May Is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think it is so important that we talk about our own mental health and how to be aware for others as well. Fun fact: 1 out 5 adults in the US experience mental illness. Yes you read that right, count up your family members and you may have 1 person in your family that experiences some sort of mental illness. For my family, It's me (well at least I'm the only one to admit it lol).
I’ve been in Corporate America for almost 10 years and it wasn’t until a year ago that I actually took a “Mental Health Day”. Prior to, I would get burnt out and call out sick. I was sick but not the kind of sick that is contagious. It was the only thing I knew to do to get a break.
I began taking my mental health more seriously when I went on a journey of self love. I was doing all the work at home but not in my career. This often left me feeling burned out, sad, and anxious. I felt like I had to show up every day as this super human that could solve all of the businesses problems. Ohhh not to mention trying to keep up with my side hustle during the day as well.
I saw a post on line about taking mental health days and it was like a light bulb went off. But I still didn’t use it for a few years. Then finally I got tired and it was me or the job one morning. I chose ME! I told my manager I needed a mental health day and he said “Is this something we need to talk to HR about?” OMG I was about to put my clothes on and go on in, and the spirit stopped me and told me to REST.
How often are we told we have PTO but then it has to be approved before you can take it? Or feeling the need to explain taking a day off? Where did this culture of not using your vacation and personal time come from? Like is there some secret perfect attendance competition that we entered when we started working that I don’t know about?
PTO is literally Personal Time Off. Its the time you earn away from your job so that you can take care of your business (whatever that is). Use that time as you please. Normalize not explaining why you aren’t going to be there. Because honestly if you want to stay at home all day and roll around in peanut butter, that’s nobodies business but yours.
Here’s my advice:
- Create your own work life balance.
- Use the time a break during the day and get away from your desk and out of the building. You would be surprised what fresh air hitting your face can do for you.
- Reset yourself daily and set boundaries (where you can).
There is nothing wrong with being a hard worker but even God took a rest.
Talk to your manager or check with your HR Representative on options for employee assistance with Stress or any other issues. You would be surprised by the resources that are available for you through your company.
There is only one YOU. They can replace you but you can’t replace YOU. So take care. Listen to your mind, body and soul.
Do me a favor and make a pledge to yourself to take at least one day each quarter to reset and regroup. Make it a point in 2021 to do things for your own sanity. It’s time!