As a hard worker, you’ve probably avoided taking a sick day or vacation day even when you’ve needed one. You’re not alone - the reality is many people today don’t use them.

It’s okay to take some time off when you’re feeling mentally exhausted. In fact, you should.

Mental health and its effect on the workplace has only recently become a major focus of research and attention. Organizations like the Centre for Addiciton and Mental Health (CAMH) have made clear that the cost of not taking the time to recover emotionally and mentally can be just as detrimental as not treating a serious medical issue.

Depression, anxiety and many other mental health ailments can affect even the best of us. In fact, 1 in 5 Canadians has experienced a mental illness and many leave them untreated. That number increases to 1 in 2 by the age of 40.

This reality comes at a huge cost, literally, as well. In 2007, the National Physician survey estimated that the cost to businesses and taxpayers in Canada could total a whopping $50 billion a year.

So what can you do to help yourself and your employer while continuing to meet targets as a company?

It’s simple: take a mental health day. 

Even if your workplace doesn’t provide formal mental health days, taking a sick day for your own emotional and mental well-being is absolutely within your right and will only serve to benefit you and your employer.

Give yourself the chance to unwind and disconnect. Use the time to get outside, talk to your loved ones or read a book. Be sure to avoid checking your emails, taking remote meetings and/or in any way engaging with work. Taking a day means focusing on centering and recharging yourself.

When you do, you’ll find you return to work more invigorated and refreshed. In the end, that benefits everyone.