How To Stop Feeling Guilty When You Take A Mental Health Day So You Can Actually Reap The Benefits

You've likely heard the term "mental health day" at some point in your life. Whether you've taken one of these days yourself or heard someone else detail why and when they needed one, they are becoming increasingly popular among many members of society. Mental health days are described as planned days off from work, school, and/or other daily chores and responsibilities so that you can rest, recharge, and refresh your mind, body, and soul. You may feel the need to take one of these days if you've been finding yourself feeling burnt out from work, depressed or unmotived, dealing with a lot of extra stress or anxiety in your life, or simply feeling like you need a day away to devote to yourself.

"A mental health day is beneficial because it provides a break from stress. These days can provide a much-needed break to recharge, destress, and come back with more energy and a fresh perspective. It can also help prevent burnout even from a job you love," therapist Reshawna Chapple, Ph.D., tells Talk Space.

A mental health day can be planned in advance so that you can take off work or inform the important people in your life that you may be absent or need some time away for the day. However, many people may feel guilty for taking an entire day to dedicate to themselves.

Why you shouldn't feel guilty about taking a day for yourself

There is no shame in admitting you need to work on your mental health. Many of us experience mental health issues on a daily basis, and although there are many ways to cope, taking a mental health day to simply recharge and recenter yourself isn't something that you should feel guilty about. Of course, taking the correct steps before setting out on your mental health day is ideal. One way to get time off work is to take one of your sick days. As for other responsibilities like pets and children, ask someone you trust for help if you need your dog walked or a babysitter during your planned time off.

While you can spend your mental health day curled up in bed resting, reading, or watching your favorite movies and TV shows, others might choose to get out of the house. A spa day filled with pampering could be just the thing you need. Perhaps you enjoy being outdoors and want to head to the beach, take a hike, or simply go for a walk. Maybe you want to involve friends or family members in your day, as being social helps you recharge your batteries.

Remembering that your mental health is tied to your work, family life, physical health, and so much more is reason enough to take a guilt-free day when you need it.

Benefits of taking a mental health day

Understanding the benefits of taking a mental health day can also help you feel less guilty about actually taking one. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many rewards to taking a planned day off work to get rested and rejuvenated during a difficult or stressful period in your life. Mental health days are known to prevent further or worsening mental issues, combat burnout, help you feel less lonely, improve your overall attitude, increase your productivity, and even help you get back on track with your physical health.

Mental health days can also help your deal with tough emotions or difficult thoughts, such as the guilt you may feel for wanting or needing to take the day in the first place. "A common reason why many refuse to take mental health days is because they feel guilty, ashamed, weak, and a million other overwhelming emotions," career expert Vicki Salemi told Business News Daily. "Their thoughts convince them that they're giving in, playing victim, being dramatic, when really, it's quite the opposite," she added.

While it can be hard to admit that you're in need of a mental health day, adding guilt on top of those feelings isn't helpful. Instead, during your planned day off, do everything you can to focus on yourself and get your mental, physical, and emotional states back on track.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.