Last week was a rough week at work. No detail needed, but by the time I got to Friday morning I was ready to explode or take a nap. I’m generally a very optimistic, happy person at work. But every once in a while, even I reach my limits and get bogged down by the pressure of working in a high stakes environment. Friday was one of those days. At that moment, I was not offering value to my company and I knew I wouldn’t be unless I took a time out to pull myself together.
And that I did. I had just hung up from a conference call where I could feel my negativity and frustration on display. I did not want this to affect my relationships and my reputation, and most importantly I did not want to project negative energy onto my colleagues. It was that realization that pushed me to shut my lap top and head off to the nearest Pilates class. The class was amazing and exactly what I needed. For the first time that week, I was able to clear my head of stress, negative thoughts, and emotion and focus solely on myself, my mind and my body. The high was amazing, so I didn’t stop there. I next headed off to the nearest reflexology parlor when I treated myself to a 1-hour massage. It was divine.
When I returned to my laptop 2 ½ hours later, I rocked my next meeting. I was positive, energetic, and most importantly I was able to lead the group through a productive meeting where we accomplished even more than we had planned. I firmly believe that I wouldn’t have had the energy to do this without recognizing my limits and taking the break I needed.
I recently read this viral story about a women whose company CEO celebrated her for being honest about her need for a mental health day. The story was shared around the world with tweets upon tweets expressing appreciation of the CEO’s response. It was refreshing to see this highlighted, and in a way this very story is part of what encouraged me to take the break I needed last Friday. In a sense I am lucky that my job avails me with the flexibility to do this kind of thing. But to be honest, I am still not sure that the need to “take a break,” or take care of your mental health is recognized as much as it should be in corporate culture.
So you tell me… Does your work environment make it comfortable for you to admit when you need a break? Do you feel safe taking time and space to manage your stress and mental health? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!