Are mental health days good for you?

by Michelle B. Riba, MD, MS

If you have a fever, sore throat or stomach flu, you don’t hesitate to stay home from work or school. So, if you’re feeling down or stressed and need to push the pause button, is it OK to take a mental health day? Of course, but make sure you use that time to take stock of your mental health.

In today’s always-connected world, we sometimes just need a day to disconnect and breathe. Even if you take planned time off for vacations or appointments, when is the last time you took a day off just for you? One that didn’t involve planning, packing, traveling, etc? Taking mental health days to just step off the spinning wheel of everyday life can be incredibly refreshing.

If you unable or prefer not to be away from work for an extra day, plan a mental health day on one of your regular days off. Get out of your normal routine; spend the day focusing on assessing and recharging your mental health.

Use your day constructively.

If simply sleeping in and relaxing is all you need to recharge, then do it. Maybe you’d feel better getting in a good long walk, a leisurely lunch with a friend or that vigorous workout that is always eluding you during busy days. Whatever you chose to do, be sure to include some time to reflect on your life and your mental health. If one day isn’t enough to recharge your batteries, consider seeking help from a mental healthcare professional.

Most of us are responsible about seeing a dentist on a regular basis, keeping current with physicals, flu shots, mammograms/prostate exams, etc. But what about a mental healthcare check-up? A mental health day is the perfect opportunity to do just that. That doesn’t mean you need to see a professional, it just means it’s a good idea to spend some time reflecting on your mental health. Are you stressed, anxious or depressed? It can help to discuss this with a friend, family member, clergy member or physician. Sometimes that outside perspective can be incredibly valuable.

So plan that mental health day and take stock of your emotional health.

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