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No shame in taking a mental health day

Posted on 01-25-2016 Posted in Anxiety, Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Stress - 0 Comments

taking a mental health day

Have a job? Congratulations. It’s a fair assumption you probably work hard at it.

You might be working too hard. In measuring “work-life balance”, the 2013 OECD Better Life Index put the United States in the 28th spot in a study of 36 advanced nations.Americans work very hard, and they worry about it, too. The American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence found 65 percent of Americans cited work as a top source of stress. More than one-third of working Americans reported experiencing chronic work stress. Only 37 percent of thesurvey respondents said they were doing an excellent or very good job managing their stress.

Although some stress is beneficial from time to time, stress can also be a serious health hazard, particularly if it’s chronic stress. The APA warns chronic stress can cause digestive disorders and even heart disease. Stress can build up gradually and subtly, too, until a person’s in crisis.

Fortunately, there’s some simple things anyone can do to reduce stress – mindfulness meditation can be a powerful stress reliever, for instance. But there’s something else the hard-working stressed American can do from time to time: Take a mental health day.

Knowing when – and how – to take a day is critical

For those few who’ve never heard the term, a “mental health day” is commonly understood to mean a person taking a sick day from work when they’re not physically sick. It’s a way for most workers to take a short breather from stressful and overwhelming work environments. Brandon M. Smith, a workplace therapist, provided four common signs of needing a mental health day to Business Insider:

  • Sleeping problems or insomnia
  • Not being able to get rid of past stress
  • Become short-tempered with family, friends and coworkers
  • Feeling apathetic towards your work

Although there’s workplace stigmas about taking sick days when you’re not sick, remember stress is a serious problem, particularly if it’s being driven by events outside of the workplace, like a sick relative, a condition like bipolar disorder or a pending divorce or funeral. Writing for, John Grohol, Psy.D. provided some important tips for taking a sick day the right way:

  • Use your boss’ voicemail or send an email. Grohol suggests it’s a good way to avoid awkward questions and situations.
  • Keep your message brief. Don’t go into complex details.
  • Send your message as early as possible. It’ll help with task management.

The best way to take a mental health day is to plan ahead. Waiting until the stress becomes unbearable and then calling in sick isn’t as effective. It puts more work on your coworkers – likely dealing with the same stressors you are – and deceiving your supervisor is playing a risky game.

So plan ahead. Get used to managing your mental health and pay attention to upcoming periods you know are going to be especially stressful – those are the good times to take a mental health day, and planning in advance will allow your colleagues to work around your absence. Everybody needs an occasional break, and supervisors should take note: some studies have shown a stressed workforce is actually less productive.

Sovereign Health of Florida is a leading health care provider for mental health disorders. If you or a loved one is dealing with depression, anxiety or another condition impacting your quality of life, contact our 24/7 helpline now. Our treatment professionals can give you more information on your condition and treatment options. We tailor our treatment to the needs of the individual to ensure success. A happier life can start today.

Written by Brian Moore, Sovereign Health Group writer

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