October 10 is World Mental Health Day. It is a day set aside to spread awareness and education about mental health and fight the stigmas associated with it through campaigns. While a day for such an important topic is to be applauded, we recognize the importance of mental health and believe it needs to be brought into the everyday conversation. Mental health affects your personal life, your career and your relationships, so there is a great need to treat it with care and normalize the conversation around it.

What we want to talk about is the importance of downtime: taking a mental health day from work and responsibilities. We get it, work is important: it gives us the financial security we need and allows us to move up within the company. But, work can get the best of us. The long hours, the pressures of demanding bosses, the hostile atmosphere in the office space, are just some of the things that can bring even the best worker to a breaking point. It is essential to assess the situation and see if your mental health is affected. Are any of these issues making you feel unmotivated at work? Are you suffering from bouts of anxiety and depression? Are you unable to get enough rest so that your day at work is affected? These are questions that are key to understanding your mental state. If the answer to the above questions is yes, then it might be time to take a mental health day.


If you think you can make it through the weekend, then you could commit to pulling the plug completely on a Sunday. You could even plan ahead and take a paid sick day on a Friday, giving you three full days to recover. If you're feeling extremely exhausted or overwhelmed, don't hesitate to use the sick card right away. Ideally, in good company, the powers that be should encourage mental health days. Taking time off can help employees return to work motivated, leading to better company performance. If taking mental health days from work is frowned upon, then it's time to look for a new job.


It's essential to treat a mental health day a little differently than a holiday. Here are all the things you should do to make the most of your mental health day. There are no hard rules to follow; ultimately, you know your mind and body best. But here are some suggestions that would do you good. -


Attend a yoga class: a good yoga session can do wonders for your mind, body and soul. The goal of the practice is to slow down your travel, find your center and breathe deeply. With each exhalation, you should release all your work and life problems. You will feel rejuvenated at the end of the class. Regular yoga practice will do wonders for you and getting on the mat when you think you are low on energy will ensure that your energy cup overflows.


Meditate: When was the last time you sat still and did nothing? We are living in an age where we feel like punishing ourselves for daring to sit still and fold our arms and do nothing. Allow your minds to feel liberated enough to not carry the burdens of your life. Use mental health day to release your fears and think positive, encouraging thoughts, or better yet, don't allow yourself to think at all. Our minds hold so much that it doesn't occur to us that releasing them will not have negative repercussions on us.


Reduce dependence on technology: don't waste a mental health day. On a typical day, even after work hours, we are glued to our phone reading emails, articles and messages paving the way for information overload. Make the most of your mental health day by turning off technological devices or at least put them on silent mode. Stay away from social media; it can easily put you in a bad mood. Most of the content you see is a feed of enviable vacation photos and the accomplishments of others highlighted, which tends to leave us comparing the best of others to the worst. Keep in mind that social media is a very curated source: people never highlight their lows, only their wins.


Write down your thoughts: get a pen and paper and write down what you want. Write down your goals or use the activity to discover what is getting you down. Journaling can give you great mental clarity and a sense of relief when you finally know the source of your worries or stress.


Read a book instead of Netflix: we all depend on Netflix, there's no point denying it. It's a fun platform that dishes out hours and hours of endless content, so it's very easy to binge. But when your mental health is weak, it's best to turn off the TV and maybe pick up a good book to read. Reading is therapy for the soul and allows you to focus on the writing and the meaning of the words. The silence and focus, as well as the promise of an excellent story, will leave you in a happy space of mental health. Reading means using your brain; you have to pay attention to what the writer is saying. Watching television is a passive activity, your eyes may be on the screen, but your mind may be on another planet. So turn off the TV and stick your nose in a book because there is no better feeling than finishing a fascinating book.


Take a long shower followed by a good night's rest: taking a bath can wash away all the negative energy from the stressful day and leave you feeling refreshed. You can add some magnesium salt to a bucket of warm water and pour it over your body. Follow this by making your bedroom optimal for a good night's rest. Dim the lights, put away the technology and get into bed. Sometimes sleeping earlier than usual is all it takes to reset your mind.


Try aromatherapy - a treatment that uses essential oils to enhance physical and mental well-being. At Holland and Barrett, we offer a wide range of aromatherapy products, each of which has unique benefits. This could be a small step that furthers your journey to mental wellness, a key component to good mental health. Below, we list some essential oils that can help you. Essential oils can be used for inhalation and skin care. When you inhale this scent, the aroma comes into contact with the olfactory cells. As a result, they send a nerve impulse that reaches that part of the brain that deals with emotions and instincts.

Like everything else in life, finding what works best for your mental health requires trial and error. You know best what you need. The bottom line is to not be too hard on yourself and pay attention when your body and mind need a break.