In today’s busy world, many of us are scared to take sick days for a variety of reasons. We don’t want to look bad in front of the boss. We don’t want to lose a full day of productivity. And we certainly don’t want to have to come back the following day to a mountain of papers on our desk and hundreds of emails to sort through. But sometimes not taking a sick day can be more detrimental to yourself and your company than if you were to just spend the day in bed. You don’t want to be the reason your office looks like a scene out of The Walking Dead next week.
See Also: How to Enjoy a Sick Day!
1. You Have a Fever
If your body temperature is over 100°F, you should absolutely stay away from the office. Not only will you be miserable all day, but you’re also prone to other illnesses as well. A fever occurs when your body is trying to fight off an infection, so if you come into contact with a colleague who’s suffering from a manageable cold, you run the risk of catching that on top of whatever other illness you’ve been inflicted with. Just don’t try to do the old "thermometer in your coffee" trick to fake it; your boss won’t believe you have a fever of 128°F.
2. You're Vomiting
File this one under “Uh, duh.” If you can’t keep any food down, that’s an instant ticket home. Don’t try to convince yourself that you’ll be able to power through a stomach virus or food poisoning. It’ll hit you when you least suspect it, even when you think there’s nothing left to come up. Plus, nobody wants to be around you when you’re literally spilling your guts. The office isn’t a frat house; mature adults are actually bothered by people vomiting right next to them.
3. You're Contagious
Another no-brainer. If you’ve been to the doctor and have been told you have a contagious virus or infection, listen to him. You don’t want to carry a disease into the office that could end up spreading like wildfire. Even worse is the fact that, even if your colleagues are able to fight it off, they still might carry it home with them and infect their family members. There’s no better excuse for taking a sick day than a doctor telling you to stay home. Maybe even try to find a doc who says you should take the whole week off.
4. You're on Medication
If you’ve been prescribed medication that makes you drowsy or dizzy, don’t even think about getting behind the wheel and coming to work. You’ll not only be putting yourself in danger but also endangering every single person you come into contact with. Depending on your line of work, you could also be held legally responsible if you make a mistake while under the influence of medication. Even if you work a desk job, being drowsy will make you ineffective throughout the day. Since you won’t be able to get much done, you might as well just stay home. And don’t let those pink elephants in the corner convince you to check your email, either.
5. You Have a Migraine
I’ve known people who suffer from migraines that completely put them out of commission for at least a full day. When suffering from a pounding headache that isn’t the direct effect of your actions at happy hour last night, you have an excuse to stay home. Again, you’re most likely not going to be very effective at all throughout the day, which is a drain on company resources. Don’t waste your boss’ time or money by sticking around just so you don’t have to take a day off. Let him know you’ll make up the work the following day, and get the rest you need to come back ready to hit the ground running.
6. You Have No Appetite
If you’re starving but the thought of food makes you sick, you should begin anticipating the illness that unfortunately will be coming next. Again, don’t force yourself to go to work because you “feel fine.” Burning yourself out will only exacerbate the issues you’ll soon be facing. Stay home and try to at least get some chicken noodle soup in your system.
7. You Can't Stop Coughing/Sneezing/Wheezing/Sniffling
You might not be really all that sick, but even a slight cold can leave your body sounding like Ferris Bueller’s keyboard. Nobody wants to hear that. Not only is it absolutely disgusting, but it’s incredibly distracting, too. So your choices are to try to hold it in all day (which will prove to be practically impossible) or simply stay home and cough and wheeze to your heart’s content. Seems like a pretty obvious decision.
8. There's Severe Weather Forecasted
I don’t mean you should call out if you see some snow flurries, but if the weatherman is telling you to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary, you shouldn’t have any qualms about using a sick day to ensure your safety. Driving in awful weather is incredibly dangerous to yourself, your family, and anyone else out on the road (especially pedestrians). Furthermore, if you do decide to brave the storm and end up getting hurt, you’ll end up taking more than just one day off work. Stay home, and use the time off to ask your kids if they want to build a snowman. Just be prepared to hear that song from Frozen being sung off key for the rest of the day.
9. You're Going Through Family Issues
Once you have a family of your own, you’ll realize most of your sick days will be taken not for yourself but for your kids. You don’t want to send your little one to school if he’s not feeling great, and unless his grandparents happen to live close by, the only alternative is to stay home with him. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get any work done. Even if you’re technically excused from working for the day, keep up with emails and anything else you’ll need for the following day so you’re not completely swamped upon your return. Or don’t. Take the day to relax as much as you can in between visiting the pediatrician and cleaning up snotty tissues.
10. You're Facing a Household Emergency
If your house floods or catches fire, there’s no possible way you would be able to spend the day at work. With everything you’ll need to take care of during the aftermath of a disaster, you’ll have too much on your mind to put your all into your job. Even if it’s something fairly minor like an appointment with an electrician or plumber, if it’s something that will affect your daily needs, it’s worth taking a day off to deal with. The cable guy can wait until Saturday, though. Missing those reruns of Seinfeld doesn’t qualify as an emergency. Although it definitely should.
11. You Have a Job Interview
This might be a little sneaky, but if you have an opportunity to further your career and improve your overall life, you need to take it. You have to look out for number one. If you’re unhappy enough with your current position that you’ve been actively applying elsewhere, you should have no problem taking a day off that could end up changing the entire path of your life. Just remember to pretend you’re getting over strep the next day.
12. You NEED a Mental Health Day
Talk about sneaky! But seriously, though you would never call your boss and say “I need a mental health day,” sometimes you need to take a day to yourself to avoid burnout. There’s something about having a Wednesday all to yourself that makes it just that much better than the weekend. If you decide to bang in to clear your head, make sure you don’t spend a single minute doing any sort of work. Use this time to recharge your batteries and prepare yourself for the workload ahead of you. And make sure you don’t get your picture taken at the Yankee game you end up going to or anything.
So many people today work too hard every day of their lives to the point that they neglect their own wellbeing in favor of keeping the wheels spinning. Don’t worry about taking a day off if you absolutely need it. Your work will be waiting for you the minute you come back (no matter how hard you wish someone else would have just taken care of it).