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17 Apr

Why Taking Mental Health Sick Days at Work is Important

I f you’re feeling overwhelmed, overly stressed, or having trouble focusing, then a “mental health day” can do wonders. Particularly if you work a high-stress or creatively demanding job, your brain can need a break.  

While it’s easy to convince yourself that taking time off when you’re physically able to work can seem like a waste of a sick day, your mental health is just as important to your overall well-being as your physical health. Just like any other body part, your mind needs time to rest and recover.  

Obviously, I’m not just talking about the Sunday blues or just feeling fed up with work. I’m talking about a level of anxiety or stress that impacts your general wellbeing and ability to function. When those days come along, it’s time to consider a day off.  

Unfortunately, while physical sick days are commonplace, mental health sick days are still a grey area in the workplace. Determining what your company policy and culture is important before you say anything about mental health because not all companies consider this a viable reason to take a sick day. If this is the case for you, it’s okay to be brief and vague – you don’t need to go into detail about why you’re taking the day off beyond saying that you’re unwell.  

Spend your mental health day the same way you would any other sick day: being kind to yourself and nursing yourself to health. It’s not a day to catch up on errands or chores (unless folding laundry does make you feel better – in which case, I can’t relate, but you do you). Similarly, don’t do think you think you’re supposed to do in the name of self-care. Having a bath makes me fidgety and restless, so I don’t do it. Whether it’s staying in your pyjamas binge-watching Love Island reruns, scrubbing the kitchen, or going to the gym, do what works for you. Self-care looks different for everyone. 

The goal isn’t to get out of work; it’s to heal your mind so you can return refreshed, reinvigorated and remotivated. Mental health days are a necessity for everyone – more so than ever in the hustle hard, always-online age we live in. The result will inevitably be a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce. 

Ellie Hyman

Manchester born and bred, after reading English Literature at Durham University, Ellie moved to London. Now, working in financial communications, Ellie also freelances; her specialisms are lifestyle, beauty, psychology. In her spare time, you'll probably find her with her nose in a book or upside down in various yoga positions.

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