One of the luxuries of the modern work environment is the ability to call out “sick” as a means of catching one’s breath and refocusing. This is the “Mental Health Day.” Yet, for many, this mental health day comes with a pang of guilt, as if “how can I justify taking a day off because I’m stressed. Work by nature is supposed to contain some stress.” See below for one author’s conversation with a friend of hers about her “mental health day.”
Yesterday, I took a mental health day.
I’ve had a lot on my plate lately, most of it dealing with an occupation-related transition, and about half-way through my first cup of coffee yesterday morning, I decided I needed a mental health day.
Not many people knew about it simply because, aside from a few texts and a trip to Papa John’s (yes, Papa John’s – we’ll talk about that later), I didn’t really talk to anyone.
The one person I did call, though, had an…interesting reaction when she found out.
The conversation went a little something like this:
FRIEND: “What’d you do today?”
ME: “Nothing. I took a mental health day and did absolutely nothing.”
ME: (After a few seconds of stunned silence.) “I’ve been pretty stressed out, trying to make this transition as smooth as possible. It’s a lot to juggle. I needed a day to just not do anything. I don’t feel guilty about it.”
FRIEND: (After a few seconds of her own silence.) “Well…I didn’t say you should feel guilty about it. I’m just surprised. I thought you a had a lot to do.”
ME: “I do. That’s why I had to take a break.”
Don’t misunderstand – my friend isn’t clueless about mental health days or how important they can be. I think she just didn’t realize how stressed I’d been, and so she was surprised to learn I’d take an entire day off – a Monday, no less – in the midst of everything I have going on.
Despite it being a day of rest, I was mindful during yesterday’s mental health day and plan to share some of what I learned later this week.
In the meantime, share with us your thoughts about mental health days. Have you ever felt guilty about taking a mental health day? Have you ever felt the need to justify taking one?