How To Tell When You Need A Mental Break From Work

Mental health can be hard to track. While almost all of us experience sadness, anxiousness, or even slight depression, telling when it’s been too much can be a difficult task. Not only do we feel like addressing our mental health could jeopardize our careers, but we could potentially be humiliated. That’s why we’ve compiled a few helpful steps to be able to feel like your old self again.

Conducting A Mental Health Check

The most difficult part of conducting a mental health check is first knowing how exactly the medical community defines mental health. To put it in perspective, the National Institute of Health estimates that 7.1 percent of Americans have experienced at least one episode of depression; while the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that anxiety affects 40 million people. While both are most likely true, there’s a difference between experiencing symptoms of something versus being plagued by it.

When examining our mental health, the biggest considerations to keep in mind are frequency and severity. Additionally, if there’s a certain type of direct cause or contributing factor that you know to be true, removing yourself from that should be the first step. For example, if you noticed you often feel anxious or depressed when working on a certain project or with a certain teammate, assess why that might be the case, as well as if there are any actionable solutions you can take to combat that. As your mental health is what’s the most valuable for your job, it’s imperative you keep control of the causations quickly. 

Coming To Terms With Certain Symptoms

As much as we’d love to be able to draw a line between a symptom and cause, mental health isn’t always that simple. As noted by The Mayo Clinic, depression is often noted as something that “comes out of the blue” and “isn’t a behavior someone can just snap out of.” Although that’s not to belittle or denounce anyone’s depression, often those who are suffering from clinical symptoms describe this process as something that no outside factor can control. Quite simply, sometimes life can be going right in every direction, but to a person with depression, there’s still a feeling of emptiness regardless.

When assessing your own mental health, it’s important to note if the above symptoms are something that you’ve been experiencing consistently enough to say there’s something chemically wrong. Don’t feel humiliated if that might be the case, as there’s nothing wrong with any illness. Certain symptoms of depression or anxiety can be common, such as feeling hopeless, loss of appetite, or zoning out, but you should still evaluate the cause (especially if you’re experiencing symptoms frequently). We’ll note that although you may be experiencing symptoms, don’t stress on finding the answers right away, but rather take note on when symptoms are happening as well as why you feel like that might be the case.

How To Talk With Your Boss About It

Talking with an employer about mental health can be a pretty daunting task, where it’s common to feel as though you won’t be taken seriously, or even perceived as weak. However, taking care of your mental health can be one of the most productive things for yourself, as well as your employer; in fact, according to the CDC, depression can reduce cognitive abilities by up to 35 percent, meaning you’re practically working at two-thirds of the pace you normally would (if that). When put in pragmatic terms, employers are much more apt to work with you on finding a solution, which starts with knowing what’s wrong.

It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers before you meet with your boss, but it’s important to get as many as possible. If you can afford it, seek a trained professional. If not, it can be a smart idea to not only talk through what’s been going on with your employer but also ask them to be a resource. Although it’s a hard conversation, talking about mental health will really be a litmus test to how your employer treats you and what working relationship you’d like to have moving forward.

Giving Yourself Time To Heal

When you’ve finally freed yourself into a place of healing, it’s more to be mindful of mapping out that process. Just because your job has been making you depressed or anxious doesn’t mean removing yourself from it is going to be a cure. For this reason, it’s important to seek help or therapy from a professional, which can work marvels; because as noted by the American Psychiatry Association, 80 to 90 percent of people who go through treatment for depression state they end up feeling better as a result. And if you’re looking to heal, then it starts with looking for what you need.

One of the best places to start your research for an expert is amongst your friends or family, especially those who’ve suffered from similar conditions. If no one is available, start interviewing potential candidates, highlighting their experience, how you feel their track record has performed, if you like their attitude, and even what other services they offer (a note on how much investment they have into their work). Don’t be surprised if it takes a few sessions to really get the ball rolling, which you should be transparent with your mental health specialist as well as your employer the time table you’ll be on in getting back to being yourself again. While the healing process isn’t an easy journey, it’s one that you’ll thank yourself for taking on in the years to come.

What are symptoms you’ve experienced that made you feel like you needed a mental health day? Comment with your insights below!

Image credit: Mental Break via Chinnapong/Shutterstock

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