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Mental Health Days

You don't need to be sick to need a day off

by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN  |  8370 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

My first few mental health days were miserable failures. The first time, I answered emails, ran errands, and felt guilty for not working -- not really a relaxing or fun day! So if you are going to try it, then it’s important to do it right. No kids (if you have regular childcare), no errands, no emails, no phone calls. Make a list of wonderful things you would like to do: Sleep in, get some coffee, read some magazines, take a swim, get a massage, watch some movies. 

While I'm still having a hard time taking a mental health day for myself, from a health standpoint, we absolutely deserve them! There is nothing better we can do for ourselves than to slow down and take some “me” time. This is especially true for people who have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. These conditions plus additional stress is a bad combination. Taking a mental health day when things get to be too much may be one of the best health promoting strategies you can do for yourself. 

About the Author

Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian, and a columnist for Work It, Mom! and the founder of Real Living Nutrition Services, an online weight loss program that empowers people to make small changes s

Read more by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN

4 comments so far...

  • I have taken more mental health days than actual sick days. I have a problem with an overabundance of stress, so I periodically have to take vacation or a mental health day to be able to manage. Just one day makes such a huge difference. I also think it's better for my employer- I schedule mental health days around my job load to make sure that I won't leave anyone hanging too badly. Sick days can't be as well planned.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by heels on 4th January 2008

  • Love this article Meri! I am a firm believer in mental health days, although, like your father, I felt irresponsible "calling off" work when I worked for someone else, so I never did. Now that I am self-employed however, there is no guilt! Like your friend, my favorite moments are on my front porch with a hot cup of coffee in the spring time. Even just thinking about those mornings in the doldrums of winter here, makes me feel more relaxed.
    And for those who are concerned about not getting things done, I find I am more productive once I clear my head or have something to look forward to.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rosanne Rust on 28th December 2007

  • How lucky you were to have two such good examples, so you could see that this practice doesn't make you lazy or less productive, but instead enables you to be, as you noted, "at the top of your game".

    I'm moving from a 9 - 5 self-employment to freelance self-employment, and I am finding it challenging to allow myself mental health days this year, as I have donet in years past. It's the stress of holding down more than one job. (I'm at about one and a quarter right now, and that's only going to go up, until I reach the point where I can step from one career into the next.) I'm fully aware of the irony that I probably need those mental health days MORE now than I did before, but I'm less willing to take them. I will have to work on this.

    Wanting to set a good example for my children, I allow each of them to take one day a month from school as a mental health day. They can't have a test or an assignment due that day, but if it's just a regular day, they can let me know and I let them have the day. They don't always take their monthly day, but they know it's always available to them if they need it.

    I see this as good parenting!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 27th December 2007

  • Love this idea. And when I had a regular job - vs working for myself - I used to do this somewhat regularly - a few times a year. But now I find that I don't seem to be able to justify taking a whole day off -- there is so much to get done:)

    I think I might try for 1/2 day in 2008:)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 26th December 2007