people consider it insignificant, but you should know that your mental well-being is just as important as your physical well-being to give your best at work.
Lastly, it’s never a bad idea to get professional help if it seems like your mental health isn’t improving by simple self-care activities.