Your alarm goes off in the morning. You rise out of bed, shower, mosy on into the kitchen, flick the kettle on. Maybe you normally go for a walk in the morning. Or gym or Yoga. But today, you just don't feel like it. You just can't be f#$ked adulting today. You don't feel sick, per say, but you don't feel 100 percent either. It's not that you are coming down with a cold or tummy bug, rather, a shade of grey has come over you and you just don't feel up to heading into work.
Today is the day that you should take that mental health day.
Maybe you've been working really hard on a project. Pushing to meet deadlines. Staying back, answering emails, researching, working, achieving and ticking boxes. You've been under the pump for a few weeks and you're starting to feel tired. Mentally drained.
Today would be a good day to take that mental health day.
It is estimated that around 20% of Australians aged between the ages of 16 - 85 will experience depression, anxiety or substance use in any year. This could be an isolated experience, a combination of all three mental health issues, or an ongoing illness. At least 45% of all Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime (Black Dog Institute). So, a mental health day a couple of times a year should be a given, right?
But, you feel a bit guilty calling in sick. Some work environments are not overly conducive to sickies. So many more companies however, are far more progressive in embracing mental health and are implementing health and wellbeing programs into their workplace culture, to meet the needs of their staff, improving morale and productivity. If you are employed full time, it is likely that you are able to take a mental health day as a 'sick day' or 'personal day', without it impacting on your wage.
What if though, you are a Stay at Home Mum. Or, you are Self Employed.
How do you take a mental health day?
I have been both, and in my experience, you just have to go with it and take it when you can.
As a SAHM, a mental health day might look like calling on the support of an extended family member or friend to have the kids for the day or a few hours. If this is not possible, then, a quiet day is called for. Limit the domestic jobs and chores to the bare minimum - the laundry can wait and the floors can be done tomorrow. Maybe some quiet puzzles or colouring in with the little ones will bring about a sense of space and mindfulness required. It is totally ok to have a day of tv and movies, if it means that the children are occupied so that you can take some moments to regroup.
If the kids are school age, I totally advocate for a day at home doing nothing. Spend those 6 hours when the kids are at school napping, watching chick flicks, have a cry, read a book, take a long uninterrupted bath, eat cake and chocolate. Or, go to the beach or bush. Reconnect in nature. Meditate. Whatever it is that makes you pause and feel good. Do that.
Being Self Employed can sometimes be challenging to take a day off, especially if you are in a service based industry where you don't get paid if you don't work. There is always so much to do as a small business owner, working in your business as well as on your business. This is where it is important to plan ahead. I like to block out one day a month, around the PMS time in my cycle where I have a Mental Health day. I allow myself that time for retreating from all social media, business planning and activity. I have 6 hours when the kids are at school to recoup and restore. This month I baked muffins while watching Sex and the City re runs, laughing and crying and feeling like I am catching up with old friends.
None of us are immune from mental illness. If you don't personally suffer from depression or anxiety, there will be someone in your immediate circle who does, and this will have an impact on you, one way or another. It is okay to take a mental health day, to take time out to pause on life, to rest and reset. It is important for your wellbeing.
If you or a close one is experiencing difficulties with mental health, you can get support - links below, or contact you GP for more info;
Black Dog Institute
Stress Less, Live More