As a social worker mental health care is just as important as physical health care. I cannot give fully of myself from a cup that is empty. When practitioners don’t engage fully in mental health self care I tend to think they are committing malpractice. Now this notion may sound harsh to some but it is the truth. When you are not mentally coherent on any job you are not at your peak performance level. However, when your career involves the lives of others self care must remain at the forefront of your mind.
Here are my Top 5 Reasons Mental Health Days Are Important:
- It prevents you from going off the deep end. When I am sleep deprived I get cranky and irritable. This then leads to me being more anxious and intolerant of others mistakes. When my body language becomes profound and deliberate during meetings I know it’s time for me to take a mental health day. I just might be one meeting or email away from going ziggity boom on someone who truthfully doesn’t deserve it.
- You need to recharge to perform at maximum capacity. Now this is tricky. Take too much time off of work you might not want to come back. Take not enough time off and you are right back to square one. We all need either short staycations or longer vacations to recharge our spirits. I won’t say batteries because we are human beings and not human doings. If you are constantly going there is no time to slow down and just enjoy life.
- You need time to reflect. All work should follow this cycle: Brainstorm>Create>Implement>Reflect>Adjust. There are many people who skip the reflect piece and never adjust. This cycle is even applicable to your personal life. Reflection allows us to become centered and process what is going on in our professional and personal lives. Growth only comes by reflection.
- It helps others figure it out. If you are constantly the go-to person at your job or even at home having a mental health day provides opportunities of growth for others in your organization (yes, your family is an organization). When you take a mental health day you have to fully go off of the grid. No emails, text messages, phone calls, etc. That day or days is solely committed to filling up the tanks of your life that are now almost empty. The world will not stop spinning if you are not present.
- Your loved ones will thank you for it. When we are exhausted, tired and anxiety ridden it can at times seem as if an alien has taken over our bodies. No amount of coffee can temper someone who needs to take a mental health day. Better relationships make us better people. We cannot get to better when we are at our worse.
Self care is a daily choice that we must actively seek if we want to live whole and happy lives. The normal work environment is not set up to make self care a priority. Mental and physical health are the two areas that I advocate for people to become self centered in.
What good are you to others when you are bad to yourself?