How Often Do You Really Need A Day Off?

I think we’ve all said it at least once, “I need a break”. In this fast paced, getting faster, world that we live in time off is now at a premium. Gone are the days of “I will call you tomorrow” or “I will take care of it after lunch”. With today’s modern technology “now” is the only time you have to work and “now” never seems to go away.

Researchers found that because of technology even weekends don’t satisfy the body and mind’s desire to decompress from work. With e-mail, text messaging, and instant access via mobile phone, the office is always in your pocket. The response always seems to be needed immediately.

Those scientist who study people like you and I have discovered that when we don’t take a day away from work bad things begin to happen. Those who neglect taking time off after an average of 62 days are prone to become more aggressive at work. They are also likely to develop very real physical symptoms such as body aches, pains, and even migraine headaches.

Other symptoms of not taking that needed break include difficulty sleeping and even depression. While the decision to choose to work is a personal one, there is often resentment from those who don’t directed toward those who do. This creates tension in the workplace and makes for a less than productive environment.

Many of us receive personal time off as part of our employment agreement. The interesting part of that is that only 55% of us actually use all of our allotted time. Based on this research about half of the people around you could snap at any minute. You could be one of those people too.

According to reports 62 days does seem to be the average limit when it comes to burn out in the workplace. That means about every three months, for your own good, you should take a personal day.

During that day you shouldn’t check e-mail, you shouldn’t take text messages,and you should not return phone calls. While it might seem counter productive on the next day back at the office,the change it will do your mind and body will more than make up for the more than 100 e-mails you should have returned yesterday.

5 signs you really need to take a day off or risk burnout

Has your hard work begun to fray your nerves? You may need to take a personal day to recharge your batteries. Here is how to tell when you’re due a day off.

Even if you’re in your dream job, work isn’t always going to be a dream. Peaks and troughs are normal. Some days are, inevitably, going to be better than others, and just because you sometimes don’t want to go into work doesn’t mean you have fallen out of love with your job.

It’s perfectly normal that your patience with daily challenges will occasionally wear thin, however, it also could be a sign that you are inching towards the end of your tether.

How do you differentiate between typical frustration and indications that you may need to take some time out to get your groove back? Your intuition will be a great guide on this, but checking whether you identify with any of the signs below will help push that insight a little further along.

You’ve got a bad case of the ‘Sunday scaries’

The ‘Sunday scaries’ is a colloquial term coined to describe the wave of disquiet that can wash over you as the light dwindles on a Sunday evening and you cast your mind to the week ahead. As one researcher puts it, this feeling is the “emotional discomfort at the doorstep of a new week”.

‘Sunday scaries’ are very normal. The start of the week looms large for most people, to the point that ‘I hate Mondays’ has become the clichéd rallying call of the 9-to-5 working population.

Having a nice, restful Sunday and doing lots of preparation for the week ahead can help you combat that ballooning sense of anxiety. Yet if a bath bomb and overnight oats just aren’t cutting it anymore, you may need to consider that you’re getting overwhelmed.

Brain fog is plaguing your work

Do you find yourself forgetting things that normally feel second nature? Have a lot of emails been slipping through the cracks in your inbox? Do you have problems concentrating and feel as though there is a giant wad of cotton wool inside your skull where your brain is normally meant to be?

There are myriad reasons your focus can fail you. You could be dehydrated, hungry or inadequately nourished. Perhaps the environment you’re working in could be too distracting.

It could also be that you’ve simply worked a little too hard without giving yourself an adequate break. Even if you are disciplined enough to always leave on time and take your full lunch hour – a practice we in the Careers section strenuously recommend – you need to regularly take more extended breaks from the office.

At a certain point, productivity will fall victim to diminishing returns. Taking time away from the office, if anything, will make you more productive. Not to mention that a change of scenery will generally do wonders for your creativity and problem-solving skills.

You’re feeling more irritable than usual

Work is often annoying. Clients can test your patience and office politics can grate on you. These things in moderation, as with all of the above, are completely natural.

You need to think more gravely about how to address this feeling, however, if irritability has become a resting state. If you’re a walking powder keg, you risk blowing up at an inappropriate time. That’s not only unpleasant but can potentially damage your professional reputation or relationships, and be a sign that you’re approaching burnout.

You’ll know yourself when the scales have tipped. If you spend more time with teeth clenched than you don’t, it’s a good idea for your sake – and, let’s be realistic here, for the sake of everyone around you – that you take some time out.

You are constantly unwell

I’m not talking about having the flu here. When I say unwell, I mean suffering from continuous, low-level illness. Dull and perpetual headaches, a running nose, persistent aches and pains, frequent indigestion, cold sores, or other indications that your system is slightly on the fritz.

The flu can happen to anybody and doesn’t warrant deep consideration, but if it seems like your immune system isn’t performing quite as well as it normally does, this could be a strong indication that you’re stressed. When stress happens, the body releases cortisol, which alters the immune system and suppresses the digestive system, and can have quite grave long-term effects if not addressed properly.

If this is happening to you, you may need to book some annual leave for your health, or even just take a sick day if your health issues are impacting your work.

You have a glut of unused days

You get given annual leave days for a reason – you’re meant to use them. You may be saving up your days for some grand epic excursion and hoping to carry over as many as possible in service of that goal, but there are limits. Generally, employers cap how many unused days you can transfer to the next calendar year, so don’t let those days burn a hole in your pocket.

If you’re experiencing a particularly hectic time in the office or if you are struggling financially, you may be hesitant to take time off. The office beckons and your wallet weeps. Most people can identify with that situation.

You don’t have to shell out for a big holiday or take a full week out of work. You can, alternatively, pepper your coming weeks with long weekends. Working a four-day week instead of a five-day one will leave you considerably refreshed without disrupting your upcoming projects too much.

Just take a day off, please

You may feel worried that taking time off, be it sick days or annual leave, will call your commitment to your role into question. No reasonable manager should make you feel like this is the case, and if they do you may need to consider looking for a new job rather than just taking a day off.

Taking leave is an essential component to assuring your working life and personal life remain in harmonious balance. Working yourself down to a fine powder and mechanically pressing ahead even if your body and soul scream at you will ultimately benefit no one.

How to take a mental health day from work

Does your life feel the way this desk looks? If yes, it’s way past time for a mental health day.

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Workplace culture has come a long way when it comes to wellness and mental health, but despite the fact that burnout is recognized as a real medical diagnosis, it’s still difficult for many people to take off work and care for themselves. And that’s a shame when 40% of American workers find their jobs stressful, and more than 30% say their jobs harm their physical or emotional health.

Truthfully, it shouldn’t be normal to feel worked into the ground and chronically overwhelmed. But if you do feel that way, you should take a mental health day.

Mental health days help you feel grounded and re-energized, maintain a healthy work-life perspective, manage burnout, and feel refreshed — all keys to maintaining your overall health and your ability to engage at work in the best way, for the long-term.

October 10 is World Mental Health Day; check out these stories that can help you support your mental health:

  • 7 important signs you have burnout
  • 11 meditation apps to reduce stress and help you sleep
  • How to find a therapist online
  • 5 life hacks for relieving anxiety

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What exactly is a mental health day?

A mental health day is simply a day off that is specifically and strategically geared toward stress relief. While one day off may not by itself cure burnout, a mental health day can definitely provide you with a much-needed (and well-deserved) break.

“By taking mental health days, you’re placing equal value between your mental and emotional well-being and your physical well-being,” Talkspace therapist Amy Cirbus told CNET. ” It’s an acquired skill to be able to determine when you need a mental health day, but well worth the effort.”

Ideally, these days would be scheduled far enough in advance so that you can arrange your workload or enlist help to ensure you don’t stress about what’s supposed to be a stress-free day. But that’s not always possible, and it’s totally OK to take a spur-of-the-moment mental health day if you need to.

You may feel guilty about taking time off to tend to your mental health, because the practice isn’t as common as taking a sick day for physical illness. But when you’re overly stressed, you and your work suffer, which can lead to a slew of issues. If your job requires any form of manual labor, pushing through burnout can even lead to physical injuries.

Oh, and mental health days aren’t just for adults. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a pediatric psychologist, told CNET that children, teens and young adults need mental health days just as much as working professionals do.

“The majority work more than 40 hours a week, and this work-all-the-time attitude has shifted to similar expectations for teens and young adults,” Capanna-Hodge says. “Academic demands have increased, and teens are sleeping less and less… Without adequate sleep, cognitive functioning declines and stress builds.”

It’s critical that children and teens learn how to take care of themselves with proper sleep, nutrition and stress management so by the time they reach adulthood, they’ve established healthy habits and boundaries, Cappana-Hodge says.

Signs you need a mental health day

Stress, anxiety and burnout manifest differently in everyone, but you should look out for some common symptoms. Signs you need to take a mental health day include:

  • Sleeplessness at night
  • Chronic daytime fatigue
  • Over-reliance on caffeine or other stimulants
  • Excessive difficulty focusing
  • Downturn in productivity
  • Feelings of depletion
  • Mood swings, especially irritability
  • Feelings of resentment toward your work, workplace or co-workers
  • Blurred lines between work and home life
  • Personalization of work frustrations
  • Recurring headaches, colds or other physical ailments

Experiencing many of these symptoms at once, or even just one or two on a regular basis, is a good indicator that you need a mental health day, Cirbus says.

Your heart rate and blood pressure can be good indicators that something is off — if either is higher than normal for no apparent reason, you may be experiencing stress or burnout.

James Martin/CNET

How do you tell your boss you need a mental health day?

Once you decide you need a mental health day, the next step is to actually arrange it. You may think that the easiest way to take a mental health day is to lie about being sick. While that might be the easiest tactic up front, it’s only going to further perpetuate the stigma around mental health in the workplace.

Instead of fibbing, you should tell your boss exactly what you need, Cirbus says. “Mental health is just as much a sick day as a physical sick day. Communicate to your boss that you’re not feeling well, and let them know you need to take off in order to take care of yourself.”

Some workplaces prioritize wellness, and those workplaces will welcome the idea of taking care of your mental health, knowing you’ll come back ready for work and more productive than before.

Other workplaces may not be as comfortable with the concept. Either way, you don’t need to divulge all the details, but you should stand firm in the fact that in order to work at your best, you need a day to take care of yourself.

How should you spend a mental health day?

Once you secure the day off, it’s important that you actually utilize this time to help yourself reset. That’s going to look different for everyone, but here are a few examples of effective things you can do on your mental health day:

  • Sleep in and make a big breakfast you wouldn’t normally eat on a workday.
  • Get a massage.
  • Take a nap.
  • Connect with nature on a hike, at the beach, or whatever landscape you enjoy.
  • Bake some goodies to enjoy by yourself or with friends.
  • Paint or draw.
  • Read a book.
  • Get lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Call someone you miss.
  • Complete errands you’ve been putting off.
  • Meditate

Taking a nap or snuggling pets (or both) is a great way to spend some time on a mental health day.

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You don’t need to plan a full day of activities for your mental health day. In fact, less is often more. And you don’t have to engage in Instagram-worthy self-care, either. Not everyone will feel refreshed after a floral bubble bath, face mask and hot-stone massage — some people will feel their best after a hard workout, a hearty meal and an episode of their favorite TV show. Plus, trying too hard to epitomize self-care will make it feel like more of a chore.

Just do things that will make you feel relieved, refreshed and ready for the next day back at work, even if that simply means crossing non-work-related items off of your to-do list. Whatever you choose to do, Cirbus says a great rule of thumb is to stay off of social media and be mindful of your time.

“Connect in real life with yourself or great company and be as present as you can with the day,” Cirbus says. “Ask yourself, what can you do that will have you feeling your best at the end of this day.”

Read more: 5 life hacks for relieving anxiety

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How often should you take mental health days?

There’s no gold standard for the frequency of mental health days, Cirbus says. It all depends on the individual’s circumstances and stress tolerance, and it can vary based on personal challenges that coincide with the intensity of your workload.

Some months, you may not feel the need for a mental health day, whereas other months you may need more than one. “On average, it can be good to schedule at least one to two mental health days a quarter,” Cirbus says. “Scheduled days off create a routine of dedicated time to good self care which helps maintain stability and sustainability over time.”

The same is true for children, teens and young adults, Cappana-Hodge says. If a student is more prone to stress or irritation, they would benefit from more frequent mental health days, or mental health breaks that are longer in duration. For instance, taking two days off, or positioning a mental health day on Friday so that it extends through the weekend, would benefit those who need extra time to reset.

You should make an effort to take a full mental health day if you feel like you need one, but if that doesn’t feel manageable, you can help yourself reset by engaging in breaks throughout the day.

“In an ideal world, everyone should take time everyday to manage stress, so the nervous system can regulate on its own,” Cappana-Hodge says. “Even as little of 10 minutes of mediation or some other quiet activity helps to regulate the nervous system, increase focus, and build calm within the brain and body.”

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Your Guilt-Free Guide to Taking a Mental Health Day

You shouldn’t feel bad taking a personal day because of stress or anxiety. If you’re not coughing up mucus, in bed with a fever, or so bogged down by cramps that you can’t uncurl from a ball, you probably feel guilty calling out of work. (Even though sick days at work are notoriously abused.) But the more acceptable it becomes to admit that a lot of us suffer from depression, anxiety, and unbearable stress, the more acceptable it becomes to justify mental health days.

In fact, it’s not just justifiable, it’s essential for our health and wellbeing, says Kathy Caprino, a women’s career coach and work-life expert. “I believe that part of the widespread malaise of corporate America is that so many people feel and believe they don’t have any control over their lives and time, and they’re exhausted to the point of non-functioning. To live a healthy, productive life, it’s critical to take control and manage your time in and out of work in an empowered way.” (How Much Health Information Should You Really Reveal at Work?)

And even though you don’t have physical symptoms, your body will often tell you in other ways that it needs a break-but because these signs come in the form of stress and anxiety, we too often just ignore them until full-out sickness occurs, Caprino adds.

When You Should Take a Day Off

Giving yourself a free pass because you’re stressed can open Pandora’s box-most of us are at our wit’s end from work on a daily basis. Save your mental health day for when the strain is really beginning to show. When you haven’t been able to concentrate, think clearly, or manage your emotions effectively (like biting your husband’s head off for leaving the toilet seat up, say), it’s probably time to use that free pass, Caprino says. The opposite is true as well: “Feelings of extreme apathy-like you just don’t care-or extreme anxiety about nothing in particular are cues that could indicate you would be better off taking a day to reset,” says leadership and workplace communication expert Brandon Smith, who runs The Workplace Therapist.

But be conscious of what’s going on at work. “If you’re in the middle of a critical, time-sensitive project or a period where you’re absolutely needed at work, that’s obviously not the best time for you to take a day,” Caprino says. Choose a time where your absence won’t be disastrous to your team. (9 Smart Career Tips for a Bright, Successful Future.)

What to Tell Your Boss

Each expert ascribes to a different school of thought. “Needing a day because you are physically and mentally off is valid, and you shouldn’t have to lie or fake it,” Caprino says. “Call in and share openly with your boss that you’re not well enough to come in.” But present it in a way that won’t be contested or argued with-if you feel ashamed of taking the day for yourself, it will be communicated in your voice and language, she adds.

Smith, on the other hand, defers to more ambiguity. “While there may be many merits of taking a mental health day, it is still not socially accepted to announce that is what you are doing,” he states. And he has a point. In fact, nearly seven in 10 bosses believe stress, anxiety, or depression are not valid excuses for taking time off work (even though 25 percent have suffered from mental illness themselves!), reports a recent survey carried out by British healthcare company AXA PPP.

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If you know your boss won’t understand, your go-to is probably faking an illness, but lies lead to complicated webs, especially at work. Instead, email that you’re taking a day for “personal reasons,” which is typically an acceptable practice in most American workplaces, Smith adds. (See 8 Email Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making.) However, be aware that if you use this reason more than three times in a year, your boss may ask for more specifics or start to view you as unreliable, Smith warns.

How It Can Help

Taking a mental health day lets you recharge, resets your perspective, and allows your body and mind to rest. However, the most important way you should look at a day out of the office is as a risk management strategy for your career and life, says Smith. “If you don’t attend to your stress, anxiety, or depression, it can affect your work performance and composure in the workplace-which could result in a layoff-and even cause physical ailments, which can obviously damage your career and life,” he adds.

When we’re worn out, we can lose our patience and perspective, which can lead to poor performance and poor communication-nothing your boss rates high on the list of employee attributes, Caprino adds.

How You Should Spend Your Day

As much as you may want to, try not to spend the day vegging out and catching up on all the shows you never have time to watch from working such long hours. (Why not? Because this is Your Brain On: Binge Watching TV.) “A mental health day should be designed to give your mind, body, and spirit just what it’s craving most-which is different for every person,” says Caprino. Smith recommends a combination of depression and anxiety reducing activities, like spending time with a friend or family member, laughing, squeezing in an outdoor workout, and even scoring some sleep if you’ve been skimping lately. Both experts agree you should avoid unhealthy activities that will deplete your mind and body further, including isolating yourself or drinking all day (we know, those mimosas are tempting!).

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A Sign There’s Something Else Going On

“It would be unfair and unrealistic to expect all symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, or anger to go away in just 24 hours, but after a well-used mental health day, you should feel 30 to 50 percent better,” says Smith. The challenges that seemed too beleaguering yesterday should feel easier to deal with, Caprino adds. If you don’t feel any change despite putting your free day to good use, it’s probably a sign of a bigger problem. Same goes for if you find yourself getting addicted to the days off, constantly wanting to call in sick after you give yourself a mental health day. If this is the case, turn to outside help, Caprino says. A therapist or career/life coach can help you reexamine your career and life to see if there is a deeper issue at play here. But don’t ignore the feeling-Burnout Should be Taken Seriously.

  • By Rachael Schultz @_RSchultz

The day I called in depressed

Feb 20, 2018

Guest Author: Mitch

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

I don’t know why but, even as a person who deals with anxiety and depression on a daily basis, I always felt there was something deceiving about taking “a mental health day” from work. Like it was code for an extra vacation day or something where your boss couldn’t call you out for faking sick.

As a result, many a times I have called (emailed) in sick to work with general stomach pain or just that I wasn’t feeling well when the truth was I needed a mental health day to sort through my shit. I always felt bad about it, needing an hour or so to get over the idea I might have bamboozled my workplace into a day off before realizing that I do need that day off.

But today, something snapped.

Today wasn’t going to be a good one

I just finished working three nights in a row, with another four right ahead of me. Having fought through the thoughts that made me want to stay in bed all day to get to work for those shifts, and then miserably revisiting them as I walked home eight hours later, I woke up with a pretty clear feeling in my gut – today wasn’t going to be a good one.

After attempting to shake it off and convince myself that going in to work could make me feel better (it wouldn’t), I decided that I was going to have to call in sick, but this time, I wasn’t going to hide why.

Maybe it was because #BellLetsTalk day is coming up and “ending the stigma” gets a little more love in the media this time of year, or that I was just sick of pretending that it wasn’t a legitimate reason for a day off, but I didn’t hide it – I said I was too depressed to work.

Hey guys,
I’ll be straight with you. I’ve been fighting through a bad depression bout to come to work the last few days and I’m just too mentally and physically exhausted to do it again for my shift tonight and still be productive in the slightest…
Sorry for the late notice. I was trying to shake it off all day before I came to the conclusion I needed a mental health day.

It felt good. Not so good that I wasn’t depressed anymore, but good to just say it out loud (or type it, I guess) and be honest in admitting as openly as I could that this is something that affects me all the time and sometimes I need to put a hold on other things because of it.

The stigma is still out there and this was uncharted waters for me.

Admittedly, I was a little bit worried about what the response to my honest email would be. I was pretty sure my supervisors would understand, but the stigma is still out there, and this was uncharted waters for me.

Thankfully, the response I got was even better than what I hoped for.

Don’t worry about the late notice here. We understand that feeling mentally unwell isn’t something you can just shake off and we don’t expect you to fight through it to be here today, tomorrow, or any day. Take tonight off and we can check in with you tomorrow. Hopefully you’ll feel better then, but we don’t need to set any firm timelines on your return to work at this moment.
Let us (and me specifically, if you prefer) know if there’s anything we can do to help.
I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow or the next day or any time after that. I just wanted to share this small win for the mental health community with you because 1) it makes me feel better to write and share my struggles with depression and anxiety, 2) you should know there’s nothing wrong with taking a mental health day, and 3) if you didn’t know what to say to your boss when calling in with depression, you can steal the template from my email.

Depression: How do you tell your boss you can’t work?

I went back to work last week. I had been off several weeks after a tough, two-week, out-of-town assignment that brought me to my knees on the edge of my black hole.

In all, I was gone five weeks – some pre-planned vacation and some comp time. Still, when you’re out of the office for that long, for any reason, people are going to wonder why you have been gone so long.

If you don’t have a mental illness – whether it’s depression or alcoholism or an anxiety disorder – you’ve probably never been confronted with these questions: How do you call in sick when your mental illness prevents you from work? What do you say when you go back to work after an extended absence because of your mental illness?

When you have to answer these questions, you realize how much stigma there is about mental illness.

If you had to take off a couple of weeks because you had pneumonia, you would simply tell your boss that you could not work because you had pneumonia. But what do you say when your depression prevents you from working? How do you call in sick with depression?

In my career I have had to take extended time off because of both pneumonia and depression. When I called in sick with pneumonia I never worried that my boss might think I was faking it or that my colleagues would think I was a wuss because I had pneumonia.

Eight years ago, when I was off work for 8-weeks because of my depression and ended up in treatment to deal with behaviors that contributed to my depression, I didn’t know what to say. Actually, I didn’t say much at all besides “I can’t work” because I couldn’t talk much at all. I texted my boss and spoke briefly with the head of HR.

I was fortunate to have boss who was very understanding and enlightened about mental illness. I had been with the company nearly 20 years and no one questioned my loyalty or work ethic. I was told to get better – however much time I needed.

I cannot tell you what a huge relief that was. If you are a boss, I hope you will consider how you would handle an extended absence by an employee with a mental illness. Ask yourself: Is there anything that I have done or said that would lead my employees to believe that I don’t consider mental illnesses legitimate illnesses? Do I belittle or judge people who cannot work because of depression? Do I consider them weak?

Trust me, if you can’t answer those questions, your employees with mental illnesses can. We listen to your off-handed comments about “happy pills” and quips about someone being “off their medication.” Those are NOT off-handed comments to us.

That is what we think about when we are trying to decide how to tell you that we cannot work because of our depression. That is what keeps us up at night. Raw anxiety. Few things are as unhealthy for someone in a major depression as anxiety and a lack of sleep. Trust me.

That anxiety plagues us as we recover and return to work. What will my boss think of me? What do I tell my co-workers? Privacy laws prevent bosses from divulging your illness to your co-workers. Often they are clueless and left to speculate and gossip about our absence.

More anxiety and stress.

I am one of the lucky ones. I work in an office where mental illness is accepted as a legitimate illness and disability. Depression is the number one workplace disability and costs employers billions of dollars each year in lost productivity.

A wise boss will embrace these facts and realize that an employee who is both physically and mentally healthy is a better, more productive worker. My bosses “get” this. I was greeted with smiles, hugs and “glad your back.” No big deal. No questions.

I was back and glad to be back.

Overwhemed worker image available from .

Depression: How do you tell your boss you can’t work?

When to Take a Mental Health Day, According to a Psychologist

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We all feel mentally overwhelmed sometimes—with depressed or anxious thoughts, for example, or crazy stress from a personal or family drama.

But when it happens the night before or morning of a workday, you have to decide if a taking a mental health or personal day off from your job is called for.

So how do you know if you need a mental health day, or if your situation requires more serious attention? And what’s the best way to spend your day once you do take it? We asked Health’s resident psych pro Gail Saltz, MD, to weigh in.

When to take the day off

It comes down to what’s causing it. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, skipping a day of work may not always be helpful, says Dr. Saltz. “One of the most common defenses against anxiety is avoidance,” she explains. “But avoidance—like staying home from work—is often what you don’t want to do, since it’s essentially positive reinforcement. It might help you feel better in the short run, but it makes it that much harder to go back.”

On the other hand, if you’re struggling with a sudden traumatic crisis or something that’s overwhelming you right now, a mental health day might be the perfect break for you to get a handle on things.

RELATED: 12 Ways We Sabotage Our Mental Health

What to do to help you cope

It’s tempting to make your mental health day one long Netflix binge, but using the time wisely is critical. Try to ID the reason you’re feeling off, then make a point to address it. For example, if you’ve only been getting three hours of sleep every night and you’re a mess because of it, use the time to help yourself recuperate. Attending a restorative yoga class, taking a nap, and spending downtime away from screens are all good ideas.

If you’re dealing with a medical issue and haven’t had the time to see a doctor, schedule that much-needed appointment for your mental health day. “These kinds of things may only require a day to do and will make you feel healthier overall, so they’re good reasons to take time off,” says Dr. Saltz.

How to stay mentally healthy

Even the most ambitious and productive among us need time away from work. “If you’re working seven days a week and not getting vacation time, you’re placing yourself in a system that’s neither sustainable nor mentally healthy,” says Dr. Saltz.

For those who feel like they really can’t take a day off, there are simple ways to practice self-care and still make it to that staff meeting. First off, get sweaty. Regular exercise has been shown to decrease anxiety and improve mood. “Even if it means carving out 30 minutes to hop on a treadmill at lunchtime, exercising a couple times a week can make a difference,” notes Dr. Saltz.

RELATED: 25 Scientifically-Proven Ways to be a Happier Person

Practicing mindful meditation has also been shown to improve focus and help people handle stress better. Spend 15 minutes meditating—even if it’s at your desk—before your day begins.

Maintaining habits like working out and meditating that reduce stress and anxiety and boost happiness is key. “Otherwise we’re just letting things build and build and build, hoping that one day we’ll correct them,” warns Dr. Saltz.

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When you need more than a day to deal

“If you feel like you need a day away because your anxiety or stress has built up so much that it’s impairing your ability to function overall, staying in bed for a day is unlikely to fix it,” says Dr. Saltz. In fact, it will probably exacerbate your condition.

Unlike a temporary stressor that may be resolved in a day, ongoing issues can take time and require professional help to address. If you consistently want to stay home on account of how you feel, Dr. Saltz advises seeing a therapist who can help you understand what the cause is and will help you develop coping skills that don’t involve playing hooky from work.

There are days…OMG, there are days. I know you’ve had them: work is stressful, your personal life feels out of control, you’re tired, you’re anxious, you’re overwhelmed. On these kinds of days, you might feel like you need a self-imposed, semi-spontaneous break from the world—and experts say it’s OK to go for it.

As counterproductive as it seems to deal with your way-too-much-to-do list by not doing anything on it, sometimes you simply need some time to recharge. If you don’t cut yourself a break, too much stress can mean that you fizzle out—and you won’t be creative or productive in that state. Right?

The only problem? Well, we all have real responsibilities that can make it feel impossible to actually take a non-sick “sick” day. And the guilt—there can be so much guilt! So here’s a quiz that Brandon M. Smith of the Workplace Therapist suggests you take whenever you think you might need to take a mental health day. See if you answer “uh, yeah!” to any of these statements:

  1. You’re suddenly not sleeping well or can’t sleep because you’re worried about everything you have to do.

  2. You’re still thinking about stress from last week.

  3. You get snippy with your boyfriend, your spouse, your kids, or your coworkers.

  4. You feel apathetic and generally don’t care about your work.

Now here’s how to actually take that day away!

Try to plan your mental health day for a Friday, and ask for it off a week in advance. Suddenly calling in sick can leave others in the lurch, and you don’t want to put your job in jeopardy. And sometimes, one day isn’t enough—so having the weekend can help de-stress you even more.

__Don’t tell your boss you’re taking a mental health day.__She might think that she’s stressing you out, or even feel upset that you’re tending to yourself while there’s work to be done. Instead, say you have important personal matters to attend to. Hey, it’s the truth! Avoid saying you’re sick, because then you’ll have to make up something about how you’re feeling the next day—who wants to get stuck in that web of lies? Plus, your boss may assume that your “sick day” means you’re interviewing for another job or something.

Spend your day wisely. Probably not a good idea to tweet or Facebook about it—and, really, you shouldn’t want to. Do things that make you happy: listen to music, read a book, take a much-needed nap, go for a long walk. If you must do some work, fine—but put limits on it, like only checking your email every 45 minutes (not every 45 seconds), and turning off your phone for a few hours. But it’s OK to tackle your to-do list too, as long as you think doing so will make you feel better the next day.

__Remember, you’re not the only one who needs the occasional mental health day.__This will help defray any lingering guilt: One study found that 82 percent of employees admit to taking mental health days.

OK, so when’s the last time you took a mental health day? And how do you know when you need one?

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Photo: Thinkstock

Your Complete Guide to Mental Health Days

Picture this: You’re frustrated, stressed, anxious—or, a combination of the three. You take a look at your calendar, and realize it’s been jam-packed for the past few weeks.

“I wish I could just take a break to regroup,” you mutter to yourself at your desk or in the middle of your shift.

But then, all the questions flood your mind: How do I even ask for a mental health break? Will my manager let me? What if it makes me look lazy? And, even if they do say I can take a break, what do I do with that time? How do I actually care for my mental health?

If this scenario feels familiar, you’re not alone: In a recent Shine survey of 1,774 people, 95% of people said a mental health day would improve their performance at work—but only 28% of people said they feel comfortable requesting a mental health day at work.

95% of people said a mental health day would improve their performance at work—but only 28% said they feel comfortable requesting it.

It’s a huge gap, but one that we can fix.

What people need to feel empowered to take care of themselves: The number one request, according to our survey, was support from employers encouraging mental health breaks.

That’s why on May 15, 2019, we launched the first-ever National Mental Health Break. Leaders at 70+ companies across the U.S. (including Lyft, Dropbox, Rent the Runway, and Giphy, to name a few) encouraged their employees to take a mental health break at 3 p.m.—whether that meant heading out early for the rest of the day or stepping away from the pressures of work for 15 minutes.

These companies challenged the notion that you can’t be ambitious and take care of yourself—you can do both, and it’s crucial to do both. It’s a lesson our founders learned firsthand while building Shine, too, and it’s become a core value of our company we call Go Big and Go Home.

And the nationwide break was just the beginning. Every day is an opportunity to prioritize your mental wellbeing, but we get that it can feel confusing. Our survey showed people also want resources to help them know when they need a mental health break and what to do when they decide to take one.

So, let’s make it less complicated. Let’s break the spiral of silence around mental health in the workplace and talk about how to take a mental health break.

Here, we’ll walk you through it all. Read through and bookmark this resource for the next time those “Maybe I need a break?” thoughts pop up in your head—we’ll help you answer them.

Your Guide

●︎ What is a mental health break?

●︎ How do I know if I need one?

●︎ What if I feel nervous asking for it?

●︎ How do I ask for it?

●︎ What do I do during it?

●︎ How do I know if I need more support?

●︎ How can I help other people?

What is a mental health break?

Ultimately, it’s exactly what it sounds like: taking the time away from your work to take care of you. For some, it might mean taking 15 minutes to reset in the middle of a work day. For others, it may mean taking an entire day off once a quarter to recharge and better tackle the upcoming weeks.

Whatever it may look like to you, the impact is pretty powerful. “When people take a mental health day when they need it, they can recharge and they can come back to work feeling refreshed,” Patricia Thompson, Ph.D., a corporate psychologist and management consultant, tells Shine. “And then when they’re feeling good, they’re more engaged with the work that they’re doing and the business is only going to benefit.”

‘When people take a mental health day when they need it, they can recharge and they can come back to work feeling refreshed.’- Patricia Thompson, Ph.D.

How do I know if I need one?

Despite how normal it may feel in our #hustleculture, burnout isn’t healthy. It takes a mental toll and can lead to symptoms that overlap with many mental illnesses. Plus: It’s not sustainable.

It’s crucial to take note of signs of burnout, and the earlier the better. That way, you can take action before you’re in full-blown burnout mode.

“Burnout starts relatively subtly,” Anna Rowley, Ph.D., a psychologist and millennial wellbeing expert, tells Shine. “If you see a fire that’s raging, it’s started somewhere with a small ember, and that’s a bit like burnout.”

Burnout can show up in your life in different ways. “Some people become emotionally and physically depleted—they literally are just exhausted,” Rowley explains. “Some other people feel like, ‘No matter what I do, I’m not getting any personal accomplishment from my job, it’s just a treadmill.’”

According to the Mayo Clinic, other signs of burnout also include:

●︎ Cynicism or critical nature towards your job

●︎ Decreased energy and productivity

●︎ Irritable nature and resentment

●︎ Decreased performance

Take note of the signs of burnout, and start paying attention to your stress and thinking patterns.

I think I need to take one, but I feel nervous asking for it.

Give yourself a pat on the back—because recognizing you need a mental health break is the first step.

It can be scary to ask your employer for time off, especially since paid vacation and sick days are rare, but in the words of Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D., a psychologist and founder of Therapy for Black Girls, “sometimes taking a step back is what’s going to help you really propel forward.”

By prioritizing your wellbeing, you’re able to show up and create a bigger impact for those on your team and those in your life outside of work.

‘Sometimes taking a step back is what’s going to help you really propel forward.’- Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D.

But you’re not alone if you feel guilty, anxious, and scared to bring it up. The majority of Shine members said they don’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health at work.

One of their main reasons why: Fear of seeming “weak” or “lazy.” But experts say that mental health breaks are actually good for a company, and it will only make you a stronger employee.

“It’s socially acceptable to take a day or two days off for a sick day, but it’s less societally approved to take a day off when you think psychologically or emotionally you’re feeling under the weather or under a lot of pressure or a lot of anxiety,” Rowley says. “Yet there’s no difference.”

It can be easy to talk yourself out of it, but if a “Do I actually need this?” moment pops in your head, take a moment to list some stress points that you’ve been facing lately.

Sometimes, putting things on paper and reflecting on what time away will allow you to bring to those obstacles—more energy, a fresh perspective, renewed hope—can motivate you to actually create space away from them. Also: It can empower you to advocate for your needs.

For people of color or folks in marginalized groups, there can be extra pressure at play and it can be uncomfortable to advocate for yourself with that in mind.

“For black women, a lot of times they are already feeling silenced in the workplace,” Bradford says. “Sometimes black women are even hesitant to take sick days when they’re physically ill—so a mental health day is definitely not something they’re going to take.”

But while various barriers might prevent you from seeking a mental health break, remind yourself that you are worthy of the space and time to refuel.

“Give yourself permission to fully enjoy it without guilt, and recognize that you are deserving of self-care and that’s a good thing,” Thompson says.

It’s also helpful—and empowering—to know your rights as an employee.

It’s illegal in the U.S. to discriminate or harass someone because of a mental health condition. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that “if a reasonable accommodation would help you to do your job, your employer must give you one unless the accommodation involves significant difficulty or expense.”

You have rights when it comes to taking time off, too. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles employees to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious health conditions—but it does have a few stipulations based on the size of your company and how long you’ve been employed.

You can learn more about your rights under FMLA here and get support from the EEOC if you think your rights have been violated here. If your company has their own mental health policy (some do!), be sure to review that, too.

Ok, I’m ready to ask: What do I say?

Thompson suggests asking your boss or manager in person so you can better gauge their response and refine your ask for the next time you may need to take a mental health break.

But we get it—that can sometimes be scary. Reaching out via email or Slack also works, and Rowley says don’t feel like you have to go into a lot of detail. “Make it easy for the person you’re talking to to say yes,” she says. “It might be uncomfortable for both of you to talk about this.”

Use these templates as a framework to talk to your employer IRL, via Slack, or over email:

In Person:

Hey (insert name here)! I realized it’s been a while since I’ve taken time off for myself, so I was hoping to take time off on (date) and come back refreshed and ready to go.

Via Slack:

Hey (insert name here)—I haven’t been feeling 100% and was hoping to take some time off on (date). I would love time to recharge so I can come back to work more productive and focused!

Via Email:

Hello (insert name here), I’d love the opportunity to take some time off this week on (date). I haven’t been feeling 100% lately, and could definitely use this time to refuel and come back to work feeling ready to take things on.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best, (Your name)

If it feels difficult to ask, remember to be kind to yourself. It’s human for it to feel uncomfortable, and know it’ll get easier with practice.

“When you first advocate for yourself, it’s really hard and painful to feel vulnerable and exposed,” Rowley says. “But once you’ve done it, you’ll feel a sense of release and relief, and it’ll be so much easier to do the next time.”

‘When you first advocate for yourself, it’s really hard and painful to feel vulnerable and exposed. But once you’ve done it, you’ll feel a sense of release and relief, and it’ll be so much easier to do the next time.’- Anna Rowley, Ph.D.

I got the time for myself—but now what do I do?

If that question is top of mind for you, you’re not alone. When surveyed, 53% of Shine members said knowing how to take an effective mental health day would empower them to do it more.

Unlike sick days (which have the whole chicken-soup-in-bed thing going for them), there’s no social script for mental health days—we don’t typically see them played out in movies or TV shows.

Plus: Since we don’t talk about them openly, we don’t really swap tips at the water cooler about what’s effective or how to do it. “Hundreds of millions of people take mental health breaks, but we just don’t talk about it,” Rowley says.

With mental health breaks, Rowley says it’s key to think ahead and “prescribe” what will be restorative for you. “Plan for it, a bit like a holiday,” she says. “Just as you would go to the doctor to get a prescription, you can take a day where you’re prescribing: I need a warm bath, a good sleep, do yoga, read a good book, curl up and watch a good movie, and I’ll come back to work feeling whole.”

There’s no right way to take a mental health break, but Rowley says an effective break will engage a few different senses and involve activities that bring you joy. “A mental health day should be an opportunity to really treat the whole person and have a more holistic view of feeding and nourishing ourselves in different ways,” she says.

‘A mental health day should be an opportunity to really treat the whole person.’- Anna Rowley, Ph.D.

Even if you aren’t able to take a full day off and only have a few minutes each day, there are simple to take care of yourself. Savor that cup of coffee, go for a quick walk outside, or take an extra five minutes in the morning or evening to listen to a meditation in the Shine app (there’s even a free meditation to help you kickstart a mental health break!).

Here’s a flow chart to help you figure out what works best for you and your time:

How do I know when it’s more than a mental health day?

“You can tell you’ve had a good mental health break when you experience a feeling of relief,” Thompson says. But if that sense of relief is just out of reach, you might need more than a mental health break or day off. “You might need to seek professional help if you’re chronically experiencing symptoms,” she says.

‘You can tell you’ve had a good mental health break when you experience a feeling of relief.’- Patricia Thompson, Ph.D.

Reviewing symptoms from organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Health can help you pinpoint any feelings or patterns you notice yourself having. But ultimately, reaching out to a medical professional for insight can help you start crafting ways to deal with any mental health concerns you may have.

For some, that looks like therapy—and for others that might also include medication. There are nearly 50 million people in the United States who deal with mental illness. Just remember: Everyone may have their own journey, but you’re not alone.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). If you or someone you care about needs help, text 741741 to talk with a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line—it’s free, confidential, and available at all hours.

How do I help people around me prioritize their mental health, too?

The first step: Talk about it.

So often, it can feel like we’re the only ones in the world experiencing feelings of loneliness, anxiety, burnout, and more. There’s unfortunately a spiral of silence around mental health, even though 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. will experience a mental illness in a given year. You’re not alone.

It can feel scary to kickstart a conversation about mental health—and like a move that might seem weak. But it actually does the opposite. “When you see someone who seems like they’re perfect, it’s hard to relate to them,” Thompson says. “But when you can show you’re a well-rounded human with weaknesses and vulnerabilities, that opens the door for others to talk about that.”

If you take time to care for your mental health, the best thing you can do is share that with others. Maybe that means telling your friends when you take a mental health break. Just as you would talk about a sick day (“I took the day off because I had such a bad cold”), you can share why you took a day for yourself (“I took the day off because my stress hit a high”).

According to our survey, 33% of people would feel more comfortable taking a mental health day if they knew other people in their office took mental breaks, too.

According to our survey, 33% of people would feel more comfortable taking a mental health day if they knew other people in their office took mental breaks, too.

Or, maybe it means texting a friend to remind them to prioritize themselves today, maybe it’s sending this article to your group chat or favorite Facebook group.

By walking the walk, you’re also making it easier for people around you to realize that taking time can benefit us all.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, know that seeking help is a strength—not a weakness. If you or someone you care about needs help, text 741741 to talk with a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line—it’s free, confidential, and available at all hours.

Read next: Why Mental Health Breaks Are Good For Business

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How to Write a Sick Day Email

How to Write a Sick Day Email?

A sick day email is often required when an employee is feeling under the weather and is unable to come to work. The protocol is to call in sick, although sending an email is also an acceptable way to inform your managerDelegatingIn management delegating refers to sharing or transferring responsibilities. Delegating is a critical skill for supervisors at any level and can be a major challenge for them to learn due to concerns of giving up control or the lack of confidence in the abilities of others. or supervisor.

Companies implement different procedures on what employees need to do when they’re sick. Some employers may require you to send a sick day email at least two hours before your shift. If you will be on leave for more than three days, you may be asked to submit a doctor’s note. Make sure to follow company protocol that is usually included in the employee’s handbookFinancial Modeling Handbook.

What to Include in Your Sick Day Email

Make sure to keep your email short and straightforward. Here are several important details that should be included in your sick day email:

  • Reason for your absence
  • Number of days that you will be out of the office
  • Whether or not you will answer urgent emails and calls
  • Doctor’s note, if applicable
  • Name of the contact person who will handle your workload

When to Send your Sick Day Email

Work may be the last thing on your mind when you’re sick or during a medical emergency, but as an employee, it is your responsibility to inform your colleaguesNetworking and Building Relationships (Part 1)This article is part of a series of useful tips to help you find success in networking within your company. Networking plays an important part in our professional lives, starting from our job search, contiuing to joining and working in a company, and finally, advancing our careers. that you cannot make it to work, so they know where you are and can take over your tasks and still meet the deadlines.

Be courteous to your manager or supervisor, as well as your other colleagues who may be affected by your absence. Make sure to send a sick day email as soon as you find out that you’re not fit to work. Avoid sending it at the time when you should already be at the office.

A sick day email comes in different formats and there’s no standard way to do it, as long as you provide all the needed information and create it professionally. Here are various templates that can help you write a sick day email:

Sample Sick Day Email – Basic

Hi ,

I’m sending you this email to inform you that I can’t make it to work today, , because of . If something urgent comes up, I’ll be able to answer emails, but feel free to contact who will be in charge of my workload today to make sure that all deadlines are met.

Thank you for understanding,

Sample Sick Day Email with Paid Leave Request

You can refer to the template below if you know that you will be sick for at least a day based on a doctor’s instructions.

Hi ,

I won’t be able to report to work today because of and have . I went to the hospital and the doctor confirmed that I’ve got .

The doctor prescribed since I . If something urgent comes up, I’ll be able to answer emails, but feel free to contact who will be in charge of my workload for the time being to make sure that all deadlines are met.

Thank you for understanding,

Sample Sick Email Template for Indefinite Leave

You can refer to the following template if you’re not sure when you will be back at work.

Hi ,

I’m sending this email to inform you that I can’t come to the office today. I’ve been feeling under the weather since . I went to the hospital and the doctor said I’ve got . The prescribed medication will last for . The doctor asked me to stay home so I can completely recover.

Feel free to contact who will be in charge of my workload for the time being to make sure that all deadlines are met.

Thank you for understanding,

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  • How to End an EmailHow to End an EmailHow to end an email – list of best letter closings include: best regards, all the best, sincerely, thanks, cheers, & many more. This guide will teach you how to end an email with the best letter closings. With any email – especially a business email or other professionally-related communication
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How to Write a Professional Sick Day Email (With Examples)

You wake up feeling terrible and you realize you can’t report to work today.

Telling your boss that you can’t come to work is scary, even if your office has a lax policy on absences. You don’t want your boss to think you’re slacking off, but you also don’t want to divulge so much information that the conversation gets awkward.

When you can’t come to work you need to write a sick day email. (Image Source)

This tutorial covers everything you need to write a professional sick day email, plus easy-to-edit templates. You’ll also find tips for writing a sick day email for recurring or invisible illnesses.

1. Follow Company Protocol

Follow the protocol for absences in your employer’s handbook or go with your manager’s preferred communication method. For some people, this means you’re required to inform your manager at least two hours before your shift. Some companies may require you to call in sick instead of sending an email or text. You may also need to inform your colleagues and clients that you’re out of the office.

Some employers need a doctor’s note for leaves that will last longer than three days. But there are also strict companies where you need to submit a doctor’s note even if you’ll only be absent for one day. Ask your manager or check your employment contract if you’re not sure where your employer stands on doctor’s notes.

2. Do it Early

Email in sick or call ahead of time, as soon as you realize you can’t come in to work. Sudden illness and trips to the emergency room can put work out of your mind. But it’s still your responsibility to call your manager as soon as you’re able. You don’t want to leave them clueless about your whereabouts.

3. What to Include in Your Sick Day Email

Keep your email clear and concise. Below is a list of what you need to include when you call or email in sick:

  1. Reason for your absence. Keep this part clear without going into too much detail. Write the specific illness and the main symptoms that prevent you from coming to the office. You don’t have to list everything.
  2. How long you’ll be absent from work. This is predictable for many illnesses, such as flu or a cold, where the worst is over in one or two days. If you’re not sure when you’ll be back, ask your doctor how long it might take you to recover.
  3. Address your availability to communicate. Inform your boss about whether you can answer questions via email. You may also include an emergency phone number in case they need to reach you. If you’re too sick to respond to emails, be honest and make it clear that you’ll be unreachable during your absence.
  4. Clarify whether you’ll work or not. This applies to telecommute, remote, or senior-level employees expected to continue working even while on leave. Your supervisor may allow you to telecommute if you’re contagious, but not too ill for a full bed rest.
  5. Doctor’s note and other documentation. Mention any doctor’s note, prescription, or medical certificate that you can provide to back up your request for a sick leave.
  6. Name your point person. Mention who will take over your current projects and meetings, so your manager will know who to approach for questions about your tasks. You can simply write, “Ben will take over my client meetings this afternoon, and he’s also up to date on my projects with Client X.”
  7. Professional Closing. End your sick day email with a simple closing and your name.

You can also email your team with an abridged version of this email that doesn’t include details of your ailment and doctor’s note.

Sick Day Email Sample for Your Team

Hi Team,

It’s also a good idea to set up an out-of-office email to keep everyone else you work with informed.

4. Sick Leave Email Templates

Here are different templates to show you how to email in sick, depending on your circumstances:

1. Simple Sick Day Email Sample

Use this template when you’ll only be absent for a day. It’s short and doesn’t include a lot of details because a one-day absence doesn’t need five paragraphs to explain.

“Hi (Manager’s Name),

I’m emailing to inform you that I can’t make it to work today, (Date), as I’ve come down with a (your illness). I’ll be available to answer emails if you need urgent help, but (Co-worker’s Name) will handle my workload today to ensure all deadlines are met.

Thank you for understanding,

(Your Name)”

The phrase “urgent help” is there to suggest that you won’t be checking and replying to emails the whole day. Think of it as a subtle way of saying that you need time to rest, but you also honor your obligations and will be available to step in if a situation arises that only you could fix. Remove the phrase “urgent help” if you plan to answer emails like you would on a normal day at the office.

2. Sick Day Email Sample with Request to Use Paid Leave

Use this template if you’ve got a doctor’s note and if you’ll be using your sick leave to cover the absence.

“Dear (Your Manager’s Name),

I won’t be able to report to work today because I’m under the weather and have a (symptoms you’re experiencing). I went to the emergency room last night and the doctor confirmed that I’ve got (doctor’s diagnosis).

The doctor prescribed (X days off from work) as I (need to rest, am contagious), so I asked (Co-worker’s Name) to take over my meeting with (Client’s Name) this afternoon. They’ll also handle my pending tasks while I’m away. I’ll be available via email for your urgent needs.

I’ve also attached the doctor’s note to this email. I’d appreciate it if you would forward this email with the attachment to HR so they can process my sick leave. Thank you for your help.


(Your Name)”

Remove the phrase about going to the emergency room if you didn’t, or just switch it to “visited the doctor” if you went to the doctor after coming home from work.

Note that U.S. Federal law doesn’t require companies to offer a paid sick leave according to the Department of Labor. Other countries may have their own labor laws regarding sick leave. Check your employment contract before using this template.

Human Resources (HR) isn’t always responsible for approving sick leaves. Sometimes your manager has the final say, so you may want to tweak that part of the template according to your employer’s policy.

3. Out Sick Email Template for Indefinite Leave

Use this template if you’re not sure when you can report back to work.

“Dear (Manager’s Name),

I’m writing this to let you know that I can’t come to the office today. I’ve been feeling (sick, light headed, etc.) since (last night, yesterday, etc.), and only saw a doctor yesterday.

They diagnosed me with (your illness) and prescribed medication that will last for (X days). I feel a bit better now that the first dose of medication has taken effect, but I was advised to stay home because it will take time for me to fully recover.

I’ll do my best to inform you if I can’t make it to work tomorrow, so that we can make some temporary arrangements for my workload. In the meantime, (Colleague’s Name) has agreed to look after my tasks for the day.”

For more general information on how to write professional emails, refer to the following tutorial:

  • Writing How to Write Clear and Professional Emails David Masters

5. Arrange for Someone to Cover You

Have you noticed that all the email samples above include a hand-off of your tasks to a trusted colleague? You should already have a predetermined arrangement with that colleague way before you need to be absent, so you can just call on that favor when you need it.

Your colleague’s lack of consideration isn’t the only reason for a predetermined arrangement. Your colleague needs to know how to do your work, where to look for certain files in your computer, and who your contacts are with clients or vendors. Otherwise they’ll look clueless while filling in for you.

You don’t need to prepare a textbook’s worth of information about your job. Just compile some notes on your tasks, such as:

  • reports you write and when they’re due, so your colleague can do them in case your sick leave coincides with a deadline
  • contacts at other departments and companies you work with, including their names, emails and job titles
  • running list of pending projects and the people involved in each one
  • instructions on how to handle tasks only you can do, so that someone else can do it if you’re too ill to work from home
  • relevant sources, such as websites, books, or people

6. Set Up an Out-of-Office Message

If you haven’t done it already, set up an out-of-office message to inform people that you’re not at work and are unable to answer emails. You only need to activate this message if you called in sick and also informed your boss that you won’t be able to answer emails at home.

This isn’t like the sick day email you wrote for your boss and co-workers though. You’re not required to inform people outside your team about your illness, much less your symptoms. They probably also don’t want to hear the details.

Below is a simple out-of-office message you can set-up on your Gmail, Outlook, or other email provider.


I’ll be out of the office from (start date) until (end date).

Please contact (Name) at (email address) or (phone number) for your urgent concerns. Otherwise, I’ll attend to your emails upon my return. Thank you.”

7. Special Cases: Sick Day Emails for Recurring & Invisible Illnesses

A few years ago, I called the workforce hotline to call in sick, a standard procedure for my job back then. After explaining why I couldn’t make it to work, the person on the other line berated me because this was the third time in six months that I called in sick for the same reason. My reason was an invisible illness–one of the many ailments where the person seems fine unless you see all the prescription medicines they’re taking.

Lots of invisible and recurring illnesses exist, some of which are manageable enough it’s possible to have a job. Based on my research, it looks like I’m not the only one who feels guilty and scared of awkward conversations when calling in sick. This section is for people looking for advice on how to handle this situation at work.

Julia Esteve Boyd, an Etiquette Consultant with an international background in corporate etiquette, says,

“Recurring illnesses are problematic, but most employers are understanding when they know all the important facts.”

Disclosing your recurring or invisible illness at work may trigger further scrutiny from your boss or HR. That’s why it’s in your best interest to research your employer’s policies regarding absences before you broach this topic. If there’s nothing in your contract or employee manual about recurring absences, ask your coworkers if they know someone with a similar situation within the company. Then talk to that person to see how they handled previous sick leave requests, and how their boss and HR handled it. Their experience will give you a clue on what you can expect.

Eva Doyle, a manager with more than 20 years of experience, advises employees with recurring illness to talk to their manager about their condition before they need to take a sick day. She continues,

“Come prepared to discuss your plan to manage your condition and its effect on your work.”

Doing this allows you to collaborate with your boss in creating a contingency plan for your tasks, while minimizing bad surprises, like if you email in sick multiple times in one month.

As for possible awkward conversations regarding your illness and symptoms, Boyd and Doyle both agree that you only disclose the important details of your condition. You can disclose what your illness is and a general explanation of how it prevents you from working, such as migraine, pain, or fever. Leave out the finer details about what you’re going through. Your boss will be happier not knowing about them.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees of covered U.S. based employers up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave for specific medical conditions, which they can use for themselves or a member of their immediate family. Check if your employer is covered by the FMLA act, so you can use this benefit if you need a sick leave even if your boss is reluctant to give you one.

Wrapping It Up: Email in Sick the Right Way

You many not remember everything on this tutorial when the time comes that you need to email in sick. That’s okay. If you think you might need this information, bookmark this article so you can refer to it later.

One thing you should remember though is to follow your company’s sick day policy. Following instructions ensures your sick day doesn’t earn you a scolding the next day you report to work.

Discover great email signature templates on Envato Elements or GraphicRiver.

How to Appropriately Call Out of Work

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Whether you’re working full or part-time, there will likely be occasions when you need to miss work. Most employers understand that you may need to call out of work or leave early for a variety of reasons such as addressing personal matters, medical issues, family-related emergencies and taking care of your home. While missing work occasionally is often expected, there are certain ways you can call out respectfully, reducing the impact on your work, supervisor and colleagues.

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What are some reasons for calling out of work?

Requests to miss work typically fall into one of these categories:

  • Medical: It’s usually a good idea to call out of work for illnesses such as fever, flu or upset stomach. Employers want to keep their other employees well, so calling out of work for these reasons can actually benefit your company in addition to helping you recover. Other acceptable medical reasons for calling out of work include injury or a doctor’s appointment.

  • Emergency: Some urgent, non-medical reasons to call out of work may include an emergency home repair, like a flood or fire, or a death in the family.

  • Personal: If your employer offers you personal days to use throughout the year, you can usually take them without having to give a specific reason. You may be able to use personal days to complete an important task or simply rest at home.

No matter your reason, you should make yourself aware of your company’s time-off policy. If you’re unsure, consider meeting with your company’s HR representative for more information.

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How to call out of work appropriately

If you need to contact your employer to call out of work, you might find it helpful to use the following steps:

  1. Pick the best method of contact
  2. Be prompt
  3. Keep it brief
  4. Offer solutions
  5. Get ready to return

1. Pick the best method of contact.

When calling out of work, it’s important to contact your employer in the way they are most likely to quickly receive it. For instance, if you work in a restaurant where managers don’t have quick access to email, a phone call is probably best. However, if you work in an office and your boss is away for the week, it might be more effective to email or text. Most importantly, if your company has a specific policy about calling out of work, make sure to follow it.

Related: How to Write a Professional Email

2. Be prompt.

If you call out of work, letting your supervisor know about your absence as soon as possible allows them to plan to have your work covered if necessary. For example, if you know your cold is going to keep you out of work, let your employer know the night before instead of waiting until the morning. If your child has a school holiday coming up, you can ask to take that day as a personal day one or two weeks before. If you don’t know until the same day you won’t be coming in, make contact as soon as you can, preferably early in the morning.

3. Keep it brief.

It’s usually best to give your employer only the most basic details of why you need to miss work. Be sure to express an interest in getting back to work soon, and offer a means of assisting those who will be impacted by your absence.

4. Offer solutions.

Sometimes the work you would miss by taking a sick day or personal day needs to be completed in your absence—especially if you work in shifts. To make sure your responsibilities are taken care of, consider asking a colleague to fill in for you. For instance, if you work for a package delivery service, ask someone else on your team to cover your route. If you’re staying home for a non-emergency reason and are able to do your work from a computer, you could also ask your employer if you can work from home.

Setting an automated out-of-office email response can also let your clients, coworkers and other associates know what to expect from your absence and how to contact you while you’re out, if possible.

Here’s an example of an out-of-office auto-reply:


Thank you for contacting me. I’m out of the office today, so please expect a delay in my reply. If your message requires immediate attention, please contact my colleague Yolanda Perez at [email protected]

I will be back in the office with regular hours on Friday, May 15th.

All the best,
Kelly Washington

Related: Tips to Demonstrate Work Ethic

5. Get ready to return.

While you’re out and if you’re able to, stay in contact with your team so you have the information you need to get back to work quickly. If you miss an important meeting with a client, for example, ask a coworker for the meeting notes. Being prepared for your return to work can minimize the impact that your absence has on your workplace. If you are dealing with a personal or family emergency or health issue, it is also equally important to step away from your work and take care of yourself.

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Examples for calling out of work

Here are some sample emails and phone scripts for calling out of work:

Example 1: Writing an email for a personal emergency

Dear Amanda,

I am writing to let you know I will be unable to come to work tomorrow. I had a small electrical fire in my kitchen and need to have a repair person and electrician come by in the afternoon. I might not have electricity until tomorrow, but you can reach me on my cell phone by text or email. I have asked Vincent to follow up on the sales leads I got last week. He will let me know the customers’ responses so I can prepare to call them if necessary when I return.

I will see you the day after tomorrow.


Lorraine Andrews

Example 2: Leaving a voicemail about an illness

Hi, this is Aisha calling for David. I’ve been up all night with a fever, so I won’t be able to work at the restaurant tomorrow. However, Tariq has agreed to cover for me and will be there at four. I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and plan to be back tomorrow if I’m well. I can be reached by text in the meantime.

Example 3: Emailing for a family emergency

Dear Meihui,

I am writing because I need to take some personal days off work to care for my wife who was in a car accident yesterday. I will need to stay in the hospital overnight and arrange a babysitter for our kids. I don’t know when I will be able to return to work, but I will keep you updated.

Best regards,

Chandler Levin

Example 4: Sending a text for a personal day

Hi Jessica,

I’m just letting you know I plan to take two of my personal days today and tomorrow so I can prioritize my mental health. I have edited the three blog posts you sent yesterday and will edit the final two this evening or in the morning. If you have any urgent requests, please let me know, and I will either get to them myself or arrange for someone to cover for me.

Let’s face it: Every Monday morning, we all wake up with at least a few sad feels as we mourn the end of another glorious work-free, sleep-filled weekend. Even if you LOVE your damn job (kudos), getting out of bed to become a real human again probably makes you consider bailing on your 9 to 5 in favor of quality time with your pillow (ahhh, true love).

But it isn’t so easy to just…not go. You need that coin (and also maybe that mandated social interaction to break you out of hermit mode). Oh, and you also need a legit excuse so you don’t get fired for pretending it’s Saturday.

Obviously, there are very good reasons for not going in: you could be (actually) sick, which is usually the MVP of excuses. A family emergency, a doctor’s appointment, or even a mental health day are solid grounds for staying home, too.

But sometimes, you just want to sleep in, watch a cooking show that you swear you’re going to replicate, and do nothing. If that’s the case, you’ve just gotta work that brain, pick up the phone, and tell your boss, “Yeah, today isn’t looking good for me.” It just takes a faux tailbone injury, a bad day with pets, a broken engagement, or being stuck in a ditch to do the trick. Of course, being comfortable with little white lies (maybe not to a sociopathic degree) definitely helps.

If you’re stuck, here are 19 excuses our readers have used that didn’t cost them their paychecks. (Bosses, if you’re reading this, don’t come at me)

“I broke my tailbone.”

“The night before the final episode of Game of Thrones aired, I called in and told my manager that I fell in the bathroom and injured my coccyx (it’s your tailbone). My boss was so concerned, she let me stay home for three days. I had enough time to watch my show and emotionally process it before going back to work.” —Malavika, 22

“I just got a root canal.”

“I texted my boss that I had to have an emergency root canal the day before and wasn’t allowed to talk for two days! It worked!” —Pramita, 22

“I fell…”

“I trip over nothing three times a day at work, so my boss knows I’m very accident-prone. So my go-to is always telling my manager that I fell and need to recover at home. One time I said that I fainted outside a train station, another time I fell down the stairs while trying to rush. At this point, my boss is pretty used to it.” —Anwesha, 23

“I have to help my sister move dorms.”

“One weekend I was scheduled to work but my boyfriend wanted to come visit me for the weekend. I called my boss and told him that I had to help my little sister, who’s in college, move into a different dorm last-minute. He thought it was nice that I was helping her, so he gave me the weekend off.” —Yasasvi, 22


“I skipped my allergy pill and rubbed my face all over my dog.”

“Years ago, I had a job interview and wanted to take a sick day instead of a vacation day. The day before my interview, I skipped my allergy pill and rubbed my face all over my dog, knowing it would give me a terrible allergy attack. I spent all day at work pretending my allergy attack was an oncoming cold so no one would question my sick day!” —Mandy, 29

“I have hardcore bathroom issues.”

“I’m stuck in a ditch.”

“In Buffalo, we use the line, ‘I’m stuck in a ditch,’ and nobody ever questions it. There are lots of ditches for water runoff, lots of snow, and lots of ice on the roads. If you haven’t gotten stuck in a ditch, you’re probably a shut-in!” —Shayna, 21

“I have pink eye.”

“When I worked in retail and wanted an excuse not to go to work, I said I had pink eye. Nobody questions it, and it’s so gross and contagious that they’re like, ‘Ew, don’t even come in.’ Also, you don’t have to fake a sick voice or anything. You can sound fine and still have pink eye.” —Hannah, 25

“I have to take care of my ‘sick child.'”

“My old boss used to always say that he had to take care of his ‘sick child.’ But we found out he didn’t have any kids and he was always just talking about his dog, who he called his child!” —Ari, 29


“I’ve been up all night with a stomach bug!”

“Here’s what you gotta do: Write and schedule an e-mail to go to your manager in the middle of the night, like somewhere in the 2:30 to 5 a.m. window that says, ‘Hey, I’ve been up all night with a bad stomach bug. I’m hoping this resolves quickly but I might need to call in sick tomorrow.’ Then, send another e-mail before work that says, ‘I’m still not better, I’ll be out today.'” —Caitlin, 25

“My bathtub fell through my ceiling.”

“I decided to take a girls’ trip to Vegas for my BFF’s bachelorette party and told my boss that my bathtub fell through my ceiling and I would be out for three days because of the repairs. He totally bought it!” —Molly, 35

“My fiancé called off our engagement.”

“I wanted to help my little sister move into her college dorm her freshman year; however, it required me taking off a Friday and I had already used all of my vacation days. I called my boss the night before and told her that my fiancé and I called off our engagement and that I needed a day off. She felt so bad about it and told me to take as much time as I needed to mourn the loss of my relationship. I had to pretend three weeks later that we got back together and we were happily engaged again. My fiancé wasn’t too pleased about it!” —Karen, 30

Comedy Central

“My cat got stuck on the side of the bathtub.”

“One time I told my boss that I would be late to work because my cat got stuck in the side of the bathtub and I needed to wait for the fire department to get him out—this story really did happen, but a few days earlier.” —Leah, 20

“My little brother shat himself.”

“I canceled a lunch meeting with a client because my crush asked me to get coffee at the same time. I panicked and told my client and boss that my little brother shat himself at school and needed new clothes.” —Rachel, 21

“It’s my half-sister’s grandma’s birthday.”

“I wasn’t in the mood to go to work because it was such a beautiful day. So instead, I went to the Hamptons to start a long weekend and told my boss that it was my half-sister’s grandma’s birthday and that I would be out for the day.” —Ally, 27

Related Story

“My cat is having kittens!”

“I skipped work because my boyfriend surprised me with tickets to see Beyoncé and Jay Z one summer. I ended up telling my boss that my cat was having her kittens and I needed to be there for emotional support.” —Kayla, 21

“My sister is in emergency labor.”

“Once, I told my supervisor that my sister was going into emergency labor and I had to get to the hospital since I lived the closest to her. My boss let me take off two days to be with my family. I don’t even have a sister.” —Dylan, 26

“I stubbed my toe really badly.”

“I was already running super late to work and didn’t really feel like showing up. I decided to call up my boss and tell her that I stubbed my toe really badly and that it was swelling up. I’m a waitress so I have to be on my feet all day. I added that I didn’t want to risk dropping any plates on customers, which totally helped me get out of work.” —Anna, 19

“I called up my boss and told her my car got a flat tire.”

“My favorite store was having their annual summer sale, and the only time I would have been able to go was during work. I called up my boss and told her my car got a flat tire and that I was stuck on the side of a road waiting for AAA to show up. She offered to come pick me up from wherever I was, which made me feel even worse about my lie. Eventually she let it go and told me to take the day off.” —Amy, 21

Calling in Sick: 7 Good Reasons, 7 Lame Reasons

The Good and Lame Reasons to Take a Sick Day

With the unemployment rate hovering at 4.5 percent, “calling in sick” or taking unplanned time off has fallen out of fashion to such an extent that experts have invented a word to describe it — “presenteeism.” The phenomenon results in employees coming to work even when they shouldn’t.

That’s right — there are legitimate reasons to call off work. This article explores seven good reasons, and seven not-so-good reasons to miss work.

The rules below apply whether your company has combined paid time off (PTO), or separate sick, vacation, and personal days.

Valid reason 1: Contagious illness, such as the common cold or flu.

There’s no better reason to stay home than legitimate sickness, especially if it’s contagious. A sick employee is typically not a productive employee, and can spread germs to other workers.

Do yourself and your co-workers a favor, and stay at home until you feel better.

Lame Reason 1: You’re hungover after a night out

Your organization and co-workers shouldn’t have to pick up the slack for your good time.

Take a shower, have a strong cup of coffee, and suck it up. Next time, vow to make better decisions on work nights, for everyone’s sake.

Valid reason 2: You need a mental health day

If you are feeling burnt out, and need a day off to recharge your batteries, schedule a mental health day in advance so you don’t leave co-workers in the lurch.

Lame reason 2: Opening day of Major League Baseball

It can be hard justify missing an important personal event. Whether that be a sporting event, your fourth grader’s band concert, or something else, it’s hard not to let your work schedule interfere with your personal calendar.

If the event is that important, you should know well ahead of time when it’s occurring. Instead of leaving co-workers hanging, schedule a day off in advance.

Valid reason 3: Family issues, such as sick child

Most workplaces are tolerant of a certain number of family-related absences per year. Sick kids, lack of childcare, or a spouse with a sudden medical condition who needs support or help are all valid reasons to miss work.

Lame reason 3: Beach issues, such as you would rather be on one

And so would everyone else in the working world. But, unless you are a supermodel who has a shoot scheduled for Sports Illustrated’s upcoming swimsuit issue, your job is not to frolic in the sand. Instead of heeding the call of the ocean (or golf links, or tennis court), resolve to get to work early and be extra productive so you can cut out on time — or maybe even a little early — to enjoy a couple hours in the surf.

Valid reason 4: Severe weather

If the weather is severe enough to close roads, schools, and businesses, it’s okay to call in sick.

Most employers are concerned about the health and safety of their employees, and do not expect them to risk their lives to get to the office.

Lame reason 4: Mildly annoying weather

Smaller weather-related issues, like the unplowed driveway you haven’t gotten around to dealing with yet, or rainy-day malaise that’s more conducive to PJs than a power suit, are not good reasons for calling in sick!

Call the plow guy, attire yourself in something extra cheerful, and get yourself to work!

Valid reason 5: Loss of a family member or loved one

This has long been one of the most acceptable reasons for calling in sick. It goes without saying that you should never use this excuse if it isn’t true.

Lying about a death in the family is a particularly intolerable lie. Such lies cause coworkers and peers to forever question and wonder about your character and ethics.

Lame reason 5: You wish you could lose your boss

According to a poll done by the Conference Board research group, 49 percent of workers don’t like their managers, so you are in good company. Instead of focusing on your manager’s behavior, focus on your own.

Show up and do the best job you can. You’ll likely move up the ranks, and maybe he’ll be working for you someday.

Valid reason 6: Your toilet has exploded

Or your heating system is on the blink, or your well is dry.

Household emergencies happen, and it’s okay to miss work to take care of them, as long as you miss only the amount of time that’s needed to set things right.

Lame reason 6: Your workload has exploded

Staying at home with your head under the covers won’t make your work go away, and will only postpone your problems. Instead of letting your company and co-workers down, show up to work with your game face on, and commit to getting as much done as possible.

Ask for help from co-workers, stay late, or do whatever necessary to catch up. Once caught up, sit down and design a time management plan that ensures future work will get done on time.

Valid reason 7: You have a job interview

It’s okay to miss work for an opportunity that could have a positive impact on your career and future. If you are unable to schedule this in advance, be sure to keep your excuse simple — no long stories or creative tales.

Lame reason 7: Your job is boring

Instead of wallowing at home, take positive steps to change the direction of your life.

Volunteer for extra tasks at work, ask your boss for more responsibility, or increase your knowledge and skill set by taking classes.

Consider your reasons carefully

Calling in sick may not always be an easy choice—but sometimes it’s the right choice.

Before picking up the phone consider your reasons to call off work carefully. Determine the positive or negative impact of staying home on you, your co-workers, and your organization.

You Need a Healthy Salary

You might not be healthy, but your paycheck should be. So, whether you’re going for a new job or asking for a raise, can help.

The first thing you should do is research, so you’re able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what’s a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.

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