What to do on a Bad Mental Health Day

February 12, 2024

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Dealing with stress, especially alongside symptoms of depression or anxiety, can be overwhelming. If you’re sensing that your stress levels are maxing out and you are having a bad day mentally, it might be time to step back and recalibrate with a mental health day.

A mental health day off provides a pause from your regular work or academic routine, allowing you to dial down obligations and get some breathing space. Having a bad mental health day is an opportunity to engage in stress relief, relaxation, and activities that bring you joy, helping to ward off burnout.

Although a single day away may not resolve deep-seated issues contributing to burnout, it can offer a valuable interval to rest, recenter, and return recharged with renewed energy and a clearer, more relaxed mindset.

Regardless of the stress that you’re under, these suggestions can help you make the most of a mental health day.

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Bad Mental Health Day Tips

Choosing to take a mental health day is a significant step toward self-care. To ensure that you fully benefit from this time, here’s what to do on a bad mental health day:

  • Digital detox: Disconnecting from digital devices helps you engage more deeply with your mental health day. Temporarily stepping away from your phone, email, and social media will allow you to immerse yourself in the present and reduce digital distractions that may affect your well-being.
  • Commit to your decision: If you’ve scheduled a bad mental health day at work but face unexpected work demands, remember to prioritize your well-being. Uphold the commitment to your mental health day with your employer’s support, recognizing that no task is worth compromising your mental stability.
  • Mindful observation: Rather than having a bad mental health day at work, instead take this time to check in with yourself. Whether it’s during a nature walk or a quiet moment at home, observe your emotional and physical state. What shifts do you notice in your feelings and bodily sensations throughout the day?
  • Cultivate gratitude: Integrating gratitude into your day can profoundly impact your mental state. Reflect on the aspects of your life that you’re thankful for, whether they’re simple pleasures or significant relationships, and acknowledge their value.
  • Invest in mental fitness: Mental health is bolstered by mental fitness, just like physical health is by physical fitness. Consider how you can maintain mental resilience – perhaps by making mental health days a regular practice or engaging in activities that foster mental strength.

By incorporating these tips into your mental health day, you create a nurturing space for emotional and mental rejuvenation.

How to Get Through a Bad Mental Health Day

Here are ten actionable tips showing you how to deal with a bad mental health day.

  1. Start with deep breathing: Begin your day with a deep breathing exercise to center your thoughts and calm your nervous system.
  2. Create a comforting routine: Establish a simple routine that includes activities you find comforting, such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, or sipping tea.
  3. Limit responsibilities: Reduce your to-do list to the essentials, giving yourself permission to postpone tasks that can wait.
  4. Stay hydrated and nourished: Drink plenty of water and choose nourishing foods that fuel your body and mind.
  5. Get moving: Engage in light physical activity, like stretching, walking, or yoga, to release endorphins and improve mood.
  6. Seek nature: Spend time outdoors to connect with nature and gain a fresh perspective, whether it’s a brief walk in the park or simply sitting in the sun.
  7. Use positive affirmations: Remind yourself of your strengths and worth with positive affirmations that counter negative thoughts.
  8. Journal your thoughts: Write down what you’re feeling without censorship to help process emotions and gain clarity.
  9. Reach out: Connect with a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional to share your feelings and gain support.
  10. Plan something to look forward to: Organize a future activity that brings you joy, giving you a positive event to anticipate.
An image of a friend consoling her loved one, showing an example

Is it Okay to Take a Mental Health Day?

Absolutely, it is okay – and often necessary – to take a mental health day. Recognizing the need for a mental health day is a proactive step toward managing stress, preventing burnout, and maintaining overall well-being. Just as physical health sometimes requires a day of rest and recovery, mental health is no different. Taking this time can help reset your emotional state, providing the chance to recharge and return to your daily life with renewed focus and resilience.

Employers and educators are increasingly acknowledging the importance of mental health, reflecting a growing understanding that mental well-being is just as important as physical health. So, if you’re contemplating a mental health day, consider it a valid form of self-care that benefits both your personal and professional life.

How to Explain a Bad Mental Health Day

Explaining a bad mental health day requires honesty, yet it’s still possible to be discreet. Here’s how to take a mental health day the right way:

  • Choose your words wisely: You can be truthful without going into detail, using phrases like, “I need a day to address some personal health matters”, which is both accurate and private.
  • Know your audience: The explanation for your boss may differ from the explanation you share with a friend, so tailor your communication accordingly.
  • Use analogies if helpful: Comparing a mental health day to taking a day off for a cold can help others relate – it’s about recovery and returning at your best, whatever it takes.
  • Assert the need: Make it clear that this time is essential for your well-being and, consequently, your productivity and effectiveness.
  • Refer to policy when applicable: If your workplace has provisions for mental health, reference these to support your request, which can make it more formal and accepted.


I need a mental health day, what should I do?

If you need a mental health day, first acknowledge the necessity without guilt, then inform your workplace or school as needed. Plan your day focusing on restorative activities like relaxation, outdoor time, or a hobby that brings you joy.

What are common bad mental health day symptoms?

Common symptoms of a bad mental health day can include feelings of overwhelming stress or anxiety, persistent sadness or irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, and a general sense of emotional exhaustion or detachment.

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If you or a loved one need effective and compassionate mental health treatment in Southern California, reach out to Connections.

Our small beachside facility is deliberately designed to accommodate just six people at any one time. By keeping numbers small, you’ll still get plenty of personal attention, but without losing out on the support of peers tackling similar issues.

Mental health treatment at Connections blends evidence-based therapies like medications and psychotherapy with holistic interventions. Over the course of a month or more at our Californian treatment center, you should improve well-being, restore functioning, and develop coping techniques for ongoing recovery.

When you complete your treatment program at Connections, you will leave with access to ongoing care, and you’ll also have forged meaningful connections for the future.

Call 844-759-0999 today and start addressing mental health issues tomorrow.

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