Mental Health Days

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Last week I declared Thursday a mental health day for one of my clients.  She and I had a coaching session on Wednesday and, as we started our call, she could barely get two words out of her mouth before she broke down crying.  This is a high performing leader who is typically a picture of calm, cool, and collected.   Her prior two weeks had been incredibly stressful.  She had not only been working around the clock but had moved to a new home.  Needless to say, she hadn’t taken any down time for herself and because she had three weeks of upcoming travel, felt a tremendous amount of pressure to “get everything done” before traveling.

It was overtly clear that she needed to take more than a step back; she needed to take a step away from all her responsibilities.   We talked through what she could do to give herself a break, sooner rather than later.  It was obvious that she had pushed herself to a breaking point both emotionally and mentally, which is why I suggested a mental health day.   Mental health days are, in my opinion, the same as taking a sick day only you do it to rest and restore your mind and emotions instead of your physical body.   You treat a mental health day just as you would a day you were sick in bed with the flu.  You rest and restore in order to keep yourself sane.  In my view, mental health days should be scheduled regularly into your work routine. They will keep you recharged and prevent you from getting burned out and pushed to the edge of your tolerance level.

My client ended up taking a mental health day the day after our call and sent me an email over the weekend to let me know that it made a huge difference.  For someone like her, (and perhaps also like you), who works in a high pressure job at a prestigious organization, ensuring you keep yourself mentally and emotionally healthy is as important as keeping yourself physically well.  Mental health days are an easy way to ensure that happens.  Try it – you may be surprised to see how differently the things that were overwhelming you appear to you when you return.

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