10 Signs You Need to Take a Mental Health Day (and How to Spend It)

10 signs you need a mental health day and how to spend it

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Do you usually take mental health days off work? Or do you not know the signs that indicate you need a mental health day, hence never request any? This post has got you covered!

Mental health is a global issue that deserves way more attention than it currently gets. It is just as important as physical health, yet we rarely talk about it.

People, especially in the workplace, fear to admit having mental health issues because of the stigma associated with it. As such, many employees would rather keep working even when they do not feel well enough mentally to function properly, than request mental health days at work.

However, your health should always be first on your list of top priorities in life. And this might just be the perfect time for you to check in with yourself to assess your mental health. You need to learn how to recognize the signs you need a mental health day and how to spend it effectively.

What Is a Mental Health Day and Why Do You Need It

Also referred to as a personal day, a mental health day is a time off from work dedicated to catering to your mental and emotional health. People take mental health days and spend them doing things that reduce stress and prevent burnout.

Although you can’t solve all your mental health issues in one day, taking this time off helps you rest, regroup yourself, improve your mood, and reduces the progression of some mental problems.

A mental health day is also the perfect opportunity to address any stressors that could be bugging you.

For instance, you can spend your mental health day effectively by going to that doctor’s appointment you have been putting off but keep thinking about.

You will notice improved productivity and performance when you have better mental health.

But, how can you know you need to take a mental health day? Are there any signs you need a mental health day off work?

With the fast pace of modern-day living, it is easy for one to overlook their mental health. You work too much and have too little fun or downtime.

If you haven’t taken a day off from work in a while, it might be time to take a break to practice some much-needed self-care for your mind, body, and soul.

Read on to know the signs to look out for to know when you need to take a mental health day and how you can spend it.

10 Signs You Need to Take a Mental Health Day

  1. You feel tired all the time

It is normal to feel tired after doing some work, especially if it involves physical activity. However, if you feel exhausted all the time, even when you haven’t done much, there might be an underlying problem.

Some of the reasons you could feel like this include; a sedentary lifestyle, being too active, diet, poor sleeping habits, and mental health problems.

You probably have been overworking, and your body is experiencing burnout.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of mental health issues such as depression, stress, and anxiety. Therefore, feeling tired all the time is one of the signs you need to take a mental health day off to relax, unwind, and recharge.

READ ALSO: Is It Depression or Just Laziness? How to Know the Difference

  1. You are tense

If your job requires you to meet daily/monthly targets or work under tight deadlines, being tense can become your norm.

Tension is one of the early indicators of stress. You find that you can’t relax until you have finished or submitted work before a deadline.

You could even feel guilty for having fun or doing anything else when you haven’t yet accomplished a task. This can become overwhelming, and you could feel like you are wound up tight and might snap at any moment.

If you are too tense, it could manifest as unexplainable head and body aches, jaw and tooth pain, muscle pain, fatigue, as well as chest tightness. 

Tension could be one of the signs you need to take a mental health day to relax and unwind.

  1. You are easily irritated

Do you ever have days where you get bothered and irritated by anyone or anything? Everything makes you angry. You can hardly tolerate other people and might start to act out or be rude to others.

If you start to get into arguments with colleagues, family members, and friends constantly, even over small things; it might be time to take a step back and check in with yourself.

Being easily irritated is one of the early signs you need to take a mental health day.

READ ALSO: Put The Oxygen Mask on Yourself First: Tips on How to Put Yourself First

  1. Restlessness

Have you been feeling nervous, apprehensive, breathless, and restless more often than before? This could be one of the signs you need to take a mental health day because you are probably suffering from anxiety.

You feel like you are constantly on edge and hence stay on guard in case something bad happens. You might also experience regular panic attacks.

Furthermore, being restless can lead to sleeping problems because your mind can’t calm down enough to rest. While working, you cannot sit still, and instead, you are either fidgeting or moving around, which may affect your productivity. You can spend your mental health day sorting out your emotions.

READ ALSO: 6 Ways Journaling Improves Your Mental Health

  1. You have trouble focusing

Ever wondered why you keep getting distracted and zoning out while working?

One minute you are busy writing up a report, the next you somehow find yourself sucked down the social media rabbit hole, with no idea how you even got there. Or, maybe you are working, then suddenly remember you have unpaid bills or any other things going on in your life.

All these troubles with concentration are signs you need to take a mental health day.

Some things that affect your ability to concentrate include fatigue, lack of sleep, too many plans, and multitasking. It feels like there are too many tabs open in your brain, and your thoughts are scattered.

Taking a mental health day will be perfect to help you declutter your mind and improve your focus.

  1. You don’t love your job anymore

No matter how much you love your job, you need a break from it at some point, or you will start to hate it and begin to exhibit self-sabotaging behaviors.

If you started out loving your job but have developed negative feelings towards it for no apparent reason lately, it might be a sign you need to take a mental health day.

Spend your mental health day on self-reflection and relaxation if you are experiencing burnout. Remind yourself why you loved your job in the first place and evaluate what has changed that could be causing your disinterest in it – and then come up with a plan on how to address the issues.

READ ALSO: 10 Ways to Live a More Fulfilling Life

  1. Disturbed sleep

Why is it so hard to fall or stay asleep, yet you are tired? Why do you keep thinking about what you need to do tomorrow? Why can’t your mind stop racing? Insomnia or disturbed sleep are some of the signs you need to take a mental health day off work.

Lack of sleep is associated with many health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, as well as mental and emotional health issues.

Not sleeping well for a few nights is not a cause for alarm. However, when you start to experience regular sleepless nights, this could be a sign of poor mental health. It could be that you are overworked, work in a toxic environment, or are anxious about losing your job.

Anxiety keeps you in a state of hyper-arousal that makes it difficult for your brain activities to slow down enough for you to sleep. You need a mental health day to try to catch up on sleep or form a new sleep routine.

READ ALSO: 10 Ways to Overcome Insomnia Naturally

  1. You are too emotional

You are probably an emotional person, and that is okay. You are human and having an emotional response to things or events is normal. It shows people what you are feeling.

However, when you notice that you are experiencing unexplainable crying episodes often, it could be a sign you need to take a mental health day. There may be an underlying cause for your unusual behavior you must identify.

Feeling overwhelmed with work, other events unrelated to work, or poor mental health could be the reasons you are overly emotional. The most common mental health issues that can make you too emotional are bipolar disorder, stress, anxiety, and depression

Crying has numerous benefits for your mental health as it is a way for the body to eliminate toxins, relieve pain, and enhance your mood.

When you notice you are crying more than you usually do, the best thing is to take a mental health day and spend it self-reflecting or seeking professional help.

READ ALSO: How to Think Positive Thoughts When Everything Feels Negative

  1. You keep getting sick

Does it seem like you are always getting sick nowadays? You had a cold last week. You had some other ailment the week before. This could be your body’s way of communicating with you that you need to slow down and take a mental health sick day.

Research indicates that there is a connection between stress and physical illness. Stress weakens the immune system, thus making you more susceptible to viral infections.

Frequent illnesses for no clear reason are signs you need a mental health day. Finding ways to de-stress and going for a medical checkup should be on your list of things to do on your mental health day.

  1. You feel lonely and isolated

Feeling lonely and isolated are signs you need to take a mental health day, especially for extroverts working remotely, who perhaps, also live alone.

Loneliness is a complex phenomenon because everyone experiences it differently. One person could be alone without feeling lonely while another could be lonely while surrounded by people.

Loneliness occurs when your need for social contact or interaction is not possible.

Prolonged periods of social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness that might result in your having negative thoughts. This could be an early sign of depression, and if identified early enough, you can prevent it from affecting your quality of life by taking a mental health day.

READ ALSO: The Health Risks of Being a Writer and How to Prevent Them

How to Spend Your Mental Health Day Effectively

Now that you know the signs you need to take a mental health day, you might be wondering how to spend it. But there is no specific way to spend your mental health day.

Everyone is different, and you have to find what helps you de-stress and get your energy back up. However, you can spend your mental health day doing some of the activities listed below and see what works for you. Here’s how to spend your mental health day;

Things to do on your mental health day

  1. Get a good night’s sleep
  2. Spend your mental health day with your family
  3. Unplug from work completely
  4. Get out of the house and go for a nature walk or explore your neighborhood
  5. Connect with your friends
  6. Address the issues you have been putting off e.g pay your bills or go to a doctor’s appointment
  7. Relax by meditating, doing yoga, listening to music, or going to the spa
  8. Unpack your feelings by writing them down
  9. Do something you love, e.g., hobbies such as reading a good book, cooking, painting, playing an instrument, binge-watching your favorite shows, etc.
  10. Try aromatherapy at home to relax
  11. Eat healthy foods 
  12. Exercise
  13. Go to an appointment with a therapist
  14. Do nothing (and that will be perfectly okay)

Final Words

Getting a sick day from work when you have a specific, known illness is easy because you and your superiors at work can tell when you are physically ill.

Knowing when you are not okay mentally is not as easy. You may ignore all the signs you need a mental health day, only to realize when it is too late. And even then, you may not seek the help you require.

Unfortunately, most people are hesitant to request mental health days at work because of the stigma associated with mental illness. They will choose to ignore the signs they need a mental health day and continue working, not realizing that they are risking their health and lives.

You should be aware that you are the one who will suffer most if your condition becomes worse. If you are showing any of the above signs, it might mean you are not in a good place mentally or emotionally, and you need to take a mental health day.

Use the above tips to learn how to spend your mental health day effectively.

Have you ever taken a mental health day? If you have, how did you spend it?

NOTE: If you are struggling or need someone to talk to, please reach out to a friend or family member, or call these hotlines for help: Suicide prevention hotlines for all countries.

This is the first installment in the Mental Health Awareness Month series by Aisles of Life. Read the other posts in the series here:

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Read more articles from Aisles of Life here.


    1. Thank you for your kind words. It is truly a very important topic and I wish everyone would talk about it.
      I will be doing several articles on it in the coming days because May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I want to do my part.

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