The Benefits of Taking a Mental Health Day

The fatigue has set in—it’s Wednesday and you’re mentally and physically exhausted. Email notifications keep flashing on your desktop screen, your phone is ringing and you barely have the energy to pick it up. Sound familiar? You may need a mental health day.

A mental health day is exactly what it sounds like—a short break (usually 1-2 days) where you decompress. This period of relaxation can consist of staycation trips to local tourism spots or streaming your favorite TV sitcom. What you do decide to do isn’t as important as taking time to disconnect.

Taking a mental health day is becoming more common in the modern workplace. They are imperative for both employees and companies alike, because a stressed employee negatively impacts performance and morale. In fact, stress-related office absences and health care costs employers $300 billion per year, according to Inc. Some companies now offer mental health days in their benefits packages, and 84 percent of U.S. workers get paid vacation time, between 10 and 20 paid vacation days per year.

Focus on You

There are many reasons why you may need to take a mental health day—perhaps you work in a high-stress environment, you live with a mental health disorder or your personal life is weighing on you. Whatever the reason may be, taking a mental health day can help you take a step back from outside stressors and focus on you.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, there are three types of burnout: working to exhaustion, feeling bored and, lastly, feeling worn out. Those types of burnout often lead to “ineffective coping strategies” such as frequent venting and low motivation to complete large amounts of work in a timely manner.

In the hustle and bustle of the modern American workplace, mental health days (and breaks from your office) often get lost in the traffic of intense workloads. Oftentimes, feelings of being overwhelmed can be managed with a nice, relaxing stay-cation where you can recharge and re-energize.

Staycation Activities

What are some things you can do on your mental health day? Other than activities around the house, short day trips can be both relaxing and exhilarating. Consider a visit to Frankenmuth‘s “Little Bavaria,” complete with authentic food and horse drawn carriages. Maybe you could catch a Tigers game, or go to the Potter Park Zoo. If you’re more into satisfying your artistic/historical side, check out the Detroit Institute of Arts or the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. Or, you can stay at home and do absolutely nothing – we won’t judge! The options are endless.

Mental health days can counter chronic stress symptoms like fast heart rate, high blood pressure and slow metabolism. For many who experience work-related stress, counseling can help manage the daily stressors of the 9-5 life. But stay-cations can also provide relief by giving you the opportunity to relax, explore and enjoy your days off!

10394829_10203041004765798_6125478489802005794_n-1Megan Dottermusch is the community manager for [email protected], the masters in counseling program offered by The Family Institute at Northwestern, online. She is a wellness advocate, motivating others to incorporate fitness, proper nutrition, and mindfulness into everyday life. She attended the University of Maryland and served as risk manager on her sorority’s executive board, acting as a confidante for members seeking help for personal and emotional issues. She hopes starting a dialogue around mental health will address the misconceptions and end the stigmas associated with mental illness.

Photo credit: MundusImages (main)

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