Take a day off: National Sickie Day brings self care, stress management into spotlight

Feb. 3—ANDERSON — Some may attribute taking a day off work for mental health issues to "laziness." However, a local counselor suggests the opposite is true.

It could be a sign of proactivity in maintaining a proper stress level, according to Kimble Richardson, a licensed mental health counselor from Community Health Network.

Signs of improper stress levels or "distress," include:

* Irregular sleep (either too much or too little sleep)

* Irregular appetite (too much or too little)

* Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly

These signs should not be ignored because they could affect personal and professional life, Richardson said.

If left unmanaged, symptoms could lead to more severe problems, including anxiety, depression and others. These can become debilitating, with sufferers being rendered unable to work or have normal relationships.

Self-care can play a part in preventing such symptoms, according to Richardson. Taking a day off, he said, is a form of self-care.

"(The person is like) 'I'm not under distress but I'm just going to make sure I'm staying that way," he said. "I do that by making time for myself.'"

Richardson compared taking a day off to getting a vaccine. Self-care, he said, can protect a person from stress-related illnesses the way a vaccine can protect from some physical illnesses.

Those needing a day off will have the perfect excuse because Monday is a holiday — National "Sickie" Day.

The holiday was established in 2011 after a U.K.-based law firm found that February was the most common month for calling in sick, or "pulling a sickie," according to nationaltoday.com, a site detailing a variety of national holidays.

Though sometimes used as an excuse for a day off, National Sickie Day is becoming a conversation starter regarding mental illness and the workplace.

Engaging in conversations could be a way of celebrating National Sickie Day. Such conversations undoubtedly raise awareness about the importance of mental health.

Nationaltoday.com also recommends pulling away from technology to give the brain a break.

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