Today, mental health in the workplace is getting the attention it deserves. Read our tips on how to prioritize your mental health and the best way to ask for time off when you need it.

You enjoy your job, but long hours, challenging tasks and distracting co-workers can all take their toll on your mental health.

Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year? And that according to Mental Health America, 4 in 5 Americans say workplace stress affects their relationships with friends, family and coworkers.

Poor mental health also impacts your productivity and performance at work. You’re likely to feel less motivated, and you may find yourself withdrawing from colleagues.

Before your brain frazzles to the point of burnout, it’s important to take stock.

what steps can I take to prioritize my mental health?

take breaks

Stepping away from your desk for short periods helps reduce stress. It also increases productivity and creativity, as you tend to be more focused once you return.


Regular exercise is a win-win, as it boosts your mental well-being and keeps you fit. By releasing endorphins, it can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

eat well

​​​​​​​Tempting as it is to maintain a candy stash in your desk drawer, switching sugary snacks for nutrient-rich foods can work wonders on your mood. Load up on those fruits and veggies, and pack a lunch with lean meats and complex carbs.

mix up your tasks

If you hit a brick wall, put your task to one side and move onto something completely different. When you come back, you’ll feel refreshed and may come up with that eureka moment.

focus on your work/life balance

It’s easy to let work spill over into your free time. Modern technology has blurred the boundaries between the office and home, and it can be hard to ignore those pings on your phone.

Is it rude to ignore late-night work emails and chat messages? Unless you have agreed to be “on call,” absolutely not. Discuss with your boss the hours you will and won’t be available for work and communicate this arrangement to your colleagues. You could also create a schedule for yourself, laying out fixed times for work tasks and leisure time. Remember to use that free time to do things that make you happy.

how do I tell my boss I need mental health time?

Working yourself to the bone won’t help you or your company. Approaching your manager to ask for time off may seem daunting, but remind yourself you deserve it.

  1. Rehearse your lines. Planning your words means you’ll feel less stressed when you step into your manager’s office. You could also point out the value to the company of allowing you time off, explaining you’ll feel re-energized and more focused when you come back.
  2. Don’t feel you have to explain yourself. There’s no need to share all the ins and outs of why you need time off. You can simply say you’re requesting a day for your health.
  3. Check your company’s policies. You may only have to ask for a sick day, in which case simply follow the standard procedure in your employee handbook.
  4. Make the most of your day. This day is yours to do whatever you want, whether lounging on the sofa with a trashy novel, binge-watching a favorite show or finding your inner zen.

rediscover your motivation with a new career

Sometimes prioritizing your mental health means deciding to change jobs. If you’re searching for a new role, Randstad USA can help find the perfect position to match your skills.