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Why you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a mental health day


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Most people know that feeling of drafting an email to your boss to call in “sick”—when they actually aren’t. Writing the lies about bad sushi or up-all-night puking brings waves of guilt. Why is it so hard to spell out the truth: “Hi boss. I’m feeling extremely stressed/exhausted/overwhelmed and need to take a mental health day today.”

According to Forbes, it actually benefits companies when their employees take time to tend to depression, anxiety, or other issues every now and then. And a new report released by the National Business Group on Health shows that mental illness is becoming a rising problem in the workplace and results in more missed days and poorer work performance. According to the report, mental illness and substance abuse costs companies $17 billion each year and 217 million missed days. The takeaway: It’s a lot more beneficial for employers if their staffers take a few days off a year to recharge rather than confronting a more serious health issue down the road.

 “If it is important for employees to regularly contribute high-impact, high-quality work, it is equally essential they have flexible, paid time to contribute to their whole health and wellness.”

Mental health days are just as important as sick days, vacation, or any other form of paid time off,” The Courage Practice founder Tonyalynne Wildhaber tells Forbes. “If it is important for employees to regularly contribute high-impact, high-quality work, it is equally essential they have flexible, paid time to contribute to their whole health and wellness.”

Psychologist David Butlein, PhD, points out that if you have a career that requires creativity, it is extra important to take a “me” day every now and then. “It’s well documented that stress inhibits the creative process—humans in fight or flight [mode] aren’t thinking about new ways of doing things, they’re just trying to reduce the pain of stress and overwhelm,” he says. “Mental health is essential for the creative class to stay creative.”

Putting aside time to be inspired could be just what you need to dream up your next big idea.

Here are some sure signs depression and anxiety are affecting your health. And if you’re wondering what exactly you should do on your mental health day, you can use this guide as your blueprint.