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Long hours at work can take a toll on your well-being and lead to stress. Those times when your work-life balance is off can be especially difficult to manage when you begin feeling overwhelmed. That’s when a break to reset may be needed. You've likely heard of someone taking a mental health day, but what does that mean? A mental health day is a day meant to help reduce stress and burnout. It can provide a pause to come back with more energy, less stress and a renewed spirit.

When and how to ask for a mental health day

It’s important that you learn to recognize signs of burnout before they affect your physical health. Scheduling your day off in advance guarantees the day away while also allowing you to plan your absence. You don't want the days leading up to your mental health day to cause more stress, so preparing in advance is important. However, poor mental health can creep up unexpectedly. If you wake up in the morning especially stressed, down or anxious, this may be a good time to take a mental health day. Remember you can always schedule your mental health day on a day when you are not scheduled to work. Use your personal judgement and listen to your mind and body.

What to do on a mental health day

After you’ve decided on when and how you want to take your mental health day, it's time to figure out what to do. First, be thoughtful about what you need most. Do you need to relax? A little bit of self care? Maybe you need some time with family or friends or a day of shopping and pampering. Spend your day on activities that boost your physical and mental wellness. You know yourself best, so think about what it is that would make you feel re-energized.  If you need more time than just one day, consider taking a vacation or mini getaway close to home.  

Am I dealing with workaholism?

Being a hard worker is a desired characteristic in our society, but there is a fine line between being a hard worker and a workaholic. If work life seems to be creeping into your personal life and you're concerned that you may have a work addiction, you may want to bring up your concerns with your primary care provider or mental health professional. Involving a healthcare professional is a great way to gain perspective, reflect on how your job involvement may be affecting your overall health and well-being and figure out ways to improve your relationship with your work.

It can be all too easy to convince yourself that poor mental health isn't a good enough reason to take time off work. Remember that your mental health is just as important to your overall well-being as your physical health. Taking time for yourself is crucial to maintain your overall health and well-being. 

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