As the global pandemic has shifted our lives into a new “normal,” many Americans have been faced with major transitions in their work, social, and personal lives. These changes are taking a toll. Over 60% of employees say they are experiencing more stress than before the pandemic started.
A major change we have seen over the past few months is the mass transition to working from home. This sudden break of routine and lack of social interaction has played a major role in how many people have been affected by the change of work environment. Since the onset of the pandemic, over 40% of employees are currently working from home. On average, these working from home employees are working two more hours per day.
During the start of the pandemic, employees that worked from home saw an initial burst in productivity, but over time, many found it more difficult to stay productive and maintain satisfaction. This was due to various causes including everyday monotony or having to work remotely without the proper resources in place to support their work. Many parents have been forced to juggle multiple roles as employee and teacher while trying to work with family members in the same location. Lack of social connections with fellow employees led to further difficulty, as did technology challenges and a new version of teamwork in a virtual work world.
This challenging milieu has been amplified by the additional health concerns for working parents about return-to-school plans this fall. Changes to our social circumstances, as well as major economic challenges including furloughs and pay cuts have been added strains to an already stressful period for many. As these changes continue to evolve over the course of the pandemic, feelings of uncertainty over when our lives will return to normality loom over us all.
Although everyone deals with varying levels of personal stress, the effects of stress can be especially difficult to manage if one has symptoms of a clinical mental health condition. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety and depressive disorders are the cause of the loss of over a trillion dollars globally every year.
One resource to help employees is a mental health day. Mental health days are designated days that are designed towards stress relief and burnout prevention. Although taking one day off is likely not going to solve significant underlying mental health issues, mental health days can aid in bringing back higher levels of energy and a fresh perspective by providing a temporary pause to the constant stress of balancing work and family life in a pandemic.
How Can a Mental Health Day Help?
Scheduling a day off ahead of time can help in relieving the stress of taking a day off by ensuring enough time to find replacements or rearranging your workload. Upon taking a mental health day to focus on relieving stress, one can expect to de-stress, organize their emotions, relax, reset their perspective, physically and mentally rest, and/or take a step back to evaluate their current situation.
Make the Most of Your Mental Health Day Off
When taking a mental health day, it is important that one prioritizes their needs based on their current mental and physical condition. It is also necessary to take into consideration what forms of self-care and stress coping mechanisms work best for them. For some individuals this could look like resting in their pajamas and watching mindless TV for hours while for others, it could look like partaking in physical activities such as attending a yoga class, getting a massage, taking a walk, or swimming. Utilizing the tools needed to effectively make successful use of a mental health day is the main goal of taking a break to clear your mind and take time on self-care.
Personal mental health care should be considered a daily priority. Just like our physical health. It is important that we are cognizant of our stress levels or changes to our behavior that might be warning signs for further attention. Mental health days can be useful in giving employees a day off to take a breath – a much-needed break from our everyday stressors. It may also help them evaluate if there are healthy changes that they need to make in their thinking, attitudes, perspectives, and self-care activities to increase both their work performance and personal well-being.
About the Authors
Norman Winegar, LCSW, CEAP, NCAC II is the Chief Clinical Officer at Espyr. For over 30 years, Norman has practiced in mental health, substance misuse, and EAP settings. He has also worked in leadership positions in both public and private sector behavioral health organizations. An author of four books, he is frequently called on for presentations and as a panelist to share his expertise and experience as a mental health professional.
Yeji Jang, MSW Intern, is a graduate intern at Espyr, working in the Network and Provider Relations Department and with Espyr’s Chief Clinical Officer. A graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.S. in Psychology, and having worked with immigrant populations, she is currently finishing her last semester at Indiana University’s Graduate School of Social Work. After graduation, Yeji will pursue the goal of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and then wants to practice clinical social work in a behavioral health setting.
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For over 30 years Espyr, has provided innovative mental health solutions to organizations operating under some of the most challenging conditions. Espyr’s portfolio of customized counseling, coaching and consulting solutions help people and organizations achieve their full potential by providing mental health support and driving positive behavioral change. For more information on how Espyr can help your organization, call Espyr at 888-570-3479 or click here.