By Kyle Graham
Yesterday I didn’t go to work. Now this may not seem monumental, but for me it is. I started my day by texting my supervisor that I wasn’t feeling well, and that I wouldn’t be coming in today. I got several texts from co-workers asking if I was okay, or if I needed anything. I appreciated all the love, and I’m Gucci. I’m actually Facebook friends with several coworkers so they’ll probably see this post. I guess I’m dry-snitching on myself?
Yesterday I wasn’t sick… I was tired. I was mentally and physically drained. Work, my personal life, and the murders of my people all rolled into one has been stressing your boy out. When talking with one of my black coworkers he half-jokingly said that we should take off every time the police kill one of us. That was last Tuesday, and that idea really stuck in my head. You better believe that every time a police officer kills a person of color I don’t hear a peep out of many of my co-workers. But Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt file for divorce and it’s the subject of conversation all damn day. People should know that POC suffer in silence when we are gunned down in the streets. With all of the recent killings on mind, I needed a mental health day.
Now some of you may say that a mental health day is why we have weekends. I say that’s some BS. Every year Americans waste the sick days they are afforded, and I’m personally guilty of that. I figured with the year winding down I might as well take one. That meant no looking at work emails or thinking about what would be waiting for me at the office the next day.
In the morning I sat in bed, drank my coffee, and watched a documentary on Sneakerheads (it’s on Netflix… go check it out!). I can’t truly convey how calm and relaxed my spirit was. Later in the day I thought about going to look for a new suit (gotta be fresh for Elon Homecoming) or having a cigar. Or just chilling and doing nothing. The point is I had options.
In the week of planning this mental spa day I gave myself one rule. I was not allowed to feel guilty for taking a day to focus on myself. I work for a great company on a major footwear brand, and every day there is something super urgent that requires my attention. When I walk into the office I don’t know how long I’ll be there. Will I work 8 hours or 17? Will I get to go outside? Will I actually take a lunch break? I don’t say this to brag or to garner sympathy, but instead to show the toll work can take on the mind and soul.
It’s extremely important to remember that your work will always be there, and there’s always more to do. Burnout is real, and I’ve seen it happen to friends, family, and coworkers. Taking a mental health day is a great way to combat it. I’m not suggesting that you go and take one every week, but do so when you feel yourself teetering on the edge. Remember that your first loyalty is to yourself, not your employer; you have to live with yourself a lot longer than you’ll work for them. So when times are tough keep your head up, breathe, and maybe take a day off from work.
Photo Credit: Lee Chapman