According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness. That’s many of us. Yet American culture still tends to treat mental illness differently than other diseases, such as asthma or cancer, when really, there should be no distinction. Mental health is a cause that’s close to our hearts here at M Booth, which is why last month we announced MonuMental, a new agency-wide program focused on opening up and normalizing the conversation around mental health.

MonuMental represents a commitment to the holistic health of every employee, and among other policies and resources, we offer free, confidential counseling, a judgement-free sick day policy, and a WFH policy that accounts for those who need to be in an environment that sustains them differently. To celebrate our new initiative and honor May being Mental Health Awareness Month—and help get the conversation started!—our team members open up about why it’s important to take mental health days, and the nourishing ways they spend them.

Anmol Sekhri says:
  • WHY IT MATTERS As I’ve gotten older, self-care has become more and more important. We each have our own daily burdens and every now and then you need to take that load off. Shut off your laptop, focus your efforts on yourself, and reinvigorate your soul. 
  • MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY I intentionally limit my productivity to three or four low-impact tasks that I don’t consciously make time for. Small things that leave me with a smile, like going to a new coffee shop and people watching, doodling, and reading a few chapters of a book. I’m also a long way from home so there’s something very comforting in calling friends and family back home, spontaneously, just to say hi.
Samantha Maceil says:
  • WHY IT MATTERS For me taking a mental health day means I know I’m going to give myself the time and space to relax and unwind. I easily get caught up in obsessing over work and am definitely a perfectionist, so when I take a mental health day I make sure I’m completely offline and give myself that much needed break.
  • MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY Ideally, it would start off with some type of workout, whether that’s going for a run or a pilates class, on IG or in person when we’re not in quarantine. A mix of catching up on a book I’m reading, watching TV, taking a longggg nap (like 3-4 hours), or running errands are also usually slotted in my day. All in all, it’s about self-care for me and listening to what my body and mind really need that day.
Colleen Cass says:
  • WHY IT MATTERS Mental health has been negatively stigmatized in our culture for too long. It’s important to create resources and space for those affected so that we can all bring our best selves to work. 
  • MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY I begin with making sure my team has the resources and information they need in my absence. Then I set defined boundaries for my day (e.g., limiting my screen time). Then it’s all about me and my self-care, baybeee. Lately I’ve been enjoying doodling with watercolor pencils and finding the joy in creating something that’s just for me. I like to put on some music or maybe an audio book and just get lost. If my mental health is particularly struggling that day, I will set up a video call with my therapist to discuss how I’ve been feeling. 
Shauna Milano says:
  • WHY IT MATTERS Taking mental health days is extremely important for the mind and body. Think of life as a marathon and not a sprint. It’s important to pace yourself accordingly—however, there may be times when the speed is simply out of your control. A million things hit at once, and you may need a little water break followed by a good stretch. Recognizing when you need that break is important so that you can take the time to recharge, and get right back into it.
  • MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY For me, taking a mental health day is about self-care. I first start with connecting with my team to make sure they have everything they need from me while I am out. Doing this brings comfort, and I am less likely to check my email a thousand times! I then may workout, and make myself a nice healthy breakfast. The rest of the day is really determined based on how I am truly feeling. If I feel like I need the support from my friends and my family, I may spend extra time with my father for a good convo, or my wonderful niece and nephews for a good laugh. If I feel as if I need more alone time, I may take a drive down to the beach, or even read, or watch a good movie. I try to limit the use of my phone, or any electronic devices because time goes by too quickly while staring at a screen, and I want the most of my day!
Joe Hamrahi says:
  • WHY IT MATTERS I’ll be honest. I still struggle with detaching and giving myself time to unwind and breathe. It’s hard to break old habits, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort. I’m not great at putting myself first, but with help and support, I’ve learned to focus a bit more on me than I used to. Designated mental health days certainly help.
  • MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY It begins with going to the gym. That is, when you are actually allowed to go to the gym. I recently started working with a personal trainer who I swear doubles as a therapist. He’s awesome and has helped push me to achieve my physical fitness goals, which has led to a greater state of mental well-being as well. I also love to be near, around, or on water…oceans, lakes, rivers, and pools! There’s something about water that is super calming to me. So much so that I learned how to captain small boats last summer on the Long Island Sound. If I can get to the gym and/or be near a waterway, I know I’ll be in a good place.
Emily Michael says:
  • WHY IT MATTERS Over the last few years, I have learned that my mental and physical health is more important than anything else in my life. It has to be number one. Sometimes, we just need to take a day to reset, change a routine, take an unexpected (or planned) break from whatever is happening.
  • MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY For me, a mental health day is probably focussing on my baby and giving him all my attention. Putting my phone down as much as possible, closing my laptop and just engaging with him; reading books, teaching him about the world around him. The smile on his face makes it worth it! This is especially needed at a time when being a working parent means being pulled in so many directions. It’s easy to feel like you aren’t doing a good job. Being able to focus on one thing/priority at a time helps me with that.

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