As a child, my mother would allow us to take one “mental health day” per semester. It was one day where we could tell her that we didn’t want to go to school, that we needed a day to catch up on rest or just not spend all day staring at our teacher.
I didn’t think much of it at the time but looking back, I think my mom was doing some revolutionary parenting. She was teaching us, in her own way, that life can be stressful and even as children, we had the right to say that we were overwhelmed and could use a break.
I’m thankful to her example because now as an adult and a parent myself, mental health days are the backbone of what keeps me strong.
Here’s 5 signs you might need to take a day off to do…whatever it is you please:
- You wake up angry. Does this sound familiar? You take forever to get out of bed, you’re fussing at everyone in your house before 8 a.m. and people know not to ask you questions until you’ve had your coffee. And even then they proceed with caution. If you’re still in bed and already mad at the world, it’s time to consider whether a day off is in your near future.
- You can’t make it to 7 p.m. without feeling fully exhausted. I know that you have a lot on your plate–between work, the kids, your family/friends, your community obligations, there is little time during the day to recharge and refresh. But if you’re chugging french roast at 5 p.m. hoping for an evening boost, that could be a sign that you are running on empty.
- Your weekends are nonstop. Listen, I love my kids like the next parent but I have made it a priority to keep my weekend sacred. That’s family time and couple time and “Mama needs to rest so I don’t snap at y’all Monday through Friday” time. So that means I don’t enroll them in sports programs and extracurriculars that will sap away my weekends. If you’re running around from 6 a.m. on Saturday until 7 p.m. on Sunday, I’m guessing you don’t get a chance to recharge on the weekend. So when will you do it?
- You have a ton of vacation days/sick leave stored up. Because you never use them. What if my kids are sick or I have an emergency and then I can’t use any of my time because I wasted them on a day off? Listen, if you’re stressed and need a day to recoup and unwind, then it’s not a wasted day. If your mental health is at stake, then that is an emergency.
- You’ve been considering taking time off. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you already know when you need to take a mental health day. There’s no article you need to read, no conversation you need to have. You can just feel it, the same way you can feel a thunderstorm coming.
Speak on it: How often do you take time off to do absolutely nothing?