Women’s Health – 8 Signs You Need To Take A Mental Health Day Right Now

It isn’t always easy to know when you might need a mental health day, and sometimes even trickier to know what to do when you can actually eek one out. Women’s Health asked me to weigh in on signs you might need a mental health day, and best strategies for using the time well. Here are some excerpts from this great roundup.

To read the full article at Women’s Health, click HERE.


“The part of the brain that interprets our thoughts, feelings, and impulses is particularly sensitive to the impact of sleep,” says Alicia Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C. “The average person needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night.” But when you’re consistently facing high stress levels, according to Marra Ackerman, M.D., director of women’s mental health in the department of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, you can develop insomnia—difficulty falling or staying asleep despite exhaustion.


Taking a rest day to sleep in, take a good, long nap and get to bed early could be just the remedy you need to get your head and body straight again. “Sleep can be a powerful tool in bolstering our cognitive and emotional resources, and a day spent drifting in and out of sleep can be powerfully healing,” says Clark.


“Feeling physically tense, restless, and achy is often a sign that you have too much pent-up energy and emotion,” says Clark. “Time during a day off spent moving your body in a gentle but exhilarating way can be hugely restorative. A brisk walk with a friend, a yoga class, or a bike ride in nature can do wonders. Exercising to the point of sweat can help you think better and more clearly, which in turn can help you feel better.”


“Massage therapy can also be very helpful in breaking through muscular tightness that is contributing to stress and irritation,” continues Clark. “A hot bath or a steam shower can likewise be helpful in relaxing sore and tired muscles, as well as reduce irritating inflammation. Pampering your muscles can promote relaxation that in turn promotes a sense of wellness.”


You might think that guzzling multiple cups of coffee daily will help you power through the work week. But, on the contrary, fueling your days with caffeine will only make you feel more sluggish over time.

“Consuming too many caffeinated beverages and too little water leads to your body getting dehydrated,” says Clark. The cure? Step away from the coffee room at work and spend a day at home replenishing your system. “Drinking as much water as possible can help flush toxins and give your system the hydration it needs,” Clark continues. “Taking time to nourish your body with healthy food and plenty of water can go a long way to perk up your body and mind.”


If there’s one thing that can make you feel detached from the rest of the world, it’s sitting in front of a computer, buried so deeply under a pile of to-dos that you hardly have time to come up for air. “It isn’t hard to feel lonely while coping with the demands of modern life, and pushing ourselves too far can sometimes cause us to withdraw from friends and family who love and support us,” says Clark.”


When you find yourself unwittingly withdrawing from the people that you love thanks to growing demands at work, a mental-health day may be in order to reconnect with your social circle—and yourself. “Connecting with people who understand and help us feel strong can be a powerful tool in restoring a sense of connection and belonging,” continues Clark. “Likewise, helping a friend in need can help us restore a sense of social purpose that can go missing when we are too consumed with our own lives.”


And finally, if a mental-health day doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, it could be a loud wake-up call that you need professional help. “Clinical levels of anxiety and depression don’t tend to go away with a single day off—sometimes not even with a vacation,” says Clark. “A professional can discuss with you the various treatments that can help you navigate your situation more effectively.”



Alicia H. Clark, PsyD