There are days when we are more exhausted and stressed than usual, days when worries and tensions take us to the limit. In those days, the prospect of going to work seems an impossible mission and we know that, even if we go to the office, we will not give anything. That’s exactly what happened to Madalyn Parker, a web developer at Olark.
Parker, who had suffered from anxiety and depression in the past, had always dealt naturally with his emotional difficulties, so he wrote a message to his team to let them know that he needed to take a few days off to take care of his mental health.
hello team, i will take myself today and tomorrow to focus on me. i hope to return next week with a fresh mind and 100%. thank you
Olark’s executive director, Ben Congleton, responded as follows: “I wanted to personally thank you for sending me the notice. Take all the time you need, you reminded me of the importance of taking a few days of ‘mental rest’. I can not believe that it is not a usual practice in companies. You are an example for all of us, you contribute to eliminate the stigma so that we can work in full faculties “.
unfortunately, most bosses do not react in the same way.
Later, Parker shared those messages exchanged with his boss on his Twitter account, so that the story went viral and has occupied the cover of media as Business Insider. As a result, many people were encouraged to share their experiences related to mental exhaustion and emotional overload, as well as how difficult it is for others to understand that it is also necessary to take a few days of mental rest.
The stigma that weighs on mental health
In many European countries, there is no legal difference between days of physical and emotional illness, but, in practice, mental health continues to bear the brunt of stigma. People who struggle with anxiety, phobia, depression and other emotional problems every day often feel isolated and misunderstood.
If we have a cold that prevents us from getting out of bed we can take the day off. If our co-workers know that we have the flu, they will not call us “weak”, but they will show empathy and send us their best wishes for recovery. However, it is rare that mental health receives that same respectful attitude. People assume that any emotional problem is a sign of weakness, which can be glimpsed in typical phrases such as “you have to overcome it”, “be strong” or “it’s a matter of willpower”.
For this reason, many of the people who suffer emotional difficulties are afraid that recognizing them openly could affect their professional careers, generating a negative judgment about their worth. Therefore, although the law does not establish distinctions, many workers recognize that they do not take the rest they need or feel compelled to lie to hide an emotional hardship.
40% of the spanish population suffers anxiety or depression and at least one in five people consumes some type of psychotropic drug.
However, only 1 in 10 receives psychological treatment, when it has been proven that the recovery rate reached with psychological therapy is 70%, compared to the rickety 30% reported by the medication. We must be clear that if we do not solve emotional problems we will not be able to perform as much as when we have the flu. In addition, unresolved emotional problems end up causing more complex and difficult to treat disorders.
When do you need to take a few days of mental rest?
1. When you need to solve a problem that worries you so much that it prevents you from concentrating
Attention is one of the cognitive functions that is most affected when we are worried. In those cases, we make mistakes, we forget what we should do and our performance plummets. Therefore, it is best to take a few days to solve the problem that concerns us and then return to work to focus 100%.
2. When you have neglected yourself for a long time
If in the last months you have been too absorbed in a great professional project that has consumed your energy and you feel to the limit it is convenient that you take a break. Disconnecting from work will allow you to come back with new ideas and be much more productive. The same is true if you have gone through a very difficult personal situation: a small mental break will help you recharge your batteries.
3. When you feel your emotions are getting out of control
The stress and tension maintained over time can end up causing more complex psychological problems, so it is essential that you learn to detect signs of emotional exhaustion and take time to reflect, rest and pamper yourself before you get to the point of no return.
4. When you need to keep your appointments with the psychologist or psychiatrist
Appointments with mental health professionals are as important as appointments with the doctor. Instead of constantly reprogramming them because you do not have time, it would be better if you take half a day off to address your problems with the psychotherapist.
What to do in those days of mental rest to get the most out of them?
The holidays serve to disconnect and relax, but usually they are dedicated to the family or to travel. The days of mental rest, on the contrary, are centered on the person, they are days just for you, so that you take care of yourself and pamper yourself. In fact, more and more human resources specialists are advocating this formula, knowing that one or two days of mental rest are usually transformed into two weeks of full productivity.
These days of mental rest are not to stay in bed lamenting how bad we feel but to do something relaxing to help us distance ourselves from problems and worries. Choose a different plan that takes you away from your daily routine as much as possible, so that you do not end up dedicating that day off to household chores. Take a walk in the park, spend an afternoon at the cinema, give yourself a relaxing massage, dedicate yourself to something creative …
the key for a day of mental rest is fruitful is to really disconnect, but not only from work but also from everyday life. and you’d better take it before the stress takes you to the limit.