Earlier this week I woke up to get ready for work and I just couldn’t do it. I wish I could come up with better explanation than that but that’s the truth. I just couldn’t go. My alarm went off and I immediately pressed snooze. Nine minutes later it went off again. I sat at the edge of my bed and for a moment I thought I was going to cry. I knew I needed to take the day off. A personal day. A mental refresher. So that got me thinking about why this personal day was so important. How did I know I needed this day off? What should I tell my boss? What was I going to do all day to become ready to return to work the following day? So here are my thoughts:
HOW DO I KNOW I NEED IT
The big thing you’ll realize about a personal day is that, trust me, you’ll know when you need to use it. When you’re feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, you’re finding it hard to concentrate at work, you’re having trouble controlling your reactions to situations, these are all indications that maybe you need a day off. For me, I realized it the morning I woke up to my alarm and thought I was going to start crying. I felt myself nearing this point for quite a while. There was one day last week where as I walked up the stairs to our office I felt a little wave of sadness come over me. That’s probably when I should have taken mine but instead I pushed on. Sometimes pushing on isn’t good for you. Of course you shouldn’t be taking off work for every little thing and you shouldn’t be taking off when you’re in the middle of something important at work. Everyone has days when they simply don’t want to go to work but that’s not the same as a true need for a personal day. Trust yourself to know the difference and listen to what your mind and body are telling you. If you feel as though you need to take the day, take it!
WHAT TO TELL YOUR BOSS
Here’s my stance on this topic. Mind you, I’m no expert and I can only speak from my own experience. First and foremost, don’t lie to your boss. Lying just creates a tangled web that you have to keep track of and keep up with. Lying will always get you into trouble. What you choose to tell your boss ultimately is up to you but I really encourage you not to lie. I’m lucky in the fact that I have a relatively “cool” boss in the sense that I was able to call him and just be honest. I told him I was unable to work because I had some personal struggles and needed the day to reset. He said no problem and that was that. Like I said, I’m lucky. Mental health is still a bit of a taboo subject in our society, something that I think needs to change, but my boss doesn’t see it as so. Be strong and stand your ground when it comes to this topic. Your mental health IS a reason to take a day off, especially if you work in a job where you have a certain number of PTO days for use at your discretion.
WHY A PERSONAL DAY HELPS YOU
This day helps you to relax and reset, to find out what’s causing the need for the day off and to create a plan to be able to return to work the next day ready to do your job. If you aren’t taking care of your mental health, all areas of your life can crumble. I have dealt with depression, stress and anxiety most of my adult life. I talk about it openly in the hopes that maybe I can help just one other person who might be struggling. In the last eight or so years, I learned that by avoiding my stress and anxiety I was only hurting the other areas of my life. Pent up emotions like stress, anxiety and depression resulted in my losing control of my emotions and reacting poorly to regular situations in life. It was a difficult period of time and nothing changed until I realized what was causing it and took a day to take care of myself and my state of mind. There is no shame is admitting that you struggle with these kinds of things in fact if you are afraid to reach out to someone you know please, please reach out to me**
HOW TO SPEND THE DAY
So here’s the fun part. You have a whole day to yourself, what do you do with it? This varies for each person because what helps me might not necessarily help you. Let me tell you what I did with my day and why I did it this way. First, I slept in a little bit. I struggle a lot with emotional exhaustion which leads to physical exhaustion. So the morning that I woke up and realized I couldn’t go to work, after notifying my boss, I went back to sleep for two hours. I needed this! When I woke up again at 10am I already felt more refreshed from getting those additional hours of sleep. After I woke up I spent some time with my younger brother and then we both met Tom for lunch. Family time is huge for me, my family is my rock, so I knew spending time with my brother would be a great way for me to decompress. After lunch, I spent about an hour tidying up my bedroom. I always feel better about life when my room is organized. Maybe it’s just a mental hangup but it’s like all the organization of my life starts with my room. So it made me feel better to de-clutter and clean up my bedroom. In the late afternoon around 2:30 I went to my cousin’s house for nearly four hours. My cousin, Erin, is seven years older than me and the closest thing I have to a sister. I’ve always looked to her for life advice because everything I’m going through now she has already gone through. There was nothing special planned for this afternoon. She has two small children so I basically just played with the girls and watched Erin bake all while talking to her about my life and all the reasons I didn’t go to work that day. She gave me a whole bunch of life advice, the girls made me smile a lot, then I went home feeling like I had regained control and was ready for work the next day.
RESET, RECHARGED AND READY TO WORK
After taking this day off to really focus on myself and hit the reset button, I truly felt ready to return to work the next day. The rest of the week I was in a great mood and the week flew by instead of dragging on like the previous few weeks had done. All it took was one day for me to regain control and get rid of some of that stress and anxiety. Granted, this is not a quick fix for all your problems. I still have things going on that stress me out. The difference is now that I’m rested I no longer feel as though those stresses are unmanageable. That, in my opinion, means my personal day was a success.
**As I said, if you feel as though you’re struggling from stress, anxiety or depression and don’t know who to talk to please reach out. I am no expert, I can only pull advice from my own experiences, but having dealt with these things for much of my life, I am more than happy to lend an ear to anyone who needs someone to talk to