You are the first one to arrive at work and the last one to leave. You skip lunch and never take a day off. You have forfeited vacation and personal days and just found out someone doing the same job as you got a raise even though it seems they are always taking a day or two off every few weeks. What is going on here?
Your co-worker has probably discovered the benefits of using those personal days for a mental health day, a day or two to unwind and take a break. Chances are he or she even uses all of their vacation time!
The term “mental health day”, gives a clue to the benefits taking a day off on a regular basis has to offer.
Decreases Stress- Work related stress takes a toll on your physical health. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders and a host of other illness.
Increases Productivity – If you have ever spent hours reading and re-reading a report, or staring at a computer screen and making no progress in the task at hand you know that productivity is not related to the hours you are on the clock! A break from routine and the time to focus on a completely unrelated activity often leads to increased productivity when you return to work. The report that seems so much gibberish a day or two earlier now makes absolute sense and you are able complete it in a shorter time.
Provides Life Balance – All work and no play does nothing to strengthen family relationships or connect with friends in a meaningful way. Taking regular mental health days reminds you there is life outside of work. Mental health days provide the balance between work and personal time that is often sacrificed for the sake of a paycheck.
Extends the benefits of a full vacation – According to a study published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior, taking advantage of mental health days can help reduce job demands and extend the positive effects of vacation. In the study, individuals who took a full summer off from work returned with increased productivity and less burn-out. However, within a month of working a full-time schedule they reported feeling as though they had not even had a break.
Those workers who planned for and took advantage of regular mental health days to focus on leisure time, relaxing activities reported significantly less stress and burnout than co-workers who envisioned another year before vacation rolled around again.
Go ahead and take a mental health day. Your body, mind, and spirit will appreciate it. Who knows? Your boss may even notice that increased productivity and give you the next raise!
KÃƒÂ¼hnel, J. and Sonnentag, S. , How long do you benefit from vacation? A closer look at the fade-out of vacation effects. Journal of Organizational Behavior, n/a. doi: 10.1002/job.699
Gump BB, Matthews KA. Are vacations good for your health? The 9-year mortality experience after the multiple risk factor intervention trial. Psychosom Med 2000; 62: 608-612. 11020089
Strauss-Blasche, G., Reithofer, B., Schobersberger, W., Ekmekcioglu, C. and Wolfgang, M. (2005), Effect of Vacation on Health: Moderating Factors of Vacation Outcome. Journal of Travel Medicine, 12: 94-101. doi: 10.2310/7060.2005.12206