If we think about it, the need for a mental health day has risen now more than ever. Everyone at some point has to deal with various stressful issues. Be it home or the office, we all sometimes need some time off to focus on our mental wellbeing. This is especially important if you or your employees have symptoms of anxiety or depression.
A study reports that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy nearly US$ 1 trillion each year in terms of lost productivity.
Taking a mental health day can sometimes be the best thing you can do for yourself.
So how can your employees or even you, take a mental day off work? And while you take one, what should you be doing?
In this article, we will see how to take a mental health break along with a few things you or your employees should do during your mental health break. So let’s begin.
World Mental Health Day
Every year on October 10th, World Mental Health Day is celebrated all over the world. The objective is to make people aware of how important it is to take a mental health break every so often. Additionally, the aim is to highlight mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health initiatives. How can you observe mental health day? Consider the following methods to improve the mental health of employees, not just on one day but every day.
Consider Group Therapy
Support groups are a great way to help people struggling with mental issues like stress. Getting to meet other people, sharing stories can go a long way in reducing some of these burdens. However, the choice should be theirs because many people like to be left alone during such times and group therapy can add stress for them.
Nurture the Mind
The past year has presented us with new stressors. It is a great idea to nurture the mind with meditation and some light physical activity during such times. At your workplace, dedicate a separate place for such activities to take place. Meditation is known to help reduce stress levels and exercise helps lower anxiety and lower stress levels.
Recognize Your Employees
Appreciating your employees for their hard work is a great way to increase their energy levels. It has many benefits and in fact, a study reveals that appreciating someone or expressing gratitude has a great impact on the mental health of both the giver and receiver.
Let Your Employees Lead Their Day
During stressful days, ask your employees how they’d like to start their day. What may work for one employee, may not for another. It’s good to make them feel in charge of their workload, even if it is only partially true. It’ll help them feel valued and cared for.
How to Take a Mental Health Day?
To avoid being stressed out, take some time off work. Doing so will prevent your employees from overwork and burnout. For that, they can take the following steps:
Plan a day off for mental health day ahead of the schedule. Clear all pressing tasks by finishing things earlier or shifting them to another day. Your employees’ mental health should be a priority and steps should be taken to help avoid a stressful day.
Although it makes sense to plan a mental health day a few days before, it will sometimes not be the case. There may be times your employees wake up unproductive and feel stressed out. In this case, make sure you offer a flexible policy for them to take an impromptu mental health day for themselves.
Calling in Sick
Employees, if they feel the need, can call in sick for a mental health break as well. It is your responsibility to allow your employees to take some time off work to just focus on their mental health. When employees don’t feel mentally well, they wouldn’t be able to give their best on a workday.
Make the Best of Weekend
The weekends are made for us to relax and enjoy. It is important that your employees don’t take their work into the weekends. Encourage them to make the best of those days off and enjoy their time with their family. The idea of weekends should be to come back on Monday with good mental and physical health.
What to Do on a Mental Health Day?
Even after taking some time off work, most of us don’t indulge in healthy activities that help us get our right headspace back. So what to do on a mental health day?
Get Proper Sleep
Encourage your employees to sleep well. Insufficient sleep is linked with high levels of stress. Experts tell us to take at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep in order to remain healthy. Adding a peaceful sleep to their daily regimen will help your employees prevent stress at work.
Never Skip Breakfast
All our lives we are told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Breakfast helps increase our glucose levels which in turn helps with our alertness and energy levels. Skip breakfast and you have the perfect recipe for a stressful and irritating day at work.
Leave the Work Behind
You take a mental health day off work to focus on your mental well-being, right? In this case, if there’s one thing that you must avoid, it is work. This time is meant for your employees to do things that they enjoy and not to worry about how much is pending or that they have another day at work tomorrow. While they’re at it, they shouldn’t think of the past and definitely not worry about their future. Living in the moment is key.
Doing Something You Like
Encourage your employees to do something enjoyable while they’re on their mental health break. These may include activities that your employees don’t get to do on a regular basis. If someone likes painting, have a relaxing day painting. Is a phenomenal singer wanting to practice? Do that. The idea of taking a stress day off work is to make the most of it by not worrying about anything and just allowing the mind to switch off.
Have you heard of ASMR? If not, it’s time to make friends with it. Autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR is a tingly relaxing feeling that we get after watching videos that elicit this response. Research claims that it helps relieve negative mood symptoms, including feelings of depression or stress.
Meditation is known to relieve stress. Practicing meditation produces a relaxation response even in young adults who have never practiced meditation before. The practice of meditation reduces physiological stress responses too.
Practice Yoga and Exercise
While your employees are on a mental health day off work, they should indulge in exercises that keep them healthy. Even half an hour of resistance training or just 40 minutes of walking is a great remedy for taking the stress away from our system.
Additionally, they can and must practice yoga to reduce their stress levels. A little physical activity goes a long way in improving our mental health. Plus, it will make your employees get back to work in the proper headspace.
The beauty of nature heals many things, our mental health is one of them. Encourage your employees to take a trip to their favorite nature park. Make the best of their day by going on a picnic with their families and spending a nice day out in the Sun. Even a hike in the mountains or a walk through the forest sometimes has positive effects on our mental health.
If Not a Day, Try Short Breaks
Sometimes, a short break during a stressful workday works wonders for your employees’ mental health. Even a 15 minutes break in which they can listen to some music, meditate, walk or read something light has many positive effects on mental wellbeing.
If a lack of sleep is causing your employees to stress out, they need to complete their sleep quota. Taking a nap is a great way to begin. A 30-minute power nap is sometimes a great remedy to help us regain our strength.
Things Not to Do on Your Mental Health Break
While a mental health day should be your day where you get to do everything you want, there are several things you may want to avoid.
Stay Away from Social Media
Spending an unhealthy amount of time scrolling through social media has disastrous effects on both our mental and physical health. While it is definitely our eyesight that is at stake, our mental health gets upset when we spend an entire day reading useless posts on social media. Limiting the time on using it is the key. Your employees can use their phones to set up those limits for themselves, ensuring a healthy time spent on every app.
Avoid Eating Unhealthy Food
While a safe amount of it is fine, eating too much unhealthy food may risk your physical health. It is a common tendency for people to binge eat when they’re stressed. This, in turn, stores more fat than usual, leading to serious health problems. In fact, thirty-eight percent of adults say they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress.
Stay Away From Negative Emotions
When your employees are taking a mental health sick day, they should keep their negative thoughts at a bay. Doing so will not only make their stress worse but they will never be on the way to improvement. Disconnecting from technology, spending a healthy time, doing things you enjoy is some advice to follow.
When to Take a Mental Health Day
So when and how often should you take a mental health day?
Many psychologists prefer that we take a mental health day before we feel we’re stressed or burnt out. Dr. Bukky Kolawale says ‘my best recommendation would be that people plan to take a mental health day proactively rather than reactively.’
How many times you take the mental health break depends on the severity. However, the only issue at hand is that most of us won’t be able to plan ahead to take a mental health day because of our hefty to-do lists. In this case, make sure you notice signs in your employees that are screaming that they’re in the dire need of some time off work. It is usually a great idea for your employees to take a mental health day off work if:
Always look for the physical signs. Chronic fatigue may be one of those signs that tell the condition of your employees. If they look exhausted even after a good night’s sleep, maybe it’s time for them to take a break.
Their Reliance on Caffeine Increases
Keep an eye on how much caffeine and even nicotine your employees take regularly. If the amount exceeds a dangerous level, there can possibly be an underlying issue. At this point, it’s a great idea for you to have a little time with them and check in on how they’re doing. If the need arises, you can offer them time off work to gain their mental strength back.
Their Focus has Lowered
See if your high-performing employees suddenly go from being laser-focused to distracted. Not being able to focus on work can have several reasons and personal issues can be one of them. If that is the case, it’s best if your employee takes some rest.
They’re Feeling Less Productive
Although productivity tends to fluctuate between your employees, if it keeps getting worse, you need to think about what the cause is. Lower work productivity can also be a sign that your employees are in the need of a few mental health days.
Mental health is as important as our physical health. In the harrowing times, we live in, it’s high time employers allow their employees to take time off work to work on their mental health. Not only will it help with their productivity, but they’ll also come back to work rested and raring to go.