You’re so stressed that even your stress is stressed out. You’re overworked and overwrought, aching for a day off to chill and recharge, but you keep putting it off.

Well, no more. It’s time to take a day off.

“We try to convince ourselves that feeling overwhelmed and stressed out and not having time to take a day off is normal — but it’s not normal,” says Dr. Adam Perlman, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine. “It’s just your reality at that moment.”

If you’re going to do it though, do it right. Don’t wait until you’re totally losing it and then call in sick. Lying to your boss, and sticking it to your fellow overworked colleagues, isn’t good mental health karma. Plus, it’s not really that helpful.

“A crisis response may provide relief, but it’s not really prevention,” says Dr. Lloyd Sederer, medical director of the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Instead, plan it. See a rough patch coming up? Now is the time to schedule a three-day weekend or two. That way, your colleagues can plan around it.

“It’s about learning your own self-management, an ongoing steady attention to a healthy life,” Sederer says.

Still not convinced? Time to turn the mirror around: Your very inability to plan a one-day escape may be the best evidence that you really, really need it. If any of these excuses sound familiar, you probably need to take a day:

I’m too stressed even to plan time off. “That’s learned helplessness,” Perlman says. “It can be a self-defeating and dangerous thinking style. Your ticker-tape thoughts that ‘I’m too busy to take a day off’ (are) a warning sign. You’re undervaluing your own self-worth. Isn’t your health and well-being worth taking the time?”

I have way too much work. Time isn’t that linear. Sometimes you can solve a problem in a creative flash while other times you just stare at the screen for hours without really getting much done.

 

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