Feeling overwhelmed and burnt out? It might be your sign to take a break. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.
When American artistic gymnast Simone Biles bowed out of the women’s team final at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, the world was in shock. She made the decision to protect her mental health, and more specifically, from the terrifying “twisties”—a sort of mental disorientation experienced mid-air.
The truth is, taking a step back from what you’re expected to do is more challenging than it looks, whether you’re an Olympic medallist or any average person. Thankfully, mental health awareness has risen in recent years due to an ongoing pandemic, new support initiatives, as well as influencers and celebrities who have come out to share their stories. If your stress levels are peaking, it might be time to rest and reset before something more serious takes a toll on your body.
What’s a mental health day?
At the heart of it, a mental health day refers to taking time off to rest, relax, and recharge for the benefit of your mental wellbeing. This could be as straightforward as a break from work or studies, as simple as a long nap, or as decadent as a tub of ice cream.
How to take a day off?
Guilt and stress often accompany the thought of rest, especially in a world where we’re conditioned by the mentality of hustling through tough times and not showing our weakness. To mitigate that, try planning for a mental health day in advance. This allows you to properly delegate your tasks to someone else or reschedule meetings if needed. Those lucky enough to have supportive employees may feel comfortable enough to share their reasons, but for most, there’s really no obligation to tell. Other options include calling in sick or using your annual leave. While there’s been a growing movement to destigmatise mental health conditions in the workplaces, some employees may not recognise it as a good reason to take time off work.
What to expect?
A mental health day isn’t a cure-all for your burgeoning burnout or deep-seated mental health issues. That said, it can certainly help you destress, relax, and give you time to rethink your perspectives and check in with your emotions. When problems in life feel overwhelming, taking a step back can result in better decisions as you re-evaluate your thought processes. If therapy is what you need, having a full day off gives you the time to consult with a mental health expert without the pressures of work at the back of your mind.
How to spend it?
You might be tempted to while the day away in your pyjamas, just chilling in bed with your favourite TV show—and there’s perfectly fine. Ask yourself what your body and mind need at this point. Some may feel better after a walk amidst nature or a gym workout, others might appreciate a catch-up with loved ones. Try to avoid indulging in vices like smoking and drinking or stuffing yourself with unhealthy snacks—moderation is key. If you already spend a lot of time on social media daily, consider a digital detox while you’re at it, by switching off notifications or even turning off your smartphone. If you’re been feeling uninspired, perhaps start a fun and creative hobby that you’ve always wanted to.