A video game you have had your eye on is set to release on Friday, and you are desperate to play. Maybe your friends are all planning a marathon gaming session that goes into the weekend; you don’t want to fall behind on progress. At the same time, work has been dragging you down, leaving you feeling achy, depressed, and anxious. You need a break. Except, you don’t have much paid time off and you would rather use that vacation time for something planned later in the year.
What do you do?
The Problem With Time Off
We don’t get much time off as employees. A full-time employee is scheduled to work around 260 days a year (not factoring in holidays). For that time, depending on how long you have been at a company or what you negotiate before taking employment, you may receive, on average, between eight and 16 days of paid time off, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
However, if you are like one of the 28 million Americans with no paid vacation or holidays, you are pretty much out of luck.
Along with your vacation time, your company may also offer paid sick leave. The BLS states that this total around eight to ten days. But how many people use their sick days?
According to a story by the BBC, at least one person that the author interviewed said that taking sick time off was a “weakness.” More worrying is a report that found around 23% of workers have lost a job or were told they would lose a job for taking time off to deal with personal or family issues related to illness; others also faced suspensions or other penalties for trying to take illness-related absences.
If you have ever worked in a place with paid sick leave, you may be familiar with the comments made about people who use this benefit. Some people joke that the person must have just partied too hard or faked their illness, and everyone else is now stuck with making up for them. This can lead to people feeling guilty about its use, dragging themselves into work when they are contagious, or they may make up an excuse and file it as PTO to hide the truth of their issues.
Sick Days and Mental Health Issues
The U.S Department of Labor states that there are no federal legal requirements for paid sick leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act does grant some protections, but it applies primarily to childcare, serious health conditions that leave an employee unable to perform essential job functions, or a situation related to family of military members or those in active duty.
For everyone else, what constitutes a sick day is up to your company.
Thankfully, some companies have rolled sick days in with paid time off, so employees feel like they can use all of that time and not feel guilty. Other companies have also recognized the role of mental health in employee wellbeing. Being overworked can contribute to a host of physical and emotional problems, including:
- Increased alcohol consumption.
- Sleep disorders.
- Musculoskeletal pain.
But not every company recognizes mental health as an issue, despite it negatively affecting employee productivity and happiness.
But this isn’t just an employer issue.
Employees also need to recognize better when they have a health need! What starts as a stomach ache could be tied to the expectations being placed on them. So to the employee, they may take a sick day to deal with what they think is a stomach bug, when in reality, that ache is a consequence of being overworked.
This is a reactionary way of approaching personal health. When you deal with mental and physical health problems after they occur, they are more likely to be recurring. But when you can recognize what is causing those issues and then talk to your manager about changing things, you are working to improve things.
Do Video Games Support Mental Health?
Taking that sick day to ease your physical and mental issues may have some merit.
For casual gamers, something like Sushi Cat can help to lower stress and improve your mood. You may find that you reduce your depression or work through personal frustrations for those who enjoy violent video games.
Unfortunately, research into the role of how video games do or don’t benefit us is still ongoing. So for now, you will have to be the judge of your mind and body. If you find that video games are a good way to “reset” and feel better, and they are not addictive or getting in the way of your life, then using that as an excuse for a sick day may be the right call.
The final thing to figure out is how to call in sick when your company doesn’t recognize mental health days as a good enough reason for calling out of work, or you are perfectly well and would rather spend time playing video games.
How to Call in Being Sick Convincingly
Fake being sick at your own risk, but know that you are aren’t alone. Faking being sick is more common than you may think.
If you are trying to get out of work, there are a few ways to do it while being convincing.
- Contact your boss in the morning around the time they get into the office.
- Be brief and explain you don’t feel well; don’t offer up information unless asked, and don’t say you are going to the doctor as they may request a doctor’s note.
- Research different common illness such as the flu, stomach bugs, and food poisoning and if asked, explain that you are experiencing one or two of the more severe symptoms, such as chills, vomiting, diarrhea, or a runny nose; these can be disruptive to coworkers and could contribute to the spread of illness throughout your workplace.
- Never have a debilitating illness that could never suddenly disappear the next day.
- When you return to the office, don’t exaggerate. Just say you aren’t at 100% yet, but you will be in a few more days. Bring soup, orange juice, crackers, and other commonly consumed foods when recovering from an illness.
- Have supplements on your desk! Products from Argentyn 23, Sovereign Silver, and DesBio that provide support for the immune system can help to sell the idea that you are recovering.
Employees and employers need to recognize better the impact of poor mental health that comes from limiting vacation time, sick days, and burdening employees with too much work. Mental health days are one way to help, at least temporarily. But a better solution may be to roll sick days in with vacation days, so employees have the time they need to recover, or to play a video game that they have had their eye on.
But until that time, it is up to employees to take things into their own hands. If you have sick days, use them. A new video game release is the perfect time to use those days.