Home Mental Health & Well-Being When Should You Take a Mental Health Day Off Work?

When Should You Take a Mental Health Day Off Work?

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The line between personal and professional life has become increasingly blurred, leading to heightened levels of stress and burnout. It can be challenging to recognise when it’s time to press the pause button and recharge your mental batteries.

This guide will walk you through reading the signs that suggest a much-needed mental break is in order, ensuring that you return to your responsibilities with vigour and clarity.

What are mental health days?

Mental health days are dedicated times taken off from work or daily responsibilities to address and improve one’s emotional and psychological well-being. Unlike sick days, which are typically for physical illnesses or pain, mental health days focus on alleviating stress, anxiety, and other mental strain that can arise from the pressures of personal or professional life.

The concept supports the idea that mental health is just as important as physical health. By stepping away from the usual hustle to focus on relaxation and self-care, individuals can emerge more equipped to handle life’s demands with renewed energy and a clearer mind.

How do you request a mental health day?

Start by reviewing your workplace policies regarding time off and see if mental health falls under acceptable reasons for absence. You don’t have to ask for a mental health day specifically or state why you need to leave. Just explain that you need some time off to recharge.

Plan your timing when asking for the day off, if possible. Avoiding busy periods at work is considerate and may increase the likelihood of approval. Learning how to get a doctor’s note online would be helpful, as you’ll be able to get documentation for your absence without leaving the house. If possible, try to have someone fill in for you, but this isn’t required.

Maintain clarity and professionalism throughout the process but also prioritise self-advocacy. By doing so, you’ll convey the seriousness of your need without oversharing personal details.

What are the signs you need a mental health day?

Recognising the warning signals your body and mind send when you’re overwhelmed is crucial. Let’s explore the signs that suggest you might need a mental health day from work.

  • You’re having difficulties sleeping. When sleep becomes hard to find, it’s a clear signal from your body that something’s off. Tossing and turning with worry or racing thoughts about work can heavily impact your mental well-being. A day devoted to relaxation techniques might just be the restorative pause you need.
  • You feel anxious or restless. Feeling a constant sense of anxiety is your inner alarm ringing. If you find that you’re unable to sit still or that there’s a perpetual knot in your stomach about work-related matters, it’s time to take a break. Using a day off to engage in calming activities may help alleviate these intense feelings.
  • You can’t seem to concentrate. If you’re staring at your work and nothing is making sense or your mind wanders every few minutes, concentration has left the building. This mental block is a strong indicator that you may need a pause from work. Embrace a day of rest to reset your focus and come back sharper.
  • You keep getting sick. A lowered immune response can often accompany ongoing stress, leading to frequent colds or infections. If you’re noticing a pattern of illness that coincides with bouts of high stress at work, it could be a sign to slow down. Taking a mental health day might help boost your resilience.

What should you do on your mental health day?

The purpose of a mental health day is to unwind and reset, so avoid the temptation to cram it with errands. Start off with something that relaxes you, such as reading or practising yoga. The goal is to engage in activities that make you feel good and help reduce stress.

Also, consider some form of digital detox. Disconnect from work emails and social media. Allocate parts of your day for reflection or journaling, allowing you to process thoughts and feelings. End the day with a soothing activity like a warm bath to return to work refreshed.


Remember, taking care of your mental health is not a luxury; it’s essential. Recognise the signs that suggest it’s time for a day off and honour your need to rest and rejuvenate. Give yourself the gift of a mental health day and see it as an investment in your overall well-being.

David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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