Dubbed ‘National Sickie day’, the first Monday in February is the day of the year which has traditionally seen the highest number of employees calling in sick. It is estimated that around 350,000 of us will call in sick on this day, costing the economy around £45 million each year! But what is the real reason you’re calling in sick?
Research shows that this is down to a number of factors; from feeling the post-Christmas blues, to the miserable weather, to nursing a hangover from the first weekend after Dry January! Other reasons include having a cold and struggling with mental health issues, while stress and recurring medical conditions also feature.
However, according to the Employment Law Experts, some of the most unbelievable excuses for missing work on National Sickie Day include:
“My friend is on annual leave so I can’t get a lift”
“It’s my dog’s birthday and I need to arrange a party for him”
“I can’t come in today because my flatmates took my door handle off and I can’t get out”
“I’ve managed to secure a parking space outside my house and I can’t risk losing it”
According to the CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work report, minor illnesses including colds, stomach upsets, flu, headaches and migraines are the most common reasons employees call in sick. The report also shows that 77% of employees said they would tell their boss the real reason they are off sick if they have a physical issue such as the flu, back pain or an accidental injury.
Almost one in three (29%) UK employees suffered with stress, anxiety or depression in the past 2 years. However, workers are more likely to lie to their employer about why they are unwell if their real reason is a mental health issue, with 43% feeling uncomfortable disclosing mental health to their manager.
But why? You’d probably take a sick day if you were physically hurt, so why do you feel guilty or scared to take a sick day if you’re struggling with your mental health? Just because mental health is not as visible, it doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
With current lockdown restrictions being in place, it’s more important than ever to be aware of our mental health and how we can look after it. So, on National Sickie Day this year, have a think about your overall health and wellbeing and use our tips below to try and improve it!
Top tips on how to look after your mental health:
Talk about your feelings – Talking about your feelings is not a sign of weakness. It’s a part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.
Keep active – Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep and feel better.
Eat well – Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, much like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
Drink sensibly – We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. When the drink wears off, you may feel worse due to the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
Keep in touch – There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but currently that’s not always possible. Why not give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!
Ask for help – None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.
Take a break – A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or going for a walk somewhere new. Just a few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
Do something you’re good at – What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress, doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem
Accept who you are – We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life can take a difficult turn.
Care for others – Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.
For more information on looking after your mental health, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health