Mental health isn’t something that some people have and others don’t. We all have it, good or bad. And everyone is on a sliding scale of mental health, changing positions on that scale as we go through life, challenges, experiences.

It’s how we deal with our mental health that makes all the difference. Stress levels are different for everyone and they’re made more complex if you suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety. When stress levels feel like they’re rising beyond normal levels, it could be time to take some time out.

Research carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that absence caused by mental ill health costs more than a trillion dollars on a global basis, every year.

Taking a mental health day

In times such as these, when there’s so much uncertainty about, our mental health can take a real battering. It’s crucial, every now and again, to take a mental health day – some time out, specifically geared towards reducing stress and preventing burnout.

A single day might not be enough to solve heavy, underlying stress issues, but a break from the stresses and strains of every day life can do wonders for pausing, refreshing and reinvigorating.

Tips for making the most of a mental health day

Once you’ve decided to take a mental health day, plan it in. Mark it in the diary and make sure it happens. Rearrange your workload and ensure there’s cover for the time you’ll be off. That way you can relax and enjoy your time off without worrying what you’ll face when you return.

If you need an ad hoc mental health day, don’t be afraid to leave everything until tomorrow. You’ll be able to deal with everything better and more productively once you’ve had the time to clear your mind and relax.

Use an existing leave day to concentrate on your mental health. Do what feels right – if you want to stay in your PJs and catch up on your Netflix list then do that. If you need nature to reset your mental health, head out into the countryside for a relaxing day of walking. Book in a spa treatment or indulge in your favourite hobby. Find something that suits you and enjoy it.

If your employer doesn’t support mental health days yet, put aside a weekend day to allow for a reset. Don’t make any plans for one day and just do whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed. The pressure to keep busy, even at the weekend, often adds to our feelings of stress and anxiety so try to plan in some down time.

How should a mental health day help?

A successful mental health day should help you:

  • Destress
  • Take some time to understand your emotions
  • Relax
  • Allow your brain to slow down
  • Physically rest
  • Take some time to evaluate your current situation

Without allowing your body and mind to catch up, even the smallest problems can feel like mountains to climb. Taking a mental break will allow your mind to relax and establish the real issues. Solutions are easier to find with a clearer mind.

What NOT to do with a mental health day

Some things are counter-productive when it comes to how to spend a mental health day. Here are some of the things you should NOT do:

  • Avoid seeing family and friends – they might be able to help with the things that are causing you stress
  • Spend the day indulging in unhealthy pursuits
  • Allow yourself to dwell on negative emotions
  • Disappear down the rabbit hole that is social media

Listen to you body and mind. If you’re exhausted, rest. If you need fresh air, head outside. If you need to relax, book a spa treatment. Be good to yourself.

For more information about support for you and employees about wellbeing and mental health, we’ve teamed up with the NHS Employment Specialists in North Tyneside who are here to help you with just that. Mary Warwick-Greer and Mark Cooper can be contacted at mary.warwick-greer@cntw.nhs.uk and Mark.Cooper@cntw.nhs.uk. They are both here to explain what the NHS IPS Employment Service is, what they do and how to have a conversation about mental health.

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