When should you take a mental health day?

We’ve all laid in bed longer than we should, listening to our alarm buzz, trying to muster up the strength to get out of bed and seize the day. But do you ever catch yourself drawing blanks, simply unable to even think about the workload facing you – or, having it be all-consuming?

The taboo around mental health is shifting but it’s still hard to make something that is invisible seem legitimate in someone else’s eyes. Especially when that someone else is your boss.

But we all deserve time to rest and care for ourselves, and a two-day weekend doesn’t always cut it. Here’s how to tell if you should take a mental health day and how to request it:

Thoughts of work only conjure negative thoughts

Nobody is thrilled about going to work every single day, but if the thought of your 9-to-5 leaves your head spinning, breath short and maybe even triggers some tears, you need a mental health day. Work isn’t supposed to be all fun and games, but if you’re so overwhelmed that you’re brought to tears or panic, take the time to regroup.

You can’t focus on anything

Being on your a-game is important. However, when you’re not at your mental best, that can distract you from the tasks at hand big time. This isn’t your normal afternoon distractions, but a constant inability to gather your attention. And in that case, nobody in your company benefits.

Your appearance no longer matters

Okay, okay, we’re all guilty of hitting the snooze button too many times then grabbing whatever looks clean. But, if you’re doing that and literally don’t care that you’re not as presentable as usual, that’s different.

Your co-workers seem to be hired to piss you off

If you’re hating a place, chances are you’re hating its people. When you’re in need of a mental health day, chances are your co-workers seem more annoying than ever. Recognize that irritability for what it is. No one loves their colleagues everyday, but you should like them most.

Your work day consists of online shopping and wanderlust

You’re in need of a change. Sitting in an office for too many hours of a day can leave a person feeling a stir crazy. If you’re wistfully daydreaming about greener pastures, maybe it’s time you go find some and have an adventure!

But how do you ask for a mental health day?

Ideally, your boss and HR shouldn’t have a problem discussing mental health and should be open to letting you take a mental health day, but you should make some preparations.

Start by planning in advance. You’ll want to clear your schedule, get someone to cover or complete your work before you take that day off. Otherwise, you burden your coworkers last minute and will only be stressed about what you’re not getting done while at home.

Know your boss. Some bosses will understand if you say you’ve been struggling and need to take a small reprieve. Others want you to be straightforward. Mentioning how your mental health is affecting your quality of work can help them understand.

Be sure to phrase it as a question to be polite, but have confidence in your message. You are entitled to having a healthy state of mind. But, what if they say no? Go the traditional route and take a sick day. Instead of being curled up in a ball sniffling, you can be taking care of your mind. Your employer doesn’t need specifics.

No matter what, today’s world is 24/7/365. It’s not easy to turn off and unwind, but you deserve to take a break, especially for your health’s sake.

Featured image by Emily Creighton