When we live in a society that works to make a living, it’s difficult to take a day off – let alone taking it off to focus on yourself. Working a job can be consuming, especially when you work long shifts at a hospital or are constantly on your feet all day taking care of others. Balancing getting ahead at work and keeping yourself and your family healthy can sometimes be a difficult dilemma.
So, how can you handle taking a break for a day? And how can you address it with your employer? When you are first hired at any company, according to Inc.com, “sick leave and personal days are a form of employment benefit in the form of paid time off for illness or to deal with a personal/private matter.” It’s up to the company’s policy, however, to make it known when employees can and cannot take personal days. While a sick day is fairly self-explanatory, a personal day can “cover things like the illness of a child, a death in the family, jury duty, military obligations or religious holidays.”
Typically, companies set a certain number of sick and personal days, as well as vacation days, for an employee which is discussed during the hiring process. Since there are only so many days allocated to the employee, it’s up to them to use them wisely.
Working a long, exhausting job can bring on added stress and can potentially lead to burnout or work fatigue. Taking a mental health day is a great way to give yourself a break from work and relax for the day. But what if your company doesn’t offer mental health days?
Even though mental health has come a long way in our society, according to healtline.com, you still might have to use a sick day or Paid Time Off (PTO) to take a mental health day. While “taking sick days for physical health is commonplace… the practice of taking time off work to tend to your mental health is more of a gray area.”
When you are working long, tiring shifts, you might start to feel overwhelmed, stressed or have trouble focusing. Showing any of these signs, per healthline.com, is a great time to try and cash in a mental health day. Remember, “Your mental health is just as important to your overall well-being as your physical health. Just like any bout of illness or bodily distress, your mind needs time to rest and recover.”
How should you spend your mental health day? Here are a few suggestions:
Although these are just a few suggestions, it’s important to remember that self-care looks different for everyone. What makes you feel better doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make someone else feel good. So, while it may feel strange to take a day off to put your mind at ease, it might be necessary. Healthline.com says, “Mental health days are necessary for healthy, happy employees and a better workplace overall.”
And while your mental health is important, there are other top-priority reasons why you should take a day off. Maybe, you aren’t feeling well and you need to call in sick? Maybe, you have a long-awaited dentist appointment you’ve been putting off for months? Or maybe, you are planning to celebrate your tenth anniversary with your spouse? These are valid reasons why someone might miss work, and with the proper use of PTO, sick leave or using a personal day, you can get all these tasks done.
When you work in the field of medicine, it’s sometimes tough to diagnose your own symptoms and call in sick because you might feel guilty about leaving your patients and colleagues short-staffed. “And, you’re not alone,” writes Nurse.org. “Most nurses and physicians have gone into work sick. It’s a daily occurrence and a known fact in the healthcare field. But why?”
Most nurses, according to Nurse.org, go into work while they are sick because they feel guilty about leaving their coworkers short-staffed. Calling in sick just hours before your shift leaves little time to find coverage and typically motivates nurses to come in even when they are feeling ill. However, this shouldn’t be the case. And in fact, coming into work feeling sick or with any other symptoms might make you less productive, as well as running the risk of exposing patients to your illness.
So, what should you do? You should call in sick and take a sick day. And, if your employer doesn’t offer a sick day and instead rolls them under PTO, you should try using that. Although it may be tempting, going into work sick is a lose-lose situation and you should be spending it at home, taking care of yourself.
When you work every day or work long shifts, it can be tough to get things done such as doctors appointments, car oil changes, paying your bills, etc. If you get behind on those matters, look into taking a personal day off. Or, if your company doesn’t offer sick or personal days and instead lumps them into PTO, try planning and scheduling ahead to take some time off to get caught up in your personal affairs.
According to inhersight.com, there are a few different reasons why you should consider taking a personal day:
Another great reason to take a day off is to re-energize yourself so that you can start to feel like yourself again. “Workplace stress can impact your stress levels, your mood, your sleep and yes, your energy,” writes inhersight.com. Taking a personal day and cooking a new recipe, taking a nap or signing up for an exercise class can help.
So, do you need a break from work? This doesn’t mean you need to take a month off in order to be a better employee, but taking a day or two can’t hurt. While taking a relaxing vacation is a great way to reset and unwind, taking a sick day or personal day when you need to can also be what the doctor ordered.