Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid To Take A Mental Health Day

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it's how important our mental health is to our overall wellbeing. Due to the stigma and misconceptions attached to the idea of mental health, many people still struggle to talk about the issue openly. However, increasing awareness about the subject has helped people to talk about it and seek treatment. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, but if it happens too often and affects your personal and professional life, it's essential to address the issue. Mental health illness is a lot more prevalent than you would think. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five American adults has a mental illness, with the diagnosis of anxiety disorders being the highest at 19%. So, you're not alone in this.

If you ignore your mental health symptoms for too long, you're likely to turn to "unhealthy coping mechanisms" like drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, per Port St. Lucie Hospital. Instead of getting better, you can develop an addiction that could lead to co-occurring disorders. Furthermore, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes co-occurring disorders as "the coexistence of both a mental illness and a substance use disorder," where you will need treatment for both. When you get sick physically, it's natural to take a sick day to rest and recover to feel better. Therefore, taking a mental health day when you need to recharge also only makes sense.

Why taking a mental health day is so important

First, it's important to realize that it's okay to need to take a mental health day because life can be stressful. In fact, Dr. Ashley Hampton, a licensed psychologist, told Healthline, "If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, have trouble focusing or concentrating on work or at home, or are more irritable, then you may want to consider taking a mental health day." Healthline adds that many companies provide mental health days, so you should not "feel guilty" to take it when you need it. 

When you feel overwhelmed with life and responsibilities, taking a mental health day can help "clear your mind, improve your sleep quality, process your emotions, promote relaxation, and reduce stress" (via Verywell Mind). All those factors can make you feel better mentally and emotionally, which will definitely help you feel better about your life. Sometimes, life can feel too much, after all; during those times, it's crucial to step back and take care of yourself.

This is why you should prioritize yourself and your mental health. Self recommends taking a mental health day as "a regular tune-up — not damage control" so that you don't burn out. It's not selfish because it is self-care. On your mental health day, do what makes you happy, even if it's "to do nothing" or get in touch with loved ones. You can spend time in nature, watch a movie, or read a book. Do what you need to do because you need time to heal to be the best version of yourself.