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why taking a sick day is important for your health.

We often think of a “sick day” as a last resort when a case of the flu or headache leaves us feeling too bad to work. Recently, a phenomenon known as presenteeism has also grown across the workforce. Remote workers feel pressure to stay connected because computers and phones are easy to access but learning how to disconnect is critical for maintaining your health.

A new study has shown that people are also just as likely to need sick days for their mental health as they are for physical ailments. That same study also showed that – for several important reasons – taking sick days is more challenging than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sick days stress people out.

Top 3 concerns when considering a sick day:

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Risk of infection while visiting a doctor's office.

A fatigued person


Not being able to help children with schoolwork.



Losing income/job.

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We found that more than half of people who work entirely remotely feel more stressed or anxious about taking a sick day this year than in past years. And two-thirds of remote workers were more likely to take a sick day for mental health reasons this year.

When people do take sick days, they face a range of challenges, including caring for children at home, traveling to doctors’ offices, and losing income. In a world where almost nine out of 10 people working from home have felt more pressured to perform, it can feel very daunting to take a day off – even when you genuinely don’t feel well. So, how can you reduce sick day stress?

Three ways to reduce sick day stress.

Here are three ways you can feel more confident and less stressed about taking sick days.

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1. Communicate with coworkers.

The earlier you can notify your supervisor or coworkers you will be out sick, the better. By taking 20-30 minutes to send emails about project updates or rescheduling meetings, you and everyone you work with will feel better about your absence. Because company policies on sick days differ, you can keep your reasoning brief and avoid details when requesting a sick day (especially for mental health needs you would prefer to keep private).

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2. Make rest a priority.

While it may feel tempting to use the newly acquired free time to catch up on email or finish all the items in your planner – use your time off to get some much-needed rest. Rest is a critical part of recovery, and it can sometimes make all the difference between feeling better quickly and continuing to feel awful.

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3. Use virtual doctor visits to your advantage.

MDLIVE doctors are on-call 24/7 with average wait times of less than 15 minutes. That means no trip to a doctor’s office, reducing the stress and expense of a sick day – which can average as much as $227 according to MDLIVE’s study. Especially for parents, using telehealth means less disruption for the whole family and not having to balance childcare needs with your need to get treatment, including prescriptions.

Click here to register or start a virtual doctor visit.

Take true mental health days.

It is more difficult to “see” mental health, so it can be easier to ignore. With an estimated 55% of sick days resulting from mental health needs, we need to broaden our image of sick days beyond flu bugs, thermometers, and chicken soup. A massage, reading a book, taking an exercise class, and other forms of self-care are acceptable uses of a sick day. It may feel awkward to think about it this way, but just like over-the-counter medicines can treat headaches, relaxing activities can treat stress. Small daily exercises can help, as well as therapy sessions with an MDLIVE therapist if you need someone to talk to.

Sick today, better tomorrow.

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You may be experiencing presenteeism, causing you to feel undue pressure or guilt about taking a day off to rest your body. It’s important to recognize that it is not only okay to take a sick day but very necessary when you aren’t feeling well. By taking time to rest and using important tools like MDLIVE, you give yourself the chance to feel better faster so you can get back to being you.

Posted date: February 23, 2021

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