Ignoring Sick Day Guilt: Just Go Back to Bed!

Ignoring Sick Day Guilt: Just Go Back to Bed!

Monica’s note: Today’s guest post deals with how to overcome the ever so prevalent sick day guilt. 

Imagine you’ll wake up tomorrow with a scratchy throat and a pounding headache. You’ve been feeling the symptoms of something more ominous than “just allergies” for days now. Finally, the symptoms culminate into what could only be the good, old fashioned flu.

What do you do?

If you’re like most, you’ll buck up, turn off the alarm and get ready for work anyway. After all, your co-workers need you, right?

Wrong. You deserve to take a day off. And, believe it or not, the office will survive without you.

The next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather, consider these 4 thoughts. Then do just exactly what you should do: turn off the alarm, send an email to your supervisor, and go back to sleep.

The Office Will Go On

Think about the last time your co-worker called out or took a personal day. Did the office suddenly burst into flames, signaling the end of the company’s history of success? Of course not! You and your other colleagues pitched in, and his work got done. What didn’t get done was left for the next day.

There’s a good chance you weren’t even angry about it. People get ill – these things happen. Helping to share your colleagues’ load is just part of the team’s collective job description.

Well, they’re not going to be angry with you, either. Unless you’re the type to call out sick every time you get a headache, your coworkers will understand that each person in the office is only human. Humans get sick. Period.

Sick Day Guilt and the Superhero Syndrome

For some strange reason, most of us feel more guilty about taking an unscheduled sick day than a scheduled personal day. We feel less guilty about skipping work, paid, when we’re feeling well than we do skipping work when we’re legitimately ill.

Since we first entered the workforce, we’ve been bombarded with the notion that we “can do it all.” And somewhere along the line, most of us have embraced that notion.

But we can’t do it all. Our bodies are fallible, and we’re all susceptible to the occasional fever. Calling out sick doesn’t make you a weak person. It doesn’t mean you’re a “bad employee.” It means you’re a human.

Take the day, stop feeling guilty and get better.

Everyone Benefits When You Stay Home

When you go to work sick, you’re not at your best. There are actually studies which have been done that show the results of this. First, your company loses money. Some of that money spent is because of your decreased output. Additionally, reporting to work when you’re ill increases the likelihood of workplace accidents.

Furthermore, when you don’t call out from work, you’re infecting your colleagues. A University of Arizona study showed that just one sick person can infect over half of the surfaces in the workplace.

And, of course, calling out sick benefits you too. Yes, you’ll recover more quickly. But it’s been shown that employees who go to work sick are more likely to suffer from heart conditions later in life. Eek.

Do everyone a favor. Just stay home. Get better, then be at your most productive … tomorrow.

Self Employed? That Goes for You, Too

All this goes for you, too, self-employed people. Your income is directly correlated to the number of hours you put in. But, just as if you were in an office setting, your clients will understand.

It may be necessary to do the bare minimum. Make a few phone calls and reschedule a few appointments. Otherwise, take the day off.

Clients won’t want to meet with you if you’re breaking out in coughing fits. Customers don’t want to receive deliverables that are half-heartedly scraped together. And prospective customers can wait until tomorrow.

If you’re self-employed, you probably won’t risk infecting your coworkers. But your productivity will suffer, just as if you were in an office. And your business, as a result, might suffer as well.

Take the day to rest, then see how you feel tomorrow. Work can wait until then, and you’ll be more likely to work more productively when you go back.  


Shana Thompson is a freelance writer who works from her home in North Carolina. When she’s not writing content for small businesses, she can be found geocaching with her three kids in the Appalachians. Visit her sites www.shanathompson.com and www.STx3Content.com

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