If you woke up tomorrow with a terrible case of the flu, you probably wouldn’t hesitate to call in sick to work. But if you woke up feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted, you’d likely still trudge into the office, assuming that doing so makes you a dedicated employee. Sometimes, however, taking a day to mentally recharge is in the best interest of both yourself and your company.
Recent research shows that Americans – and in particular American women – are more stressed at work than ever. In a 2013 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 37 percent of employed women reported feeling chronic stress related to work. What’s more, less than half of the women surveyed reported feeling valued by their employer.
If these sentiments sound familiar, you would probably benefit from a day to yourself away from the office. Need more proof? Here are five clear signs you need a mental health day.
It’s time to call in (mentally) sick if…
You’re tossing and turning
Struggling to fall or stay asleep at night means your brain isn’t getting the rest it needs to be refreshed and recharged for the next day. And after a few weeks, months, or even years of inadequate mental rest, you’re bound to feel too depleted to do your best work. When you’re frazzled to the point that thoughts of deadlines, reports, and presentations are inhibiting your ability to get some shuteye, you know it’s time to take a day away.
You’ve stopped being productive
It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes when we have so much work to do – and we feel so overwhelmed by it – we end up doing nothing at all. The stress of our pages-long to-do list hinders our ability to cross off even a single item. If you’re struggling to get your work done, despite the fact that you’ve got plenty of it, you probably need a mental health day to energize yourself back into action.
You’re stuck thinking inside the box
When we’re mentally drained, the first thing to go is our creativity. A tired brain results in work that lacks imagination, originality, and resourcefulness. Take a hard look at your last few projects. If they’re missing the creative edge you usually bring to the table, it’s a sign that your mind needs a break.
Little things are setting you off
Your assistant sent out a press release with a few typos. Your partner forgot to take out the trash. Your kids left for school without their homework. When the small stressors of life – the ones you can usually easily brush off – have you flying into fits of rage, your best course of action is to call in (mentally) sick to work before you snap unnecessarily at someone else.
You aren’t enjoying your weekends
If the stress of your Monday through Fridays is bleeding into your Saturdays and Sundays, you probably need a day off. It’s normal to get the “Sunday evening blues” as your weekend draws to an end, but when the activities you normally enjoy – like family outings and simple errands – start to feel like just another hassle, it’s an indication that you need some focused “you time.”
When was the last time you took a mental health day from work?