We know what you’re thinking: "I don’t even use all my vacation days. Why should I fake being sick? How is this even a good habit?" Two answers: You are going to use all your vacation days this year, and the unscheduled day off will help you do just that.
Let’s start with using that vacation time. Americans gave up 169 million days of paid time off in 2013. Working too much—especially in a volatile job market—becomes habitual. Like a daily smoker who started off having an occasional cigarette, you might not even notice you’ve stopped staying late occasionally and started working late out of habit—every day.
Enter the sick day—your way of taking conscious control over your vacation days. Take that random day off. The result will be a new appreciation for time off. Start with just an afternoon off if you can’t fathom a whole eight hours, and do whatever you want during your off time. The most important thing is that you’re present.
“Work when it's time to work and be there 100 percent, then play when it's time to play and be there 100 percent,” says Dr. Adam Perlman, founder of meQuilibrium and executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine. One day isn’t going to revolutionize your life, Dr. Pearlman says, but it’s a start.
And if you’re caught, tell this to your boss: Taking time off is great for you and the company. The evidence comes from an Oxford Economics report released in February 2014. It found that after taking time off, 67 percent of people felt refreshed, 32 percent felt more focused, and 40 percent were less stressed.