If someone has a fever or bad cough, they do not think twice about calling in sick to work — so why should you treat your mental health any differently?
Mental illness is what’s referred to as an invisible illness because the majority of mental illness symptoms can’t be seen. The same is true for conditions such as arthritis, as others may not physically see what an individual is experiencing, but for that individual, the pain and suffering are extremely real.
Health experts have long agreed that mental well-being is just as important as physical well-being. If at any point you are feeling emotional and/or psychologically ill, it’s critical that you look after yourself.
If you are feeling irritable, overwhelmed, moody, have lost all motivation, or simply do not feel yourself, you are not alone.
As reported by the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, ranging in severity from mild to severe. The most common conditions are anxiety disorders, impacting approximately 18 percent of people ages 18-54 in any given year, followed by a depressive illness.
However, in many cases, conditions co-occur. Some estimates show that as many as 60 percent of those with anxiety, also showcase symptoms of depression; and the rate of substance use disorder in patients with schizophrenia is three times higher than the general population.
There are many reasons why mental health issues continue to rise. From work to traffic, deadlines to personal variables, many are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. Rates of depression increased by 33 percent between 2013 and 2016 due to both work-related concerns and personal life challenges.
Rates of mental illness among young adults have also significantly risen over the past decade, which may be due to cultural trends and digital media use. A 2019 study found that the rate of individuals reporting symptoms of major depression increased 63 percent in adults (age 18 to 25) from 2005 to 2017.
Mental health was stigmatized for so long, but fortunately, many are beginning to realize how important their mental health is — not just in terms of their quality of life, but also their physical health. Research shows that just as poor mental health can threaten your physical health, positive emotions may actually help reduce your risk of certain illnesses, including heart complications.
Although the connection between mental and physical health is complex, at the root of it all, your mental health is integral when aiming to live a healthy, balanced life. Impacting how you think, feel, and behave, your emotional health can impact every aspect of your life — but how will you know when it’s time to take a break?
No one knows your body quite like you do, which is why you need to listen to even the most subtle clues — especially those that are ongoing. Here are just some of the hints that a mental health day is likely needed.
Whether you’re struggling to focus, you’re more anxious than normal, or you feel disconnected, it’s time to practice greater self-care. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious to the point that your sleep and quality of life are negatively impacted, it’s completely acceptable (and highly recommended) that you take a mental health day.
Once you do, remain mindful of the following:
Whether you are feeling overwhelmed or are experiencing an episode related to your mental health, it’s important to slow down and admit that you need a break. Seek support and make self-care your number one priority. After all, Cecilia Tran, MD, said it best, “Self-care means giving yourself permission to pause.”