Re: Mental Health Days

1

I've never really taken off mental health days, or catch up on chores days, though my wife has better sense and does so as needed. She averages a few days a year; she took more in her old oppressive job, but much of that was compensation for the extra hours they'd demanded.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:18 AM
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I haven't taken them, but cow-orkers have on occasion. I think it's better to take them impromptu than to schedule in advance - otherwise you're liable to end up filling up that day with tasks and not get the relaxation you need. (We used to have three floating holidays a year for this purpose, but they were moved into regular vacation time.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:21 AM
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3

Speaking of finding peace, I let a United gate agent take my boarding pass. That may have been a mistake.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:26 AM
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4

If I wanted to fuck around over seating, I could have flown Southwest.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:28 AM
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I'm taking one right now! It is not particularly relaxing, because there is too much accumulated to do. clean the attic! and the basement! and all the piles of mail on the dining room table! And catch up on three personal projects! And relax, damnit!

So I think the relaxing is going to be a failure, but it will shift the slide of entropy to the work side of the universe, which can afford it.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:45 AM
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Though I'm actually taking a vacation day. Some recent discussion I've seen has been considering whether "mental health day" is better described as taking actual sick time or equivalent, rather than planned or semi-planned vacation, for genuine mental health and recovery. Perhaps what I'm doing would better be described as "working on home projects" rather than a non-work day.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:47 AM
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7

Could you schedule a "review day " for your students, or some other excuse for not having class?


Posted by: Parodie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:50 AM
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8

The last couple of vacation days I've taken have been of the, "plan to get some things done around the house, do one or two of them, and mostly sit around thinking, 'I am exhausted and not really functional right now'" variety.

Soon . . . things should slow down soon(-ish) . . .

I was thinking recently about how, whenever I mention how exhausted I am, people always ask, "have you been working really long hours?" I haven't been -- but I average about three days a week when whatever I'm working on is challenging enough that it demands being fully mentally present and committed, and it's shocking how much just that requirement crowds out everything else in life.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:55 AM
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9

I think the distinction is taking them as "sick days" when you're not sick in the physical sense. We get 3 personal days which are really just extra vacation days now since it used to be you could carry over vacation but not personal but now we can't carry over anything so it's just 23 vacation days a year instead of 20. I use those for occasionally for "getting shit done at home day."
We have 12 official sick days a year but salaried employees don't really track it- I've never used a sick day for myself aside from a couple hours for routine appointments (dentist this afternoon!) although I've certainly used them for taking care of family members. So I don't think I'd use one as a "GSDAHD."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:04 AM
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10

Is a mental health day an actual thing? Or do you all just mean taking a day off [vacation]?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:37 AM
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11

Taking a day off without any particular plan other than pottering around and, as SP says, getting shit done. Or napping.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:40 AM
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12

I get to try a connection at ORD through the space walk with an eight-year old. If all goes exactly right from this point on, we have 15 minutes.

On topic because stress.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:40 AM
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13

I've been trying to take more of those, because I get an awful lot of vacation, but, for managerial reasons, it's hard to schedule time to take it in a planned way. So I end up accruing a lot, and if I accrue over a limit (7.5 weeks) I lose it. I've managed to stay under the limit, but it means watching for a day when I don't have any obligations, and then taking it off as the opportunity presents itself. I took a four-day weekend last weekend like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:46 AM
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14

Is a mental health day an actual thing? Or do you all just mean taking a day off [vacation]?

I'd call it a mental health day if I were taking sick time to do it, rather than a vacation day. It's a euphemism for taking a sick day when you're not technically sick. (I know from conversations past here and from working in Germany that the concept of having a set number of "sick days" is weird to many non-Americans.)

I have a pitiful number of vacation days, and I keep those for actual vacations with my family and extra time around holidays. When I just need a break, or need to play catch-up at home, I don't feel bad at all about taking a mental health day. I do it once or twice a year.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:49 AM
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14: State vacation is crummy before 4 years of service. Management actually starts out better but union employees do better after many years of service.

I do think it's a bit different when you have flexibility over the summer.

A lot of places now are going to paid time off, so then you might as well schedule it.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:54 AM
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9: Wow, that's really generous by US standards.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:56 AM
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If I make it one more year, I get 20 days vacation, 2 personal days, holidays (including all days between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day), plus 12 sick days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:00 AM
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10 or 11: I almost did a couple of times when I had a super crazy boss and was on the verge of breaking down. The problem was that she wanted a very detailed plan for what you had been planning on accomplishing that day which was stressful to make, because she was so crazy. It was reasonable to have other people cover, but hard to say exactly what your plan was, because she was always disrupting everything.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:03 AM
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At my last office job, we had 5 nominal sick days and 5 or 10 (don't recall) vacation days. The boss was pretty explicit that he didn't distinguish between the two, but it was nonetheless a source of controversy over how they should be used. Part of the controversy was down to some of us being chronically sick* and others never missing a day for illness, and thus getting a de facto extra week of paid vacation.

I was in the latter group, so obviously I had no ox being gored, but even aside from that I've never seen a reason to distinguish. A 40-y.o. needs a doctor's note to stay home from work? Fuck that shit.

*one year a guy got docked pay because he'd missed so much time, only a fraction of which was used as vacation


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:15 AM
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20

Working for myself from home, the lines are obviously blurry between when I am and am not working, but there are certainly days - usually prepping for houseguests, but sometimes other things - where I pretty much decide early in the day that I'm not even going to pretend to get any work done (other than incidental correspondence or maybe one or two minor tasks). But that's almost always to get non-work things done, not to just putter (partly because I do enough of that already).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:18 AM
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Management actually starts out better but union employees do better after many years of service.

Management and union are the same after 4.5 years.

When I moved into management things also got better for me with the ability to work from home sometimes and having somewhat more flexible hours.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:20 AM
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I do think it's a bit different when you have flexibility over the summer.

Sort of. Except that's not how bodies work. "Hey body, remember all that sleep you got last year?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:25 AM
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23

I don't take mental health days; we don't have sick time and we're expected to make up all missed class time (even for things like conferences), but it's not really a big deal given that it's not as though there's a set schedule of what is to be accomplished in the classroom.

I am really burned out right now. I know there's a big study saying quality time matters more than the quantity of time but the Calabat can't read.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:50 AM
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24

The kid's only 2, Cala, don't be on such a fast track.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:52 AM
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25

Hee. Once he starts reading he can read about the importance of sleep, too!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:53 AM
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26

I carved out a mental health day last week and went fishing. I caught up on a few calls and some emails that evening. Still, it was great.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 11:32 AM
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27

i do sometimes. I've gone from 14 years of self employment to the startup life, and it is still an adjustment. That said, it is a startup, I do throw myself into my work, and there is rarely a day, weekends included when I'm not doing something work related.

When I used to have a company with an ex and things got to be too much, we'd declare a Day of Peeves, dedicated to whining, self-indulgence and no work. We called it going in strike at first, but considering the sloth, entitlement and alcohol involved, that wasn't fair to unions, not to mention were also management.


Posted by: grumbles | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 11:33 AM
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28

Just now in a meeting I said "well, I can't envision a time at any point in the future when I won't have too much to do, so I don't think it makes sense for that to be part of our calculation." Hooray!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 11:53 AM
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29

I did this All The Time at my old job and my boss knew and didn't care. I've done it once here and would like to do it more, especially since I went from 5 weeks of vacation at my old job to 2 here. It is just the best.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 12:06 PM
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30

Surely the ability to just disappear for a day without anyone being really bothered by it is one of the best things about being a professor. Take more days off, heebie!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 12:17 PM
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31

Can't you just claim to be "working from home"? Pretty sure that's what half the faculty teaching me back in the day used to do. Maybe America's different.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 12:18 PM
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32

I am in fact taking one of these days today, though mainly because my flight last night got in at 2 am and I decided there was no reason to even bother trying to work today. We have vacation and sick leave combined into paid time off, and we get lots of it, so taking a day or two here and there isn't a big deal and people do it all the time. I don't generally do it much personally, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 12:24 PM
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re: 31

Yeah. I work from home about 1 day in 5, sometimes 1 in 10. I do sometimes use part of the day to do things that I need to do during the day, but couldn't if at work, or doing childcare.

I am pretty conscientious about actually doing work on those days* but I'm pretty relaxed about, say, starting early, then slacking off for three or four hours in the middle of the day, and then putting in a few hard hours later, when xelA is asleep.


* I project manage the projects I work on, so I'd basically be screwing myself if I wasn't.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 12:42 PM
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34

I am pretty conscientious about actually doing work on those days* but I'm pretty relaxed about, say, starting early, then slacking off for three or four hours in the middle of the day, and then putting in a few hard hours later, when xelA is asleep.

And, remember, people do that sort of thing all the time when they're at work in the office -- deal with urgent things when they get in, then spend a couple hours not accomplishing much of anything and then decide what really needs to get done before they leave and put in a push from 3-5 and then walk out the door.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 1:00 PM
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35

It's almost expected at my office. We call them regular days off or RDOs. If you work 9 hours most days, it adds up to one day off every two weeks. I spend most of them running errands or doing work around the house, but sleeping in a bit is nice too. Can't save them up more than two weeks, though.

The distinction between non-RDO vacations, sick leave, and "mental health" days is a bit fluid because they all come out of one pool for us, like some other people here. It's often a source of tension between Cassandane and I. She gets more time off than me but they're use it or lose it each year. Whereas I get fewer, but could accumulate them up to some number large enough that it's never come up. So she used to try to schedule vacations at the drop of a hat, for the fun of it, whereas I was always thinking, "Do we want to do that, or spend two weeks with family for the holidays instead of just one?"

In fact, this relates to something that I've been complaining about in real life. Normally, the only parental leave I'd get would be the legal minimum, FMLA, 12 weeks unpaid. However, due to when our baby is due, I might not even get that. Our contract expires in early July and we don't know whether the current company will win or not. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem; it's happened before and the new company just bought the people with it, rather than deal with training new people, and the only difference for us was the name on our W2s. But for me, if a new company gets the contract, they wouldn't even have to give me FMLA because I wouldn't officially have worked for them long enough.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 1:04 PM
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36

I'm pretty certain I'm going to puke in the next 12 hours, but I didn't hurl on the airplane despite sprinting through the terminal with luggage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 1:28 PM
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37

I'm paid by the hour.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 1:34 PM
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38

I should have stayed home, for all the good my coming in today has done anyone. Then again, I wouldn't have done any good at home either.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 2:47 PM
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39

36 is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 5:14 PM
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40

Nice work, brah.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 5:46 PM
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41

You mentioned sprinting with luggage, but not the eight year old.


Posted by: grumbles | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 5:47 PM
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42

Shit. I thought it was too quiet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 6:23 PM
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35: Shouldn't it be based on the time working for your actual employer, not the time that your employer has had a contract with a different company?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 7:43 PM
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43: it is based on time with my employer. That's the problem.

I've gone to work every day for the past six-plus years in the same federal agency. But technically, my employer is a private company based in another state.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-15 7:04 AM
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And, remember, people do that sort of thing all the time when they're at work in the office -- deal with urgent things when they get in, then spend a couple hours not accomplishing much of anything and then decide what really needs to get done before they leave and put in a push from 3-5 and then walk out the door.

I'm sure none of us have any idea what you are talking about! But maybe you're right -- I hear there are employees that are so shameless that they spend work time posting comments on the Internet!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 7-15 8:10 AM
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35: Has someone told you that you (all of you working through this contractor) wouldn't be FMLA-eligible all of a sudden when the contract changes? FMLA has a bunch of stuff about joint employers that is directly on point (specifically including , and I think the general idea is that when you work for both A and B, you can become eligible with 12 months of work for either. This situation is replacing B with C, but you've got the 12 months with A.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 7-15 9:48 AM
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46: I just googled "FMLA joint employer" and it doesn't seem to apply. On the other hand, I really should talk to a lawyer as such about this.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-15 10:22 AM
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