Sick Days, Mental Health Days, and Making Life Easier (Episode 60)

      Today, we’re back with our series How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again gonna crack open the topic of Pre-Sick Days and discuss how teachers should use them.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>>
Today, we’re back with our series How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again gonna crack open the topic of Pre-Sick Days and discuss how teachers should use them.       How many sick days does your school give you this year?
       How many personal days?
       How many do they make you pay for?
       How many have you used?
       How many did you use last year?
       What did you use them for?
       Are you saving them all up for the end of your teaching career and retirement?
       Of course, they're called sick days for a reason, so you want to make sure you have enough of those when you need them. But we want to add a layer of ideas to the topic of sick days.
       My thoughts on this started one day when someone cracked a joke and said she was going to take a “mental health day.” I laughed, of course, but then got to thinking how great an idea that sounded.
       This idea might be something you already think about or it might be brand new. What do you think about using your sick days before you actually get sick so that maybe you won't get sick or worn down?
       1st, let's get all the talk about retirement and maternity leave out of the way.
       In some states, you're unused sick days add up, and there's an incentive to not use them so they add up as paid retirement days or extra years on your years of service. If that's your goal, that totally makes sense. In this increasingly tough national teaching environment, we would ask you to consider if feeling less stressed and more rested might actually prevent burnout and get you closer to retirement?
       And if you're planning on having a child, take that into consideration for maternity or paternity leave.
       And now that you've thought about all that, then let's dive in.  
       Ever feel like you're behind on your planning and it's wearing down your soul? Before you get actually sick, why not take a day every other month to plan ahead. Take 1-2 hours and reflect on the past weeks and how effective they've been. Make notes for next year. Take 1-2 hours to plan the upcoming months. Or if you did this last year, you get to upgrade last year’s plan. You might even pick some strategic spots in the year schedule for this planning day, so it can get you through the next part of the year. 
GRADING       ...the never-ending monster! What if you planned 1 day a quarter for catching up on and organizing your grading and grades? Think about what that would do for your mental health and stress. But seriously, can we zoom out for a second on that? We're learning more and more that mental health is not just mental … IT IS physical health. No longer do we have to smirk and crack a joke about “mental health days” or “mental sick days.” Mental health and sick = health and sick. So if we're stressed over how far behind we are, we aren't well. For reals! So don't feel bad about getting healthy and getting caught up.  
R & R
       Invest 1-2 days a year into preventative health. Relax. Explore. Adventure. Connect. Go to the beach, mountains, mall, lake, amusement park. If you have personal days too, combine them together next to a 4-day weekend and take a trip. We took a whole week off at the end of Christmas and went to China for 2 weeks. Sure, I had to talk with my principal, make sure it was a good time of year, assure them I had great lesson plans and a solid sub, but then they were fine with it and I came back rejuvenated instead of exhausted. And sure, you've gotta really make sure those bases are covered so they'll say yes again next time, but don't be afraid to stand up for your health and use those days.
       And for those 1-day absences, now that we're thinking strategic about our health days, here are 2 ideas:
  1. Develop purposeful, helpful activities that fit into your standards and can be executed by any substitute teacher. Then you don't have to feel bad or fearful that your absence will be wasted.
  2. Purchase some useful lesson plans and resources that would fit those spots in your curriculum. Websites like can be super helpful for this.
       Hopefully this helps take you further into the conversation of how to keep yourselves healthy and peaceful in the long term. Now go take some practical steps toward using your Pre-Sick Days, so you can work toward health and balance.
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       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
Today, we're gonna crack open the topic of Pre-Sick Days and discuss how teachers should use them.

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