In honour of World Mental Health Day taking place on the 10th of October, we’d like to open the discussion about Mental Health at work. Wholeheartedly giving our appreciation, awareness and advocacy against social stigma we explore why taking a mental health day can be so beneficial.
Can I take a mental health day?
Taking sick days when you’re physically sick is commonplace. It’s a widely accepted standard deemed by bosses as not only necessary but conducive to good working practice. So, what about taking time off to tend to your mental health?
Despite being more of a grey area for the anti-woke, research suggests taking a step back from work for a mental break is essential for a healthy work environment.
Why should I take a mental health day?
Whatever reason you see fit. A mental health day is about *your* mental health, not about anyone else’s opinion about what does or does not count. Personal problems, negative energy from a work colleague, burnout, and over-work are all common reasons why you might need to take a day for yourself.
Left unchecked, these negative stressors could cause long-term strain, anxiety, unhappiness, stress, feelings of being overwhelmed and even mental illness.
And let me tell you, keeping a stiff upper lip and carrying on with work like a selfless stoic ain’t doing you or anyone else any good. Boxer dies on Animal Farm remember, literally dies.
Your work can suffer too, potentially harming your working relationships, causing resentment and myriad issues that could hurt your performance and co-workers.
What should I do on a mental health day?
From getting creative to reconnecting with nature, here are just a few ideas for how you can best look after yourself on a mental health day:
Most would agree that creativity is good for the soul, even if your artwork looks more like a poo stain than a Picasso.
Creativity, whether it be painting, drawing, knitting, crafting, singing, scrap-booking or playing an instrument (look how many ideas we gave you!) helps to relieve deep tension in your body by engaging your (spooooky) subconscious mind.
The sciencey bit is a little shakey for my right-sided brain, but here goes. Engaging your subconscious mind with creative activities helps you to indirectly relieve stress in the same way as playing helped you as a child. It taps into hidden or repressed emotions that might be bothering us and helps us work through them in a healthy, wholesome sort of way.
Being creative can increase positive emotions, reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety, as well as improving the function of our immune systems.
Baby, keep on dancing like you ain’t got a choice.
Physical exertion has been proven to be as effective as taking medication for treating many kinds of mental health problems.
Do whatever floats your boat – be it yoga, running, hula-hooping, weightlifting, or dancing around your living room to Olivia Newton-John – any exercise is good for managing stress and improving your mental health.
This is thanks, in part, to feel-good endorphins and brain chemicals that are naturally released when our body is physically active.
Take a bath in trees
Submerging your soul into nature has proven beneficial sciencey effects on our mental health. This is because when we’re surrounded by the natural world our parasympathetic nervous system is heightened.
This, in turn, activates our “rest and digest” flow, giving an overall calming effect on our bodies and mood. So, taking a walk *in nature* (pavements by polluted roads don’t count), can indeed help to reduce our stress levels.
You could even try activities such as tree bathing, a popular pastime in Japan, which involves getting down and dirty in forests and woodlands. To tree bathe, take a quiet, meditative stroll in your local wood and try to be present in the moment, sensing the nearby trees and appreciating their age, beauty, structure and motherly role in the eco-system.
If you’re not a forest nymph or consider tree bathing to be exclusively for the avant-guarde, why not try more normie activities like walking in a park?
To conclude, taking a day off for our mental health is often necessary to help us feel refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of life in and out of work. Celebrate World Mental Health Day by finding out more about how you can practice good mental health and mindfulness using the myriad online tools available.