When it’s a beautiful sunny day, or you are just plain run down, it’s tempting to fake cough down the phone and spend the day binge-watching Handmaid’s Tale (or whatever your recent addiction is) or lying around at the beach.

Sick days are usually reserved for those occasions where you feel like death warmed up, but there’s nothing better for the soul than a sickie, where you could have gone to work but the lure of the beach or staying longer in bed is much too enticing. Add in the fact that everyone else expects you to be at work, and you have a heavenly ‘me’ day ahead of you with no obligations.

These are usually referred to as ‘mental health’ days and while typically frowned upon by employers, they can work wonders for your mindset when used in moderation.

Clinical psychologist at Duke University, Shannon Byrne believes mental health days are great stress relievers and can even improve an individuals mood, energy, and motivation. While employers and colleagues might regard days like this as slacking off, the occasional day with downtime has become integral to keeping your mental wellbeing on track. We all need ‘me time’ occasionally—no kids, no partner, just you and the freedom to do whatever the hell you like so why not do that’s good for you? 

Signs you need a mental health day 

1. You’re snappy
In fact, you’re so snappy your colleagues are beginning to wonder if you’ve eaten crocodile for breakfast or whether you’re just a b*tch. 

  1. You’re mentally exhausted
    Everything makes you feel tired, just the thought of actually having to think makes you feel tired, let alone deal with angry clients. 
  2. You feel teary
    You get given a task at work and feel like crying. Someone steals your stapler and you do cry. 
  3. You can’t concentrate
    You find yourself staring at your computer screen and realise its been an hour and you’ve done nothing.
  4. The thought of being stuck in the same routine is making you depressed.
    You get up before the sun rises, shower, eat, go to work, come home, watch tv, fall asleep, repeat. It’s enough to make anyone depressed.
  5. If it’s going around the office, you’ll catch it
    From gastro to influenza, it doesn’t matter what it is, you’ll get it, suffer through and catch something else. 

Unfortunately, most employers don’t think ‘I just need a day off to myself’ is a valid excuse for sick leave, that’s what annual leave is for. Most of us prefer to save our annual leave for when we’re jetting off somewhere fabulous.

How to spend your mental health day 

It can be tempting to spend your mental health day vegetating with the remote control in your hand, binge-watching those TV series you rarely get time for, however, there’s nothing more therapeutic than getting outdoors in the sunshine. Coordinate your day off with a friend and go for walk, pamper time at a spa, take a picnic and a good book to the beach or a park. You’ll be surprised at what one day off can do for you physically and psychologically. 

Image of @wholesomestef 

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