In this country, we have been brought up to pursue success at any cost, by way of the American Dream (most of us have, anyway). Though this universally-held dream of the good life has been all but debunked in the past few decades, as we ride out the wave of the so-called Great Recession, American entrepreneurs still work themselves into the ground to keep their business alive.
As the owner of a new small business or startup, you will naturally have to eat, sleep, and breathe your business. That takes its toll on someone pretty quickly, which is why you have to periodically take some time for self-care.
What is a “mental health day”?
A mental health day is basically a new way of saying you’re taking a day off from work. We started to call it this only as everyone began to place more value and emphasis on mental health than we have in the past. This time off is generally not scheduled, but instead you wake up one day and realize that you are just too overwhelmed to face work.
Obviously, you can’t take a day off on a regular basis, and if you feel completely overcome with stress every day, regardless of how much time off you get, then there is probably a deeper problem that you need to address. Stress is the silent killer.
You have one of the most stressful jobs of all.
To be fair, work is stressful for all of us, but running a business is in a category all its own. Everybody knows that air traffic controllers, police officers, firefighters, and single moms (and all the other high-stress jobs) certainly don’t have it easy, but you don’t always find business owners on that list.
It’s possible that we don’t feel bad for business owners because after all, they are their own boss—how bad could it be? But the truth is that the stakes couldn’t be higher for the owner because not only are you completely screwed if it fails, but all the people in your employ are also depending on the success of the business.
It’s a constant juggling act for a business owner, facing down emergencies for breakfast, and putting out fires for the rest of the day.
All work and no play makes you a dull business owner.
Ever heard the saying, “Work to live; don’t live to work”? It is imperative that you remind yourself that you have a life outside of your business, and participating in your life gives you a sense of well-being, which then causes you to be more productive at work.
You have heavy responsibility that demands a great deal of your attention and energy, every day, and you have to relax at some point. In the words of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
You’ll get trapped in a vicious cycle.
When things get tough, tough people just push through it, right? Well, yes and no. The problem with refusing to take a break is that you’re defeating yourself without even knowing it. After a while, you get used to pushing through work every day with little rest in between, and being exhausted begins to feel normal.
And so, you end up operating at 60 percent of your capacity all the time because you haven’t taken the necessary time to rest. Once again, it doesn’t do your business any good when you refuse to take a much-needed day off.
You’re the boss. You don’t need permission to take a day.
You have no doubt worked jobs in the past that didn’t allow you to take a day off, when you really just needed some room to breathe for a minute. If you’re the boss, you now find yourself in the position to take some time when you need it.
When you are exhausted or overwhelmed, you are actually helping your business by pulling away from it for a day to recharge the batteries. So the moral of the story is: Take a mental health day. You deserve it.