5 Signs It’s Time to Take a Mental Health Day

When web developer Madalyn Parker emailed her colleagues telling them she was taking time off for her mental health, her CEO’s response was so encouraging that she shared it on Twitter. It went viral. Some users reacted positively: “OMG. Are they hiring??” Others questioned the need to distinguish between a sick day and mental health day: “Who needs to know what kind of sick I am when I log sick leave?”

The Stigma of the Mental Health Day

No matter how you define it, the truth is most Americans are notoriously bad about taking time off to address mental health needs. The ethos of modern society revolves more and more around the ideas of hustling, go-getting, and nonstop self-improvement — but is that really sustainable? In fact, these very components could lead to suffering from burnout.

Sometimes you need a break so you can take time to push your daily worries and concerns aside. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather a way to be your best self. Here are several reasons why you may need to take time to recharge.

1. You’re Overwhelmed

You feel it welling up inside. You’re exhausted. You’re weighed down by work, and you can’t seem to get ahead. According to a recent research study, the American workplace is physically and emotionally taxing, with workers frequently facing unstable work schedules, unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions, and an often hostile social environment. This is all the more reason to recognize when to say “when.” A day of downtime may be the perfect medicine.

2. Your Weekend Wasn’t Restorative

Sometimes you pack so much into a weekend, you forget to actually unwind from the week. Or maybe the stress of impending deadlines or a confrontation with a coworker has seeped into your Saturday and Sunday, keeping you in work mode instead of relaxation nation. Monday might be the day to reset.

And this goes for kids, too. School can be mentally and physically trying, so while emphasizing a good work ethic is important, it’s equally necessary to encourage children to pay attention to their bodies and take time off if they really need it.

3. You’re Suffering From Digital Overload

Is technology consuming every waking hour of your day? Does your smartphone alarm wake you up in the morning? Is social media the last thing you look at before you go to sleep at night? Don’t be fooled. It can’t replace human connection. A Dignity Health survey of 2,000 U.S. smartphone users unveiled the risk of technology-related stress caused by the dependent relationship people have with their digital devices. For your own good, disconnect and take a smartphone-free mental health day.

4. Your Patience Is Wearing Thin

Are you snapping at your coworkers? Short-fused with your boss? If you’re losing your temper easily, your brain may need a break. One of the symptoms associated with burnout is increased irritability, and if that’s the case, you definitely need to take a step back.

Give yourself the mental and physical rest you need. You might not even need a full day — perhaps a midday massage or an hour-long walk through the park will be enough to break you out of the funk and improve your mood. Whatever it may be, give yourself permission to take the time when you need it.

5. You’ve Experienced a Traumatic Life Event

Work may not be the only reason you need to take some mental time off. A difficult anniversary, like the date of a family member’s passing, may be approaching. Or you may be having financial difficulties. Whatever the reason, events like these can you leave you feeling depressed, distracted, and overwhelmed. It’s OK if you’re having trouble coping and need to step away from your obligations.

Bear in mind, sometimes it may take more than a mental health day or two if your worries and concerns are vast. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a therapist. Talking through your problems is often the key to getting rid of them.