The importance of taking a personal day in the time of Covid-19 

by Amalia Pryor, LCSW

In the time of Covid-19, our daily routine and lives abruptly changed in the matter of a day or two. We have had to adapt and adjust to new schedules, demands and various other stressors along the way with the transition to working from home or modified way of work. I am addressing this because I have spoken to many people about this transitional experience and it is worth a conversation about self care, balance, and managing anxieties through navigating a new reality.

Through my day to day work with my clients and discussions in my personal life with friends and family, the common theme I hear is guilt, or shame for needing a personal day or  calling in sick for a mental health day. Guilt coming from a place of, “well I’m working from home, so I don’t need time off.” Another common theme I hear is guilt or feelings of shame for wanting to take a day off when so many people have unfortunately lost their jobs in the last three months due to the economic hit of the pandemic. Also, feeling that if they ask for time off they may be at risk for being laid off if their company is considering furloughs or letting employees go. All these ideas compounded have really impacted people’s mental health and our usual coping mechanisms are not working as they did before the pandemic (i.e- the gym, meditation, vacations, entertainment). Our personal homes where we usually feel safe and for resting and privacy have now become a work space, a workout space, daycare/school and a home all in one. The energy is hard to shift at times when it is all in the same environment.

In order to recreate balance we need to take care of ourselves first before anything else. In a time of a world pandemic, taking time and days off for ourselves is very important. It seems simplistic but will go a long way. Whether you are balancing children, you and a partner are working from home, and the demands of the job. We are more drained than we can imagine.  If you are a person that has been laid off during this difficult time, taking a day off from other people and job hunting is important. Sitting with ourselves and having no obligations helps replenish our energy and self care. I encourage it. Emailing your employer or asking for a one on one conversation about needing a day off to refuel is a vulnerable conversation, but also necessary to be an effective employee. Ironically people are working longer hours working from home, since there is no transitional time space from work to the office. Commuting from the office to home and vice versa are spaces to decompress after a long work day, whether it’s public transportation, driving or walking. The concept of leaving work at work is difficult when work and home are the same. If taking a day or two off is not an option at this time, please consider boundaries with work hours. Close your laptop when you are done for the day, and take a walk or meditate. No emails after a certain hour. Prioritize you. It is the only way to re-balance stress and general mental health.

This is a very stressful time, and if you’d like a little extra support, the therapists at Encircle would be happy to meet with you for  an appointment or complimentary consultation. You may contact us directly by clicking here.

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