Sometimes, feeling good is as simple as dropping one or two adaptogens in our morning cup of coffee. Other times, it means taking a few steps back – especially when your job has you feeling like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff.
The good news is that mental health in the workplace is getting quite a bit of the attention it deserves. The bad news? Regardless of pioneering journalists and stigma-busting social workers raising awareness about mental health issues, many remain unwilling to take the very first step towards protecting their sanity – a day off from their jobs. The reasons could range from having a misguided fear that it will taint our success to thinking that needing some time for yourself is a sign of weakness. But the truth is – just as it’s okay to stay in bed when you sprain an ankle, it’s equally okay to schedule some time to yourself to de-stress your mind.
Of course, there’s no way you can detect a sprain in your brain and ask your boss to grant you a leave. But there are certain tell-tale signs that signal the need for a day of rest. Here are the most common ones.
1. You’re Finding It Hard To Sleep
Being unable to sleep is one of the first things that tells you that you need a break. Numerous studies have confirmed the physical implications of lack of sleep – from a drop in performance and sudden bad moods to chronic stress and associated mental diseases like depression.1 2 3 Avoid getting yourself into a cycle where sleeplessness causes stress, which in turn causes more sleeplessness.
Instead, take a mental health day; it’s a cheaper cure than all those medical bills that are going to pile up if you don’t.
2. You’re Showing Physical Signs Of Stress
Whether it’s a sudden acne breakout or a mysterious weight gain, or getting a fever every three to four weeks – they’re all signs of chronic stress.
Emotional stress, if not taken care of can quickly elevate our stress hormone levels and transform into signs of physical stress. You fall sick often, your brain can get foggy, and you could even find yourself battling with insomnia and anxiety attacks. The longer you ignore these signs, the worse the symptoms will get. So prioritize your mental and physical health and take a day off from work. You could either come up with certain coping strategies to help you lower your stress levels, or you could even choose to do nothing at all.
3. You’re Not Putting In Your Best
You may stick to that deadline, but you get called out by your boss for missing out on important punctuation marks and making spelling or calculation mistakes. It is natural for your anxiety levels to spike in a situation like this. But what’s more dangerous, is that it can get you stuck in a vicious cycle of stress, the inability to give your best, and self-blame.
You’re not a machine, and no one really expects you to go on doing your best for nine hours all five days a week. At some point, your brain and your physical health will start crashing, and even those fat checks won’t be able to restore your peace of mind.
Working harder is not the solution if stress is interfering with your work performance. Instead, take it as a call for help from your body and give yourself a break. You may be pleasantly surprised to find your usual, creative self back in business.
4. You Get Easily Irritated
People are different and there is always bound to be personality conflicts. But have you been feeling edgier off late? Do you find yourself snapping at people for the simplest of things more often than you’d like to? Do you find your mood turning nasty every time someone asks something of you?
Whatever your unresolved tension may be about, if you continue ignoring your mood swings, you’re sure to snap someday. Of course, adults don’t often indulge in a screaming competition in the workplace, but passive-aggressive emails or messages are not all that pleasant either. Instead, take the day off to separate yourself from work to calm your feelings. Scheduling some me-time could help break the cycle.
5. You Dread Going To Work
It’s okay to wake up one morning and just not want to report to work. However, being overwhelmed with despair every day, at the very thought of walking into your office is not.
Try and ask yourself why you feel this way – perhaps the workload has become too much to bear, or maybe a fallout that you’ve had with some of your colleagues. A stressful environment may further push you to sweep your feelings under the carpet, and the negativity only gets worse. So instead, take the day off to figure out what you can do to love going into work again the way you used to.
|↑1||Too little sleep, and too much, affect memory. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑2||Alhola, Paula, and Päivi Polo-Kantola. “Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance.” Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment 3, no. 5 (2007): 553.|
|↑3||The Complex Relationship Between Sleep, Depression & Anxiety. National Sleep Foundation.|