Yes, Take That Mental Health Day Off!

By Siew Ching

Because sometimes, you need to bounce back not just from physical illness but also mental health challenges.

When you are under the weather, you call in a sick day. After all, you can’t be expected to function when you’re not 100%. So why not for when you are feeling super anxious? Mental health challenges like stress, anxiety or even a panic attack can deter you from performing your best simply because it can be difficult to focus and manage when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Fortunately, companies are now more open towards the need for their employees to take a mental health day so they can reset. In fact, some organisations even encourage it, making mental health challenges something that should not be stigmatised but instead be talked about openly.

However, the concept of a mental health day is still relatively new in Malaysia. What exactly does it mean? A mental health day is a day meant for you to rest and recover from stress, burnout, or whatever mental health challenges you are currently facing. It is the much-needed pause so you can come back with more energy and less stress.

Many of us are still reluctant to call in a sick day when we are not feeling emotionally fit. We are afraid of our colleagues and boss thinking that we’re dramatising our emotions instead of pushing through and getting over it “like everyone else”. We’re here to say this once and for all – stop feeling that way! It is important to honour how mentally fit you are as how you deal emotionally has a huge impact on your physical wellness. Constantly trying to meet deadline after deadline can cause stress to buildup, and this will eventually result in your immune system being compromised and you falling sick at the end of it all. See how it is all related?

With a mental health day, you can get the rest and time you need to reset, especially when you’ve been buried in work for months and are close to burning out. Here are more reasons why you need to call in a mental health day:

#1 It lets you catch up on much-needed rest
Imagine having worked round the clock for a few weeks – you’re bound to feel tired both physically and mentally! A mental health day will allow you to firstly sleep in (yay!), catch up on rest, and more importantly, not have to think about work so you can have a much-needed break to recharge. Think of it as a day where you “plug in your battery” so you can feel more energised and recharged to return to your everyday tasks.

#2 It lets you practise that all-important self-care
Buzzword of the moment – self-care! Why is self-care so important? Because it literally means you’re taking care of yourself and doing the things you enjoy to give you a better chance to focus and be productive! For one day, you don’t have to worry about any presentation, your client’s expectations, or your boss’s timeline. Take that mental health day to focus on yourself – and no one else!

#3 It’s an opportunity to reset
If all you do is work and work and nothing else, a mental health day is exactly the break you need to get some rest and reset. Why is resetting so important? Having working round the clock will most definitely deplete you of energy, which then robs your attention and productivity. It’s like a machine that keeps on working – eventually it will wear off! You are that machine and to prolong your “usage”, you need to shut down occasionally to rest and recover, whether it is catching up on the sleep you’ve been deprived of or spending quality time with loved ones whom you’ve been neglecting.

#4 It lets you catch up on your personal stuff
We’re not just talking about hitting the mall or checking out a new café – we’re talking about your day-to-day tasks like dental appointments, grocery shopping, or even laundry! Unfortunately, many of us let work overwhelm and take over our personal life that often tasks such as cleaning the house, banking activities are shoved to the side in the bustle of our daily grind. Use your mental health day to do all those other important stuff, not work. Catch up on your to-do lists and when you’re done and have a few extra hours, why not head on down to the new restaurant with some friends after work to unwind.

How to ask for a mental health day? Technically, you don’t have to tell anyone at work that you’re taking a day or two off because you want a break from work. That’s why they are called personal days or leave days, and you can use them to do personal stuff.

But if you feel like you need more than a few days off and your company is open to the idea of mental health day, maybe talk to your boss about scheduling some much-needed time off, especially if you’ve been working hard. Being upfront about taking care of your mental health so that you can come back a better, more productive employee can go your way – it shows that you know what it takes to be a more engaging individual at work and that you are doing service not just for yourself but the entire team to take time off to recharge so you can be a better team player.

However, disclosure is entirely up to you! Just focus on what you need and if it means taking a few mental health days off, go on, you’re entitled to it!

Share with us when you last took a mental health day and tell us how it went @Graduan.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.

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