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Taking a mental health day: How to make the most of it

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 4:42 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Taking a mental health day from work or school is becoming more popular in the modern-day world. According to a recent study from Parade Media and the Cleveland Clinic, 82% of people polled agree that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

“Mental health IS health,” SVP/Chief Content Officer of Parade Media, Lisa Delaney was quoted as saying in a press release from Oct. 2021.

“Normalizing and elevating the conversation around mental health is a major step in improving access to important resources to support this crucial element of overall wellbeing,” she said.

So, what should you know if you want to take a day to rest and recharge? We asked Dir. of Behavioral Health at the Heart of Florida Health Center, Carali McLean.

Question: Why is having a mental health day a good thing?

McLean’s Answer: “Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and I’m glad to see that there’s more acceptance of it these days. We know that stress takes a toll on the body. When you’re under stress you release adrenaline, you release cortisol, a whole lot of chemicals that go through your body and that creates physical change over time. They’ve done the research. They know that chronic stress can lead to hypertension, it can lead to obesity, chronic disease can make diseases worse.”

Question: What are some of the things we should be doing to make the most of a mental health day?

McLean’s Answer: “Definitely want to get rid of that ‘to-do list’ and unplug from social media, unplugged from the news, really focus on yourself, tune into what you need and I can be different things for different people. Some people may need to go outside, to be in the park or a forest, you know hiking for other people they might just need a day to sleep, some times that happens too. Some people may wanna be around friends, other people might find it more restful to curl up with a good book and be by themselves.”

Question: How can we ask an employer, hey I need to take a break?

McLean’s Answer: “Well, one thing I always counsel people on is why you need that day off is your business. Whether it’s physical health or emotional health, there’s no need to go into details. You need a day off because you’re not feeling well. This is the day just as if you were physically ill, if you had a fever or nausea or something like that, you would be good to yourself, you would eat healthily, you would take the medication you needed. You would rest you probably wouldn’t feel guilty, so I encourage people to feel the same way about a mental health day.”

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