We have all been there! You are sitting at your desk, looking at the long list of jobs ahead of you and you can see that boulder at the top of the hill starting to roll down faster and faster towards you. Your stress builds, your anxiety hits an all time high and you end up just sitting there doing absolutely nothing! Sound familiar? Queen you need a mental health day!
Why/When should you take a mental health day?
We have all heard the saying about how you have to fill up your own self care cup first before you help others and this couldn’t be more true! If you are overly stressed, anxious and have stuff going on both at work and in your private life the chances are you are going to burn yourself out and end up in a much worse position than if you just took that day (or two) off to breathe and re-centre yourself (Trust me I am living proof of this!).
It is so important we all remember that looking after our mental health is just as important to our overall health as looking after ourselves physically! I mean when you have the flu and you feel like sh*t you are not going to drag yourself to work, you are going to give yourself the time to recover and get back to your best self.
Same goes for mental health!! If I am so stressed that the thought of getting out of bed is terrifying…then don’t do it. Call/text/email your boss and let them though you won’t be making it in today! Then turn back over, cuddle up in your blankets and go back to sleep!
I can honestly say as a boss, I would much prefer my staff have the time off they need to fill their cups up rather than show up to work empty. Because the reality is showing up to work empty doesn’t help anyone…not you and not your boss!
How to tell your boss (or not tell your boss)
I count myself very lucky that I am working for a company where I can just ring up my boss and say “I am taking a mental health day” and am fully supported and not questioned!
I have received numerous emails from all the different bosses (company director included) which have a subject line of ‘Mental Health Day’ and I think this sets an absolutely fantastic example to all our staff members that doing this is natural, it is normal and it is nothing to be embarrassed about.
If you are in a company like this you have it good and my advice here is make sure you know when to use your mental health day (when you need one) as I am sure there will be zero resistance!
Unfortunately, I am aware this is not the case in all companies. In some places you can be questioned about why you need to have this day off, particularly from a generation where this concept is still relatively new.
My advice here is if you think your boss will be funny, weird or judgemental about it, or you are actually just not comfortable in telling them (which is more than fine) – then don’t! You want this day to be calm and relaxing not adding to your stress. Just send them an email saying you are not feeling well and won’t be in! Keep it short and simple – no need to give them justifying reasons why – just let them know you are not up to it today.
So um…what do I actually do on a mental health day?
Good question my friends! This one is pretty simple…do whatever makes you feel better!! If it is lying in bed sleeping all day – bloody fantastic! If it is catching up with friends or family for lunch – you go girl! If it is buying yourself a fancy tea and curling up with a book – can I come along? (Like seriously though! This is one of my go to’s!)
Hopefully by now you know what helps you relax and de-stress. One of the best things for me is to go and see my horse, brush her, look after her, give her cuddles. There is no judgement there – she is just happy to see me and give me love.
Find what makes you happy, what sets your soul on fire and go do that!
How can us boss babes help?
I think this is a really important section to just add in at the end here! I know we are not all boss babes but to those of you who are, I want to challenge you to reflect on your current company environment. Is it a place where your staff feel comfortable enough to approach you and say they need a mental health day? Do you think they would take one if they really needed one? Have you spoken to your staff members recently for a check in to see how they are tracking? Are you leading by example?
If I am taking a sick day I will let my team know it is a sick day, however, if I am taking a mental health day I will specifically let them know it is a mental health day. Because I remember the feeling of seeing those emails from my bosses saying they were taking a mental health day and I remember thinking “Oh wow, okay so they are doing this and it’s normal”. I remember this created an open line of communication between us where if I was having a bad week, I could tell them and it was okay.
This is the relationship I want to have with my staff members – this is the type of boss I want to be. My mentor has told me repeatedly “Tessa your first and most important job as a boss is to make sure your staff members are looked after and to make sure they are okay. Because if they are not, you don’t have a team and you won’t be able to get your projects delivered”.
So to my Queens remember filling your cup is important, having a break is important, re-centring yourself and taking that mental health day is the best thing you can do for your careers. Because once you have I can guarantee your work will reflect how fantastic you are now feeling!