Mental Health Days: What Are They and Why Take One?

A mental health day is a day taken off from work or other responsibilities to prioritize one's mental health. It’s a day to focus on self-care, relaxation, and stress reduction. It can be beneficial for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or experiencing other signs of poor mental health.

Taking a mental health day can help prevent burnout and improve productivity. When we’re stressed or overwhelmed, our performance at work or school tends to suffer. We become less focused, less creative, and less productive. By taking a mental health day, we give ourselves the opportunity to rest, recharge, and come back with renewed energy and focus.

There are many ways to spend a mental health day.

Here are some ideas:

1. Get More Sleep

Sleep deprivation is both a cause and a consequence of poor mental health. Studies show that a lack of sleep can lead to an overactive amygdala – the part of your brain that generates your stress response.

When you’re sleep deprived, getting less than 7 hours sleep a night, there will likely be an increase in cortisol and adrenaline in your system.

As the NHS website explains:

"When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits,

it turned out that most of them slept for less than six hours a night. One in three of us suffers from poor sleep, with stress, computers and taking work home often blamed. However, the cost of all those sleepless nights is more than just bad moods and a lack of focus. Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy. It’s now clear that a solid night’s sleep is essential for a long and healthy life."


So, don’t jump out of bed at dawn on your mental health day. If possible, turn off your alarm and give yourself a chance to wake up naturally.

2. Exercise

Physical activity is an evidence-based way to reduce stress and boost mood. Taking a mental health day to go for a run, or explore effective yoga training programs that cater specifically to enhancing mental wellness can provide significant benefits. Yoga, in particular, mixes physical movement with mindfulness practices, making it an excellent choice for improving both physical and mental health.

3. Reconnect with Family and Friends

When dealing with poor mental wellbeing, it’s always a good idea to try to talk the people you’re close to. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Spending time together, taking a walk, and recalling memories and shared experiences can help you feel better.

4. Catch Up on Your To-Do List

Small things like cleaning the fridge or tidying the shed often get pushed to the side in the bustle of daily life. The frustration of not having the chance to complete these tasks can easily lead to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.

By catching up on your to-do list on a mental health day, you can experience a sense of accomplishment and control. Accomplishing small tasks gives you a dopamine hit, providing you with a boost in energy and motivation. It can also help clear mental clutter and increase focus on other aspects of your life.

Moreover, organizing your environment can have a direct impact on your mental health. A clean and tidy space can promote a sense of calmness, clarity, and order, and can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

5. Engage in a Hobby

Engaging in a hobby such as painting, playing music, or reading can be a great way to reduce stress and improve mental health. Or perhaps you’re interested in discovering a new hobby? Be sure to check out our Self-Care Activities Checklists for inspiration.

6. Practice Relaxation Techniques

One of the best ways to de-stress is through the use of relaxation techniques. These techniques can include breathing exercises, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization.

Practicing relaxation techniques on a mental health day can help lower stress levels and promote a sense of calmness and relaxation. For optimal mental wellbeing, try practicing relaxation techniques on a daily basis.

7. Invest in Self-Care

Finding yourself a self-care goodie is a great activity for a mental health day! Check out this article with 12 Thoughtful Self-Care Gift Ideas for inspiration.

8. Seek Professional Support

If poor mental wellbeing is starting to interfere with your daily functioning, taking a mental health day to seek professional help can be beneficial. You can schedule an appointment with a therapist to discuss your mental health concerns.


When it comes to improving your mental health, prevention is always the best approach. We highly recommend taking a mental health day if you notice yourself experiencing the signs of poor mental wellbeing.

It’s important to note that taking a mental health day should not be viewed as a sign of weakness. Mental health is just as important as physical health – and the two are intertwined.

To make the most of your mental health day, you could get more sleep, exercise, reconnect with family and friends, catch up on to do lists, engage in hobbies, practice relaxation techniques, invest in self-care, or seek professional support if necessary.


About Rebecca

Rebecca is the founder of The Wellness Society and author of two fluff-free books, The Framework and Understanding and Healing Trauma.

She's passionate about creating concise and compassionate mental health and wellbeing tools that address the root causes of distress.

Read more about her views on our About page.