Are Mental Health Days More Necessary In This Digital Age?

Have you ever gotten up after your alarm went off, put the covers back over your head and decide that you can’t face the work day?  Have you ever sat at your desk and felt overwhelmed with all that you have to do?  Did you ever stop to think about why that might be?  Some research suggests it could be a symptom of burnout.

According to the Mayo Clinic online, “burnout” isn’t an actual medical diagnosis, but it is a type of stress.  Some experts agree that burnout is a widespread epidemic that involves physical or emotional exhaustion, to the point where mental health researchers are taking notice.  The World Health Organization (WHO) formally recognized occupational burnout as a syndrome this year in May.  According to WHO, the symptoms include:  feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from work or a cynical or negative attitude towards work, and a drop in professional performance.

Elemental By Mediumtweeted an interesting article about burnout and America’s work culture.  BuzzFeed news reporter Anne Helen Peterson wrote an essay titled, “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.” In it, she details her own struggles to be able to complete simple, everyday tasks because of a lack of energy. Peterson reasoned that she was burned out, and burned out because she internalized the idea that she should be working all of the time.

A 2018 study from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and a recent Gallup study show that more than 20 percent of America’s workforce suffer from overall burnout. Psychologist and University of California professor Gloria Mark, says factors such as incessant email communication, and America’s shift toward more solitary leisurely pursuits, have played a huge role in creating work stress and overload.

So is taking a day off for an emotional recharge the answer?  New York psychologist Alison Ross says that “self-care is, in fact a critical component of sound mental health,”and that means carving out some “me” time to do something enjoyable.   That can include taking a mental health day from work.  The Facebook group Mental Health Daysalso suggests things one can do to simplify your life. According to the Mayo Clinic online, other things to do include:

  • evaluating your options which could include discussing different options with your supervisor;
  • seeking support whether from friends and family or employee assistance programs;
  • trying a relaxing activity;
  • getting regular physical activity/exercise;
  • getting some sleep
  • practicing mindfulness techniques

These are just a few things to do to help you get back on track if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed.  However, the symptoms of burnout can mirror those of depression, so if you aren’t rejuvenated after taking a mental health day or two, it may be time to call the doctor.

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