By Linzy Farmerie-Mogielski, Content Editor of BroglieBox
8 min read
Whether we think we are good at separating the personal and professional, we need to acknowledge the fact that we spend up to, and sometimes over, 40 hours/week of our waking life at work. That is a LOT of time that deeply matters and impacts our health. Period. A major part of taking ownership of your mental health is asking yourself if the company that you work for respects your wellness needs (physical, emotional, and mental). Because they are truly non-negotiable needs. Do they normalize and support conversations about mental health? Do they understand the importance of mental health days? Do they help to educate healthy ways of setting boundaries and dealing with stress? More and more companies are recognizing paid mental health days as a real need for their employees.
Your diagnosis does not make you incapable of doing your job. But taking a day off to refuel and rest your mind can make a huge impact on productivity, focus, and motivation. Here are three tips when approaching your manager/team about needing to take a mental health day:
TIP #1: Don’t lie.
It can feel so much easier to turn your reason for a day off into a physical ailment or emergency that is precluding you from your work. And believe me, I’ve used every excuse in the book (migraine, fever, flooded basement) to avoid the truth. But shying away from reality does three things that are simply harmful for everyone. Firstly, lies are harder to remember. It’s going to be super awkward when Brandon from HR notices you’re eating tacos for lunch after having devastating food poisoning yesterday. Secondly, lying can perpetuate the stigma that mental health issues are not real health issues. These stigmas can possibly impact facets of the job and your colleagues in the long run (from overall company culture to benefits and insurance policies). And lastly, lying also supports the idea that YOU might not believe that your mental health needs are real and justifiable needs. (Also read: My No Longer Invisible Illness)
TIP #2: Be direct and honest, but keep it professional.
While it is important to tell the truth to honor your health, you still want to keep healthy boundaries. Mental health struggles can be very personal and specific. But for the safety and privacy of you and your teammates, less is more when it comes to detail. And honestly, it’s nobody’s business what your symptoms are, what your therapist/doctor wants you to do, or what you feel like you need to do to take care of yourself. Obviously, if you feel 100% comfortable to open up appropriately, that’s one thing. Typically however, all you need to do is 1) Call off. 2) Give reason. 3) Give direction of who else they can contact. Emphasis on that last one too… TURN YOUR EMAIL OFF!!
Here is a sweet and simple email template to help you take that mental health day:
Good morning (NAME),
Due to some personal developments, I’m taking today to focus on my mental health. I will have limited access to email, but overall will be unreachable until I am back in office on (DATE). If you need immediate assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to my teammate, (NAME/EMAIL).
Thank you so much!
TIP #3: Do not apologize or internalize guilt.
Over-apologizing for things you have little control over isn’t beneficial for several reasons:
-You may think you’re displaying yourself as a nice and caring person, but you’re actually sending the message that you lack confidence and are ineffectual. It can even give a certain kind of person permission to treat you poorly, or even abuse you.
-It lessens the impact of future apologies — for situations that really warrant a sincere apology.
-Over apologizing lowers your self worth over time. By validating your truth and standing by your decision to call off, you can increase feelings of power (or control) and integrity.
When I first sent the above email to my employer, I was honestly shocked by the response. I had gotten it into my head that it was going to be this big deal with a lot of pressing questions and judgments from others. It was the opposite! To most, it just wasn’t a big deal. Others simply said, “You’ve been working hard! Please rest up and take more time if you need!” And some teammates were encouraged to do the same for themselves!
So, take that day off! Go to a park and meditate, lay in bed all day and watch Netflix, catch up on household tasks if cleaning is calming to you…
Do whatever you need to do to love yourself. Your well-being deserves all efforts.
Based in Pittsburgh PA, Linzy Farmerie-Mogielski has battled high functioning anxiety and clinical depression for most of her adult life and has found life-changing freedom and community in breaking stigmas. As an advocate for change, she speaks at events encouraging others to seek appropriate care and practice radical self-love. Through sharing her story, her superpowers have become approachability, vulnerability, and transparency! In addition to mental health, she is passionate about ministry, travel, art, and coffee! Linzy is also a member of the BroglieBox team and is Content Editor of the BroglieBlog. You can follow her on instagram at @bonjourlinzy
Stories, tips, and resources from others who have experience with anxiety can be found below:
The What, Why, And How Of Perfectionism
Taking Medicine Does Not Mean Something Is “Wrong” With You
How to Cancel Plans Without Feeling Guilty and Hurting Feelings
Tips to Manage Anxiety Around Work
How to Transition to Seeing Your Therapist Online
5 Ways to Feel Less Anxious When You’re a Sensitive Person