Yes, I want you to be a rebel and take a fake sick day.
Here’s why: I believe deeply in preventative wellness. If you’re feeling run down, absolutely fatigued, stressed out and only getting through the work day thanks to chocolate, sugar and four cups of coffee . . . you need a day off.
Otherwise, you WILL get sick and that will knock you and your productivity out for longer than just one day.
Sure, vacation days are great, but they’re precious, and if you’re like me, you carefully dole them out for strategic three-day weekend trips and a couple longer vacations each year.
I never thought it was fair that I took such good care of myself that I only had to take two real sick days during my last six years working in finance. Usually, I’d come into the office and tough it out, even if I was exhausted.
Our human resources portal allocated eight to nine sick days to each person, but of course, you were only supposed to take them if you were genuinely sick. I always thought, why do sick people get sick days? What about the people who are adamant about trying to stay healthy in the first place?
My last year, I thought of a plan: I’d take a fake sick day. For the record — and for my former bosses & HR Department that may be reading this! — I only did this twice, but it was 100% worth it both times.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Pick the day in advance: Make sure you don’t have to reschedule important meetings or hit uber important deadlines.
2. Fake a migraine or a head cold or touch of the flu and send an email around 8 a.m. saying you won’t be able to make it in to work.
3. Don’t tell anyone. Revel in playing hooky for the day and keeping it your little secret.
4. Go back to sleep if you need it. Hang out in your pajamas. Putter around your apartment, hit up the gym for that 11 a.m. yoga class you never get to go to, take a nap or get groceries delivered at 2 p.m.
5. Write in your journal or watch an inspiring documentary.
6. Go get a massage around the corner at that local place.
7. Order healthy-ish takeout and watch a movie.
8. Go to bed early-ish and get ready to wake up recharged and ready to rock.
No one is going to really get in touch with you all day! All your friends think you’re at work. Your colleagues will ease up on their demands and you’ll be able to handle everything tomorrow anyways. It’s absolutely freaking glorious.
Remember, this is all about preventative health and true, deep self-care. Our bodies come crashing down when we’ve overextended ourselves and are exhausted. As a result, we get sick and put ourselves out of the game for days on end — feeling like crap and sniffling through every business meeting.
The key to self-care is learning to listen to cues from your body about when you need to slow down. When you need deep, authentic rest, and a day of unstructured time at home — to give you the energy to power through another five weeks until your next vacation.
Otherwise you may get burnt out, you may get sick, you may put yourself at risk for long-term chronic lifestyle disease. During your Fake Sick Day, your company will go on without you. Yes, it might mean 20 percent more work on the day you get back, but you’ll benefit from the renewed energy and positive mindset to get through your tasks.
Also, please don’t drink the night before. I highly advise you not to spend the day recovering from a hangover. You’ll only get the true benefits of a Fake Sick Day if you make it about preventative wellness and restoring your energy to charge ahead with greater productivity.
>>> A WORD TO MY GOODIE-TWO SHOES OUT THERE:
You’re a good employee. You’ve earned the brownie points. You’ve put in the time and sneaking in two sick days a year is not going to take that away from you.
Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your Fake Sick Day. I promise, I won’t tell a soul!