It might be common for someone to call out of work with a sinus infection, or yet another seasonal flu (read: killer hangover), but it's less common for people to admit when they need to take a day for their mental health. Case in point? Back in July, Olark web developer Madalyn Parker made social media waves when she posted the supportive reaction she received from her CEO, Ben Congleton, after sending an email to her colleagues about taking a mental health day.
While the positive support Parker received both from her CEO and the rest of the internet is certainly refreshing to see, as Congleton wrote on LinkedIn, "we have a lot of work to do” before Olark's acceptance of mental health days actually becomes the norm in our society.
The stigma around mental health makes it difficult for many people to even acknowledge the need to care for themselves in this way -- not to mention that actually doing so is just as important for your everyday functioning as your physical wellness.
It can be hard to recognize when exactly a mental health day is in order. Elite Daily had a chance to speak with clinical psychologist Matthew Childs, Psy.D, who helped clarify some of the signs that may mean it's time to take a day for yourself.
Keep in mind, if you ever begin to notice that these symptoms require more tending to than just a mental health day every once in a while, never be afraid to seek therapy, or to look into alternative, and potentially more affordable mental health resources.
1. Inability To Focus
Maybe you're having trouble finishing tasks, or you're struggling to clock what it is you have to do -- even if there's nothing in particular that's distracting you.
2. Diminishing Motivation
You really have no interest in doing your work, being there in the office, or communicating with anyone about what needs to be done.
This is a major sign you might need to take some space for yourself, and come back with a fresh brain.
3. Struggling For Creativity
Being totally licked for inspiration is very real, and can definitely be a sign that you're a bit overworked or stretched thin.
4. Difficulty Remembering Things
Dr. Childs says this is a big one -- overworking yourself can negatively affect your ability to learn and remember new skills.
He tells Elite Daily,
One thing that happens in rest, we re-hash what we've done that day, like if we've learned a new skill, the brain repeats the cognitive pattern. The memory of that event helps it to be learned. If there is no downtime, the brain can't process and learn new patterns or skills or behaviors it might have been taught during the day. You have no time to learn from your experiences, and you're likely going to be making the same mistakes over and over again.
5. You're Always Tired
If the word "fatigue" seems to describe your constant state of mind, consider taking a day to let yourself rest and simply do nothing for a bit. It is both important for your overall health and your productivity to just totally turn off your brain.
As Dr. Childs explains, your brain needs that downtime to process any new information it learned. So really, taking a mental health day to literally just do nothing isn't lazy in any sense of the word -- your brain could probably really use the break.
6. You're Really Irritable
Almost snapping at your boss every five minutes? Rolling your eyes at everything your colleagues say?
Everyone gets annoyed sometimes at work, but if you find your patience is running particularly low, perhaps some self-care is in order.
According to Dr. Childs, when you feel like these signs are becoming too hard to ignore, it may mean your brain "needs to turn away from the external world and focus on itself for a while."
So, above all, give yourself the rest you need, both mentally and physically. Even if you don't take a whole day to yourself, there's nothing wrong with a morning or midday therapy appointment -- allow yourself the time to do these things without feeling bad about it.
After all, you're simply taking care of yourself.