We tend to treat mental and emotional health differently from physical health. If you woke up feeling too sick to work, you wouldn’t hesitate to call in and let your boss know you were unable to come to work that day. However, if you woke up feeling deep anxiety or depression, would it be as acceptable to call in then? This question received the spotlight this week when a young woman, Parker, messaged her team to let them know she was taking a mental health day. Upon returning to work the next day, she received an email from her boss commending her for being an “example” of taking the time needed to take care of herself.
Excited about the response, she posted it on Twitter and it almost immediately went viral with people commenting with their own experiences, usually negative, when they tried to do the same thing, and commending her boss for being different in his response.
This story highlights an important truth – our mental and emotional health is just as important as our physical health. As we take time to stay physically healthy by eating nutritious food, exercising, and sleeping more, we should also be spending time keeping ourselves mentally healthy. This can be done by meditating, doing things that we like and need to do to cheer ourselves up, spending time with family and friends, and getting needed sleep. Truly, taking some time for ourselves away from our job stimulates mental health.
For employers, being aware of and compassionate about employees’ needs is important. Allow employees the time they need to rejuvenate and build up their mental stamina in the same way you would allow them to do so physically. Passive-aggressive threats, unkind responses, and denying leave can cause massive burnout, lower morale, and hurt the employee further.
For those who feel they need a mental health day, talk to your employer. Be as open as you need to be with them to let them know your need for a day for yourself. However, do not abuse that need. Know when you need a day for yourself and when you just want a day off. This will build confidence and improve your relationship with upper management.
Take time for yourself. Be aware of your mental and emotional health and when you feel you need it, take a step back from work for a while to take care of yourself. You will then be able to return with greater effectiveness.