Taking A Mental Health Day Should Be A Real Thing
Every weekend athlete has felt the pain of overused muscles. Every auto mechanic has had to explain to a customer how parts just wear out. We understand how the concept of overuse can be detrimental in a lot of our activities but we very seldom include our mental being in part of that overuse discussion.
A lot of us joke about playing hookey from work by calling it a "mental health day". Why should we have to hide the fact that every now and then we just need a break? I don't mean the kind of break when we are actually sick or actually on a planned vacation, just the kind of break that allows us to take a day or two and refocus ourselves on our priorities.
There are a vast number of Americans who chronically leave vacation days on the books. I myself am beyond guilty of that. However, as much as I enjoy doing what I do for a living that doesn't mean I don't need to get away from it. Even the most amazing artist has to step back from the canvas every once in a while to increase his or her grasp on the tasks at hand.
Maybe the stigma associated with the words "mental health" is the sticking point. A lot of people associate mental health with illness, anti-social behavior, depression, or anxiety. We all have mental health issues. Despite what some people may tell you, sometimes you can't just "get over it".
Some of us have the ability to address, adjust, and cope with our feelings. Then there are others that need professional help. Then there are most of us that could use a day at home or fishing or shopping or to play golf or to listen to music, anything to just let the never-ending intrusion of work via technology unwind from our psyche.
I don't think taking a mental health day should be looked upon with disfavor from any employee. In fact, I would encourage it. The only stipulation that I would add is that if and when you do take your "mental health day", that you disconnect from the phone, the computer, the tablet, the social media, the anything else that will give you cause to slide right back into work mode.
If I am not here tomorrow you'll know why. So there will be no reason to call, text, instant message, facebook, or e-mail.