I want to spend a little time talking about ‘mental health days.’ Not everyone agrees with my ethics on these, but everyone does seem to agree on the utility of the idea. Here’s what I wrote in the manifesto:
DonÊ¼t let your sick days fall by the wayside. If you arenÊ¼t feeling up to working today, use a
sick day. Too many people think you actually have to be stuck in bed to use your sick days-
itÊ¼s a holdover from when mom let us stay home from school, but we had to stay in our room.
Now youÊ¼re all grown up, so use your sick days to stay healthy. But be smart about it, please.
DonÊ¼t make the folks back at the oï¬?ce wonder why youÊ¼ve got ski-goggle shadow after being
sick. Save that stuï¬? for after work or on weekends. Or, heaven forbid, an actual vacation
day. The key to using your sick days to stay healthy is to "refresh and renew."?? Get away from
distractions and get down with your inner self. Now, IÊ¼ll freely admit that I often go surï¬?ng
during my sick days. But in my neck of the woods, surï¬?ng doesnÊ¼t involve getting a tan, most
of the year. For me, surï¬?ng is meditative and relaxing. One good day of surï¬?ng will keep me
humming for a whole week, at least. If you need additional justiï¬?cation for using this tactic,
consider that if you use your sick days as mental health days, you may ï¬?nd that you actually
use fewer sick days. Amazing!
What people disagree with is the idea of using your “sick day” when you aren’t actually sick. I don’t want to get too abstract here, but really, what’s more sick (the bad kind of sick, not the sick that means “cool”, like all the kids say these days): waiting until you get sick to use a sick day, or using a sick day to prevent burnout and the use of extra sick days? I say the former. In fact, I’m quite sure that using a few sick days to prevent getting burned out will actually result in using fewer sick days. Problem is, I don’t have anything other than my gut feeling telling me I’m right. And good luck convincing HR without the data (I’m a former HR person, so I’m on familiar ground here).
Now here’s where I come clean: I’m guilty of not following my own advice. I haven’t taken a mental health day in a really long time, and I’m starting to feel it. Maybe that’s why I wanted to write this post. Hmmm…