About three or four weeks ago, I started feeling really burnt out and like I desperately needed time off from work. Mental health days were not something that we officially had at work and if I wanted time off, I would have needed to book time off from my PTO. (Fun fact- it wasn’t burn-out. I was experiencing the early stages of the Coronavirus). This got me thinking about how exactly one would go about taking a mental health day if that wasn’t something provided by your company.

Here are my tips on how to take a mental heath day:

1. Monitor Yourself for Signs of Exhaustion or Burn-Out: The idea here is for you to catch it before it becomes a problem. The second you realize you need a time-out, book your leave. Do not wait for it to worsen. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. You need YOU to be performing at your best in life whether this is for family, friends or your place of work. Keep an eye on how you’re feeling so that you can refill your cup as soon as you need to.

2. Schedule Your Time Off in Advance: Note that I used the word “schedule”. That is because this is important. Request your PTO far enough in advance that you can ensure that 1) anything that is going to cause you stress can be taken care off BEFORE you take your mental health day and 2) you are able to plan a proper mental health day.

3. It’s a Mental Health Day…Act Like It: So no work emails (if it’s an emergency, they can call 911), no feeling guilt and no negativity. Do something for you and something that you would enjoy whether it’s watching a movie or shark-diving.

4. Maybe You Might Need More than A Day: You might need a mental health week as opposed to a day. That is perfectly okay. You do what is best for you.

A mental health day might not be something offered by every company but you can still (and should) take time off to destress and relax.

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