This is the subhead for the blog post
Today, 3Q’s work-life balance series examines the topic of personal days (or mental health days) and why companies that genuinely want employees to use them are doing the right thing.
It had been a long weekend. My parents were visiting from out of town, which meant any (remote) possibility of my son napping was out the window, so I didn’t even get my usual short window of quiet time on Saturday and Sunday. Add to that my son coughing all night (both nights), and I was a mess. When I went to turn on my computer on Monday morning, I decided there was no point even trying to fake my way through the day.
I sent my boss a PTO request. I could have lied and said I’d come down with a nasty cold, or some emergency had come up, but I didn’t, because I’m tired of pretending to be a superwoman who can effortlessly juggle a demanding job, a demanding (but adorable) son, and a social life. It’s hard, and I needed a break. [Side note: I’m also still bitter about a former colleague, not at 3Q, who would leave the team voicemails telling us she had to stay home sick – accompanied by horrible fake coughing – and then show up the next day, miraculously back to 100% and with a new haircut or manicured nails. I appreciate honesty.]
So I told my manager, quite simply, that I needed to take the day off to sleep. It was a busy time for me, as I was in the middle of onboarding four new HR platforms following our company buyback. He would have had every right to say no. But his response? “Sweet dreams…”
Now the only question was – how? How was I actually going to get myself to sleep? Because even though I have this amazingly supportive manager who allowed me this time off to rest, and even though I was tired of trying to do it all, I am who I am. And if I’m sitting at home and see laundry to be done, or dishes to be washed, or a pile of unopened mail… I can’t ignore it. So I decided my only choice was to leave the house.
I headed to one of my favorite spots for relaxation: King Spa, a “Korean-inspired spa” the size of an IKEA with multiple saunas, pools, relaxation zones, massages, an amazing restaurant, and much, much more. I placed my cellphone in the locker with my other belongings and didn’t take it out until I was ready to leave 6 hours later. That, coupled with not being confronted by a messy house, allowed me to fully disconnect and recharge.
I watched a horrible rom com in the movie room and caught up on my book club reading while eating sundubu-jjigae (perfect on that cold, rainy day) before I eventually dozed off for a couple of hours in the Oxygen Room.
I didn’t spend the whole time sleeping, but I did leave feeling mentally and physically refreshed. Although my PTO has allowed me to travel to multiple continents and spend valuable time with family and friends, this was, without a doubt, one of the best PTO days I ever had.
It can be hard sometimes to give ourselves a break or even to acknowledge that we need one. It can be even harder to ask our managers or team members to allow us that time. But taking time off – whether you want to call it a personal day or a mental health day – is something most of us could probably use a lot more often than we think.