10 Reasons You Should Call in Sick Today

Downtime is a prerequisite of productivity. Research shows that we actually need rest to not only perform at our peak, but to perform well, period. A 2010 LexisNexis survey of 1,700 white collar workers from the U.S., China, South Africa, the U.K., and Australia revealed that employees spend more than half their workdays receiving and managing information. What's more, half of those surveyed workers confessed that they were reaching a breaking point after which they would not be able to accommodate the deluge of data. (See also: 20 Free or Really Cheap Ways to Reduce Stress)

"Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets," essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times. "The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done."

So read on for our roundup of the best, most legitimate reasons you should call in sick today.

1. You Need to Memorize a Lot of New Information

Remember how those vocabulary words would click better the morning after a long study session? That's because memory depends on sleep. When our brains take pause from learning something new, all that recently accumulated data gets etched into the tissue of our minds so that it's at the ready for real-world application. It stands to reason that a day of rest might be just what you need to solidify all that new information.

2. You Long to Be Anywhere But the Office

Taking a deliberate periodic rest has been found to make workers more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to envision a long-term future at the company that currently employs them. Even a single day off during the regular five-day work week has been shown to make workers not only more productive, but also more prideful in their work. "A short vacation is like a cool shower on an oppressively muggy summer day — a refreshing yet fleeting escape," writes Scientific American writer Ferris Jabr.

3. Your Creative Spark Needs Rekindling

When we're overworked, our creative energy tends to be the first thing to go. To get it back, we need rest and time away from our work. "In the breaks, that's where the 'aha moment' comes," said Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time.

4. You've Been Yelling At Your Spouse and Kids

We all have work frustrations, but not all of us feel comfortable expressing them in the office. So in turn we cope with them at home. If you've been treating your family unfairly due to work-related angst and stress, it's probably time for a time-out.

5. You Haven't Been Sleeping Well

Studies show that if insomnia, apnea, and other kinds of sleep disturbances were eliminated, the total cost of worker sick days could be cut by 28%. "It is well known that chronic sleep deficiency causes several daytime impairments," said Borge Sivertsen, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. "Our ability to sustain attention and maintain peak cognitive performance is significantly reduced if we are sleep deprived over longer periods." So if you wake up in the morning still feeling bleary-eyed, Siversten said the remedy is most likely more sleep.

6. You're Stressed Out

Long-term stress and anxiety actually changes our brain chemistry, making us over-sensitive and even paranoid. If you're beginning to experience these symptoms, experts say it's best to pull yourself out of that stressful environment and give your brain a chance to shock itself back to normal.

7. You're Dealing With a Personal Crisis

When we're dealing with emotional trauma from things like depression, the death of a friend or family member, or divorce, it's nearly impossible that our job performance won't suffer. That's because we perform better and are more likely to come up with the next big idea when we're emotionally sound and happy. The only way to overcome a personal crisis, and thereby get your job performance back on track, is by taking the time to deal with it head-on.

8. Your Child Is Home Sick From School

Most employers have a policy about staying home from work when your child is sick and unable to attend childcare or school. That's because one of the most important parts of parenting is being there when your child is ill and needs you most. Don't forget to alert your boss early if your child has a serious illness and you think you may need more than one day away from the office.

9. You're Burnt Out

The only way to pull yourself back up after you've worked yourself into the ground is to take a little breather. Man is not machine, and if you keep pushing yourself to act like the Energizer Bunny, it's only a matter of time before you're bound to crash and burn. (See also: 4 Signs You're Burned Out)

10. You're Actually Sick

Coughing at your cubicle all day is downright discourteous, especially toward the other bodies in the room that are trying to stay healthy. And research shows it doesn't pay off in the performance review department, either. A British study found that 45% of employees attend work while sick at least once during an average four-week period. And those who most frequently attend work despite illness score lower on performance reviews than their colleagues who are more apt to call in sick, according to the study.

When do you call in sick?

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Guest's picture

Employees are given all this vacation and sick time that most people don't use. Really, sick time should be scheduled just like vacation time and used when you need to just get away for a day.