The Benefits of Mental Health Leave

Published: May 19, 2022

 Productivity       Workplace Issues       
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Working hard can sometimes lead to stress and burnout. Recently, we’ve been talking a bit about the signs of burnout, the different types of solutions that are available to you, and how to approach your employer about taking some time off in order to take care of your mental well-being, but what are the benefits of mental health leave? And what should you do in the event your request for leave is approved? Today we will be talking about the advantages of mental health leave, and how to maximize the potential of your time off from work.

Whether you’ve taken intermittent leave or continuous leave from work, you’re likely already feeling the relief that comes from not facing the pressure of rushing to work every morning. If you’re especially burnt out, the temptation to sleep in and remain in bed all day will be incredibly strong. Sure, rest is an integral component of your mental health leave, but you shouldn’t sleep away your valuable time off.


Create a New Routine

Mental health leave is an excellent opportunity to get into a new and healthier routine. More sleep can sometimes be the cure for a tired mind and body, but often times it’s what you do while you’re awake that has the greatest impact on your mental and physical stamina. If your diet hasn’t been great and you’ve been somewhat of a couch potato due to crippling stress, now is the time to break the cycle.

It would be wise to take some time during the first days of your leave to stock up on some healthy foods to eat during the day. Try to pick whole foods that are relatively easy to prepare, depending on your skill level in the kitchen. It can be surprisingly fun to try new things and plan out a new diet, so take your time and don’t let yourself feel rushed.

Next, set your alarm for an hour or so earlier than you used to have it. When it’s time to get up, go for a walk or engage in some light exercise at home first thing in the morning. Then, make yourself a nutritious breakfast with all that great food you just bought. A good morning routine and a healthy breakfast should set the tone for the rest of your day, and will eventually lead to an increase in energy.


Get Back into Your Hobbies

Now that you’re taking better care of your physical health, let’s see about dusting off the old brain, shall we? Recent stresses may have caused you to lose interest in your hobbies, and now is the perfect time to get back into the things you love to do. If you like to read, get yourself a new book or books and take this time off to really sit and enjoy them. If exercising is your favorite hobby, then take this opportunity to bring your fitness to the next level. It cannot be overstated that exercise is key to a healthy body and mind, so if you’ve never done it before, now is a great time to start.

If you’re like me and you have a bunch of different hobbies, then by all means, engage in every single one of them – but here is a word of advice: make sure that you spend some time outside each day, weather permitting, as the sun is extremely important to your overall health and well-being. Perhaps you can take one of your favorite hobbies outside; a nice book on the porch, the sweet sounds of your dollar store harmonica out in the backyard, or just sitting and admiring the scenery. Yes friends, getting some sun each day is very important and it will make you feel good…just uh, don’t stare directly at it or anything.


Friends and Family

Sometimes the stress of life can cause us to retreat into ourselves, and while we may not mean it, we might be distancing ourselves from the important people around us. Take this time off as an opportunity to reconnect with friends, or to visit family. Make some plans to go on some day trips; hiking, bowling, game night, whichever suits your fancy (I’ve been trying to work that in for longer than you know).

The human connection is very important, even to the most introverted of introverts. Keep in mind that your mental health leave is your own personal business, and if you feel uncomfortable sharing that with anyone, it’s perfectly fine. Make certain that once you reconnect with your friends and family, you are consistent with communication, even when you’ve gone back to work.


When It’s Time to Return

Your employer may require you to check in from time to time during your leave, or if you’re on intermittent leave, you may yet have tasks to complete while you’re not in the office. Use this as an opportunity to try out new processes or ways of doing things. New challenges can sometimes be the missing ingredient to a renewed sense of purpose at work.

Let’s not let all that time building a new routine go to waste. If you’ve been eating better and getting at least a little exercise each day, keep it going when you return to work; you’ll find that your energy levels will be much higher, and you’ll be far less likely to become easily stressed or burnt out.

While work can take up most of our time, let us also continue to engage with hobbies and things that make us feel happy and fulfilled. Having that time to yourself is incredibly important for resting and recharging. Similarly, all that time at work can lead to missed connections in your personal life, so do your best to carve out time to say hello to friends and family when you are able.

Now that you’ve had some time to yourself to rest, reflect, and recharge, you should feel more energetic, productive, and mentally agile as ever! Congratulations, you’ve survived burnout – now it’s time to work on getting that promotion.