The reason we get annual leave from work is to take the necessary time to unwind, destress and recharge the batteries so that we’re better able to cope with our ever-increasing to do lists.
Though we’re lucky enough in Ireland to get at least 20 days’ leave (while in America they’d be lucky to get any at all), there’s a tendency to accumulate all of our leave towards an actual holiday, involving travel, lots of alcohol, and lots of late nights. But sometimes the best thing we can do for our bodies is take a mental health day, a day for absolutely nothing other than duvets, good food, naps, a walk in the park and a good oul bubble bath. Here’s a few signs it’s time for a much needed mental health day.
1. You return from a holiday feeling as though you need a holiday. Burning the candle at both ends will eventually, inevitably burn you out. If you go on a bender of a two week holiday, staying up til the wee hours every night, and don’t come back from your time off feeling rejuvenated then you’ve not given your mind and body (which are far more inextricably linked than we care to admit) a chance to really rest.
2. Your stress threshold has dropped. When you’re at your best, firing on all cylinders, you can take things in your stride. If you’re burnt out, however, you’ll notice that your ability to cope with situations you’d normally be ok with, will lessen. If you find yourself overreacting over various work stresses, it’s time for a brief step back.
3. Your sleep pattern is suffering. One surefire way to tell that your body isn’t quite happy is when your sleeping pattern goes off kilter. If you’re tossing and turning, waking up at regular intervals and never quite feeling as though you’ve rested when you get up for work, then take it as a sign that you need some genuine, undisturbed rest. Even one day of not having to check your phone every two seconds will make the world of difference. Which leads us nicely onto…
4. You cannot bear to part ways with your phone. If you’re sitting there watching TV, trying to relax, but find yourself grabbing your phone every few seconds (literally, SECONDS) as though on auto pilot, refreshing your various email accounts, checking your Facebook and Twitter feeds for fear that you’ll miss something, then you need to CHILL out. This is a major problem these days and many of us would actually feel anxious if somebody said ‘I’m taking your phone away for an hour’. Would you admit to this? Being glued to technology serves only to keep our minds constantly running on overdrive. If you’re watching some fluff on telly, switch off the laptops, iPads and iPhones and try to just enjoy the relaxation. Even leave your phone downstairs when you go to bed. But better yet, plan a day of R&R that doesn’t include your technological crutches. Your mind will love you for it.
5. You’ve got a short fuse. If you’re snapping at your loved ones and find yourself operating with a very short fuse, then guess what? You probably need a day to recharge.
Remember the song ‘What a difference a day makes? 24 little hours…’ Well Dina Washington wasn’t having you on when she sang those lyrics. A day spent focusing on the things that make you feel like you again, whatever that may be, can work wonders in terms of realigning your priorities and refocusing your perspective in a way that is manageable, i.e. realising that that blazing row you had with your boyfriend over who should empty the dishwasher probably wasn’t worth your energy.
Caroline Foran @CarolineForan