Identifying The Need For A Day Off
1Think about your sleeping pattern. Whether you’ve experienced nightmares that have been waking you up at night or overall insomnia, a disrupted sleeping pattern can signal stress and a feeling of anxiety. Monitor your sleep in the last six weeks. Have you noticed a difference? Do you sleep significantly less?
- Use sleeping pills with caution. Their usefulness is debated and there are accidental deaths linked to them. Never use them without talking to your doctor.
- There are several reasons for which you might not sleep. Make sure your mattress is good and your bedroom dark. You should also talk about your sleeping problems with your doctor. You might be suffering from a condition such as sleep apnea.
2Reflect on your stress tolerance. You don’t deal with stress as well as you used to and you feel more fragile. Each deadline is a source of major anxiety and you don’t know how to cope anymore. If you notice a negative evolution in your stress tolerance, it’s probably time to act.
- A lower tolerance to stress than usual is usually a sign of exhaustion or burnout.
- Don’t feel guilty and don’t lose faith in your ability to work if you’re more stressed than usual. We all have ups and downs.
- If you work in an abusive environment where the boss is using stress as a tool to increase productivity, a day off will not help. You should talk to your trade-union or HR and see if the law is on your side.
3Discuss with your family and friends. Those who know you the best, your family and friends, will probably notice if you’re in desperate need for a break. Talk with them about your stress and ask them for their opinion. If you have a strong relationship, they will give you the best advice.
- Remember that communication is fundamental in a relationship. If you have been fighting with your partner recently, explain that you feel pressurised at work and are struggling. Let your partner express his/her feelings too. It’s important to realise that a stressed person is difficult to live with.
4Check that you’re not suffering from a serious condition. A day off is ideal to relax but not enough when you have a serious physical or mental condition. You should talk to a doctor or a specialist if you suspect a depression or any other health issue.
- Identify the signs. If you feel sad and down for weeks or months, you might be depressed. Depression is a real illness and has nothing to do with being weak.
- If you notice any unusual symptom, such as a rapid loss of weight, go immediately to your doctor.
Planning Your Day In Advance
1Identify the right day. Plan your mental health day during a slow time at work. Make sure your day off doesn’t bring stress on others. Check the calendar and your schedule to ensure your day off works for everyone.
- Pick a Friday or a Monday if you don’t work during the week-end. Three days without working can do miracles.
2Plan with your boss and colleagues. Instead of saying that you are stressed, just tell your boss that you have a few important personal appointments or matters to address and would like the day off from work.
- Be calm and confident in your approach and reassure him/her that you will have your work covered and/or deadlines met in time.
- Don’t pretend to be sick. If your boss doesn’t believe you, you might be in trouble.
- Don’t tell co-workers or clients that you need a mental health day. Some people are unfortunately intolerant toward health issues.
- Find a co-worker to back you up if there is an emergency at work and you’re needed.
- Consult with human resources to figure out how to categorize your day off. In some cases, the company may have actual mental health days built into your benefits – another reason why you should not feel guilty.
3Ask your family for peace. You might want to make the day off about you and only you. It shouldn’t be about fetching the little one at school or buying nappies. Discuss the planning in advance and make sure that everybody will respect your peace and quiet.
- Offer to do more for the household before or after your day off to compensate. The key is respect and understanding.
- Tell your family not to call you on your mental health day, except in case of emergency.
- If you want, it’s also perfectly fine to spend your day with your family. It’s all about what you want!
4Determine what you will do in advance. You want to make sure that your day off work is as relaxing as possible. A bit of preparation will help considerably. Make sure that you have all you need in advance. You don’t want to get stuck in a line at the supermarket’s cashier on your day off.
- Make a list the day before and go buy what you need. Buy the essential, such as food and drinks, but don’t forget things that might make you happy.
- Make a schedule of your day and fit in priority what you would really want to do.
5Create a good resting environment. It’s better not to have any work at hand for your day off. Leave everything at your office place. Turn off your phone and avoid your emails. Make a resolution that you will not work and truly commit to taking your mental health care day seriously.
- If you want to keep your phone turned on, make sure to turn off the emails to avoid any temptation.
Making The Most Of Your Day Off
1Catch up on sleep. If you’ve been exhausted or not sleeping, your day off should be spent in bed, resting your body and brain. You don’t need to sleep the whole time if you don’t want to, but you should definitely allow yourself to rest a few more hours than usual.
- Don’t forget to disconnect the alarm.
- Once you’re awake, take a long and warm bath to relax your muscles.
- If doing chores and housework will make you feel a little saner on your day off, go for it. A mental health day doesn’t mean that you have to just sit around relaxing. In some cases, restoring order to your surroundings will bring you to a place of peace.
2Go for a nice meal. You’ve been working so much that you have eaten your sandwiches in front of your computer for the last four months. It’s time to go to a restaurant and enjoy a lazy lunch with a friend.
- Go for a healthy meal and don’t eat too much if you don’t want to feel sleepy during the whole afternoon.
3Relax your body. Office work is stressful for the body and the spirit. There are several activities which will allow your muscles to stretch and your mind to relax. Here are a few suggestions:
- There’s nothing like sport to make you spend some energy and stretch in a fun way. Try to pick a sport you like and avoid injuries!
- Go for a massage to feel truly relaxed and pampered.
- Aromatherapy is a good alternative. It is relatively cheap and can make you feel very good.
4Reconnect with friends and family. If work has taken you away from the ones you love, spend the day making time to be with those important folks. For example if you’ve been working endless hours, seven days a week and haven’t had a chance to spend time with your daughter, plan an entire day around what she wants to do.
- You can also combine a few nice activities at the same time. Why not having a go at a good restaurant with your friends before heading for a massage with your family?
5Avoid any guilt. If you’re a workaholic, you will probably feel uncomfortable or guilty during your day off. Brush this feeling aside. Everybody deserves a day off once in a while and should be allowed to relax.
- Remember that you need to care for yourself in order to continue being a productive worker and present parent/ family member.
- Things at the office will not fall apart if you’re gone for one day.
- Getting a break can help you refuel and regain creativity to approach new problems.
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