Take a day off for your mental health

Jessica talks about why taking mental health days are so important, and how they help her cope

Written by Jessica Viola


It is a Sunday night, rolling into a Monday morning. The pressure of deadlines and exams has finally hit, and it has washed me out like a giant tidal wave. There are a million things that I should be doing, which has spiked my anxiety to a new level high.

However, I can feel my body shutting down and looking for a break from all of the stress. A break? I ask myself as if that is the last thing I need to do in a time like this. But somehow, in an almost ironic sense, resting is one of the most important ways to promote positive mental health.

In this day and age, we are constantly preoccupied dealing with everything that comes our way. While it is important to occupy our time with different tasks, often times we can find ourselves being overworked by just trying to juggle it all at once. In turn, overworking can contribute to a number of negative health effects such as anxiety, depression, and extreme exhaustion. No wonder why the Japanese word, ‘Karoshi’ translates as “death from overwork”. Similar to a physical illness, a mental illness can affect everyday life just as much. In a shocking statistic one in four people in Ireland encounter a mental health issues within their lives. However, according to Joe.ie, “only 16% of people say that they frequently take steps to mind themselves”. So why are we still neglecting our mental health?

We need to break the stigma around mental health. According to Mental Health Ireland, “nearly nine out of ten people who have mental health issues claim that the stigma and discrimination has caused a negative effect onto them”. Instead of avoiding and rejecting these problems we need to tackle this stigma head on. As a part of being human, we are going to go through phases where we are angry, upset, and just not feeling peachy all of the time. When this occurs, we need to understand that it is okay to take the day off and rest our minds. This is why “mental health days” are so necessary for us to practice, as they allow us to take some time for ourselves and to just focus on how we are feeling. Of course, there are some mental health issues that will not go away overnight, but in order for us to get rid of the stigma, it is crucial for us to acknowledge and say that “it is okay not to be okay”.

From my own point of view, I believe that mental health days are necessary for everyone as it allows us to clear our heads and exercise positive wellbeing. I know from a personal standpoint, that I used to feel guilty about not attending school for a day or not seeing my friends after they asked to hang out when I was going through mental strain, that somehow it was wrong to put my mental health first. But now, I know that if I am not in the right mindset, I am able to forgive myself for wanting to prioritise me and vocalise how I am feeling to others. This way, it can help to open up the conversation around mental health and demonstrates that having a day of rest is not selfish but is actually a form of self-love.

It is Monday night going into Tuesday morning, following my day of rest I can feel my stress levels are reduced, and am more confident in my tasks ahead. I feel restored and I am prepared for whatever comes my way next, thanks to a necessary mental health day.

Mental health days and the stigma around mental health should be treated in a similar way as physical disorder is looked at; just because it does not show on our exterior, does not mean that we are not suffering on the inside. It is so important for us to acknowledge and share that when we are feeling low, that it is completely acceptable to take some time for ourselves to rest and recharge.

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