11 Signs You Need a Mental Health Day

In the past, mental health has been heavily stigmatized. Whether it’s therapy, self-care, or taking a mental health day—all of it was a no-no unless you had some BIG mental health problem. However, in recent years, people have finally come around to realizing that everyone needs to take care of not just their body, but their mind and soul, too. 

It’s not an option! In fact, mental health is integral to great physical health as well. One of the best ways to care for your mental health, especially if you’re delinquent on your self-care practices, is to take a mental health break. 

But, how do you know if it’s time to use a sick day, take a break from work, and practice self-care instead? That’s what we’re exploring today! Here’s our roundup of mental and physical symptoms that might be your body’s way of telling you it’s time to take a mental health day:

Signs you need a mental health day

11 Signs You Need a Mental Health Day

+ You are no longer passionate about work or hobbies. 

+ You’re unproductive.

+ You’re irritable or sad. 

+ You are always fatigued. 

+ You’re having trouble sleeping. 

+ You have headaches all the time. 

+ You’ve withdrawn from your social group. 

+ You’re stressed no matter what. 

+ You’re getting sick all the time. 

+ You find yourself indulging in unhealthy habits more. 

+ People have voiced concern for your wellbeing. 

Signs you need a mental health day

Benefits of Taking a Mental Health Day

Increase your productivity. 

When you’re dealing with anxiety and depressive episodes due to burnout and poor mental health, you can’t be productive. Your lack of productivity leads to more bad feelings, and it’s an exhausting cycle. Plus, if you’re not being productive at work, your lack of productivity could result in disciplinary action by management that’s totally unnecessary. 

Really, you just need a break. Your inability to focus is because your mind hasn’t gotten any time to recharge. It’s not working optimally, but it can be fixed! Taking a mental health day can give you a huge productivity boost. It gives your mind a chance to rest and prepare again for the tasks ahead!

This episode of ILYSM sums this concept up really well! In it, host Kenzie Elizabeth discusses burnout and healthy work habits. She’ll help you get back on track and stay on track with good boundaries and habits. 

Fall back in love with what you do. 

Do you feel disconnected from your job? Did you used to love it? Your days of feeling totally in love with your job don’t have to be over. But, when every day is a struggle, you can easily forget what you ever liked about work to begin with. 

When you take a mental health day, you can reflect on the past, present, and future of your job. With rest and without a mounting to-do list, you can rediscover what you love about what you do. Then, when you return to work, you can go with a reginited passion! 

Gain clarity. 

We all lose sight of our purpose from time to time. We need a sense of meaning in our lives to really feel whole and content. However, when you’re in that day-after-day grind of work and sleep, it can feel like your life has no meaning or forward momentum. 

With a mental health day, you can put work down and really focus on the future. What do you want to be? Who do you want to become? When your body is well cared for and you have your goal in mind, you’ll start feeling accomplished and satisfied with your life again! 

Reconnect with your support system.

Another huge benefit of mental health days is reconnecting with those you love. When you’re busy and mentally drained, you may only be connecting with your family and friends via social media. 

This isn’t very genuine, so when you take a mental health day, you can meet up with these people IRL. In person, your support system can encourage you, fill your social bar, and remind you how much they care. It’s a wonderful feeling that fuels your positive mental health! 

How to take a mental health break

How to Take a Mental Health Break

So, when you take a mental health day, what are you supposed to do? It’s best not to focus too much on a list of tasks, but instead, focus on what will make you feel good. Remember, how you feel matters! (Listen to Nicole Walters talk about this here.) 

On your mental health break, do what you love and create healthy habits. Rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul with activities that just feel amazing! We have some ideas below, but make sure to read our post “Ways to Improve Your Mental Health” too!

Do meditative workouts. 

Mediative workouts calm your mind and charge your body. They’re super helpful for returning to a stable mental state! In fact, exercise and meditation increase oxygen and blood flow to your brain, which forms new brain cells. This helps you focus AND betters your overall mood. 

To work on your body and mind during your mental health day, try tai chi, qigong, pilates, or yoga! The podcast Looking Up has a great episode on using yoga to build mental fortitude. It’s called “Yoga for Resiliency with Sky Ting Founders!” Check it out.

Express yourself creatively. 

We were all born with gifts and talents. If you have a creative gift, it can be easy to push that aside in favor of more practically productive tasks. However, doing creative things is great for your mind! It helps you express yourself and achieve a more self-confident and joyful mindset! 

So, on your mental health day, get out the paints or start typing that novel. Who knows, maybe practicing your creative talents will give you the sense of purpose you’ve been missing! If you’ve never really considered what your gifts are, check out the episode, “How to Discover Your Human Design & Recognize the Gifts You Were Born With” from the Skinny Confidential’s Him & Her podcast

Hit the spa. 

Do we really need to tell you why you should go to the spa on your mental health day? It’s the ultimate self-care experience! Whether you like a deep tissue massage or a polishing pedicure, getting to the spa will remind you your body and mind are worth taking care of! 

Sleep in!

There is nothing wrong with sleeping in, especially on your day off. Sleeping in isn’t just a good way of treating yourself, but it has lots of benefits for your body and mind! When you sleep, you strengthen your immune system, better your mood, boost focus, and you gain more patience for people. (We all need that!) 

Get some extra shut-eye, and learn more about the benefits of sleep with Dr. Will Cole from The Art of Being Well. He has a few episodes on sleep, but the one titled “The Minimum Method for a Stronger, Healthier, Happier You” has some really practical advice perfect for your mental health break. 

Clean up your house. 

Mess and clutter has a real impact on your mental health. It can be distracting and anxiety-inducing. Plus, the overwhelming nature of the task of cleaning can lead to some unhealthy coping and avoidance tactics. Things like watching a lot of TV, eating too much junk food, or sleeping too often can stem from a messy house. 

Letting go of clutter and cleaning up on a day off can do wonders on your mental health. It can make you feel accomplished and motivate you to conquer even more! Walking back into work with a strong sense of achievement will definitely make you more productive. Plus, the more peaceful living space will ensure your home stays a relaxing oasis.

Get organized. 

Of course, you need to get THINGS organized, but it’s a good idea to organize your mind too! Come up with some systems and processes that will help you maintain your mental health, productivity levels, and mood. 

Developing a routine, creating morning/evening rituals, writing out your schedule, developing a meal plan, laying out prepared outfits, and creating a command center are all great ways to get organized and reduce day-to-day stress.

Get outside. 

Part of the reason you may be feeling like there’s a dark cloud hanging over you is because you haven’t actually seen the clouds! You’ve been stuck inside working or sleeping, and your body is just begging you to get out. 

So, get outside on your mental health day. Take a walk. Read on the porch. Garden. Or, head to a local park or zoo. Just find a way to get some vitamin D. That sunlight can improve immunity, focus, mood, sleep, and more! 

Meet up with people you love. 

Don’t stay in alone all day. Instead, spend time with family members and friends to re-establish your connection and rebuild your support system. Their company will bring you joy, and remembering who you have in your corner will give you strength as you head back to the grind. 

Binge a podcast. 

Podcasts are the perfect mental health day experience! Not only can you gain deeper insights into your mental health or any other topic you’re passionate about, but you can do it while cleaning, driving, exercising, or resting! Multi-task and feel fulfilled at the end of your break by adding podcasts to the mix. There are plenty out there to suit your taste! 

Attend appointments and run errands you’ve been putting off. 

When your levels of stress are through the roof, you’re focused on surviving. You are NOT focused on taking care of your body. Suddenly, doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, insurance calls, hair cuts, and other things just get dropped to the bottom of the to-do list and NEVER happen. 

Scheduling your appointments will make you feel accomplished and it’ll set a precedent for how you’ll take care of yourself in the future. No more skipping! When you attend appointments, schedule the next one right away. And, if you run an errand like grocery shopping, picking up the dry cleaning, etc, immediately plan when you’ll do that task again! This way, you won’t miss it and it will quickly become a positive habit!

When was the last time you took a mental health day?

Taking a mental health day is anything but selfish. In order to stay effective at work and in every other area of your life, you need to take a break. Though mental health support can be hard to come by and you may feel push-back from your employer, don’t underestimate the importance of your self-care. 

For more advice on mental health and managing your career, check out The Career Contessa episode “Round-Up: The Best Mental Health Advice from 2022.” These are vital tips that’ll affirm your mental state matters and give you tips to maintain it as you’re striving toward your goals. Check back with us weekly for more great self-help content and podcast recommendations!