Are you like most workaholic, where you refuse to take a day off unless an unexpected illness forces you to stay home or see a doctor. But those days aren’t just for when you’re feeling under the weather. Sometimes it’s just as important to take a mental health day, a day off solely dedicated to giving your psychological and emotional health some time, to break away from the draining stress of everyday life.
Exhausted but can’t sleep: Overworking yourself mentally can lead to physical exhaustion. Severe exhaustion can lead to two things: the need to sleep all the time, and the inability to fall asleep you go to bed. And when your sleep suffers, so does your health. Taking a rest day to sleep in, take a good, long nap and get to bed early could be just the remedy you need to get your head and body straight again. “Sleep can be a powerful tool in bolstering our cognitive and emotional resources, and a day spent drifting in and out of sleep can be powerfully healing,” says Clark.
More anxious than usual: When anxiety knocks at your door, it can show up under a variety of disguises that range from racing thoughts to panic attacks, says Ackerman. It can also lead to physical symptoms like chest tightness, abdominal discomfort, or shortness of breath. If you’re feeling particularly uneasy and you’re having a hard time snapping back into your usual laid-back mood, you might be in need of a mental breather. “Spend time with loved ones or engage in relaxing activities such as massage, yoga or meditation can reduce anxiety and help improve your performance when you return to work,” says Byrne.
Can’t focus: When there’s just so much going on at work or at home that your brain can’t seem to keep track of anything, it could lead to you make careless mistakes and possibly experience even higher stress levels. Taking a day off from the madness can help you regroup your thoughts and sharpen your focus.
Easily set off: “Feeling physically tense, restless, and achy is often a sign that you have too much pent-up energy and emotion,” says Clark. “Time during a day off spent moving your body in a gentle but exhilarating way can be hugely restorative. A brisk walk with a friend, a yoga class, or a bike ride in nature can do wonders. Exercising to the point of sweat can help you think better and more clearly, which in turn can help you feel better.”
Keep getting sick: Can’t seem to shake the sniffles? If you’re seeing your doctor more often than you’re seeing your friends, that could be a pretty clear-cut sign that your health is paying the price for a burned-out brain. “Recurring colds or other physical ailments are a signal that your body needs to slow down and that you’re in need of a mental-health day,” says Ackerman. Taking a beat to catch some Z’s, enjoy a massage or reevaluate your diet will help you boost your immune system and get started on the path to better health.
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