Last week, we were asked to provide the days we wanted to take Paid Time Off (PTO) for the rest of the year. This is a practice we do every six months. The choice, of course, were the obvious ones: days before Thanksgiving and the week after Christmas. Also, the choices included three- and four-day weekends at least once a month. These are taken as mental health days.
A mental health day is one you take for no actual activity; a day you treat yourself to, for the purpose of preventing burn out.
Working in the mental health field, burnout is an ever-present reality for providers. Think about it: we hear the worst of the worst of human experiences day after day. Sometimes, we experience vicarious trauma from repetitively hearing personal stories beyond the “norm” of the human experience.
Burnout is when you feel like you are merely existing or going through the motions without experiencing passion or joy anymore in your work that once held incredible meaning.
A mental health day is a day you take off from work or school, with the purpose of minimizing any commitments or responsibilities. You can use this time to focus on relieving stress, relaxing, having fun, and preventing burnout. While one day might not solve heavy underlying problems that lead to burnout, a mental health day can provide a much-needed break to pause, regroup, and come back with greater levels of energy and a fresh, less-stressed perspective.
While there is a growing movement to destigmatize mental health issues in the workplace, many employers still do not support mental health concerns as a legitimate reason to miss a day of work. You can call in sick: You can say, “I’d like to use my remaining sick day this month,” and not specify why you’re using it. Or you can say, “I am not feeling well today, and I need to take the day off,” without adding anything further.
Or like we do at work, you can say, “I will be using my PTO,” without giving a reason why. Your employer or fellow employees don’t need to know what you’ll be doing. If you need some time to gather yourself and regroup, please do it; just invest in yourself by taking a mental health day. You will come back better and prepared to work.
Remember, my friends and readers, embrace Mark 6:31: “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
Love God and all people. Amen.
This post is brought to you as part of our Adair Drug Tuesday.