How to Shake Off the Day Off Guilt

Some of us have a lot of difficulties asking for a day off because we think we may look unproductive in the eyes of our employer. That shouldn’t be the case and here’s why.

Looking back, it’s amazing to me how adaptable human beings are. I mean, the world was going through a global pandemic. There was severe isolation, quarantine, and social distancing, and yet again you know what we did? We continued working.

Amid the most bizarre, unusual circumstances, we found our ways to coordinate online, we met via Zoom, attended online meetings, and worked ourselves out probably even more than in the ordinary non-pandemic days — just so we don’t look like we’re at home, doing nothing, and taking advantage of the pandemic measures.

On the other hand, we were panicking and fearing for our lives and the lives of others. The world was in an unknown state of being, yet here we were, making sure that we fulfilled the capitalist expectations of productivity under any sort of measure.

We are yet feeling the consequences of this anxiety, as we continue working severely without ever taking the courage to ask for a few days off — not to go on a holiday, not to travel necessarily, but to simply wind off our minds a little bit.


Why We Feel the Guilt

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There are many factors that may be influencing your inability to ask for a day off. Sometimes, people won’t even ask for sick leave, that’s how serious the situation may become. People continue working under circumstances when their bodies are screaming for rest, hot baths & cups of tea. But we don’t listen. And usually, we don’t listen because we have often been raised in very difficult situations, where we have seen one or both parents struggling to find a job and keep it. We have undergone situations as children, where finances were not very much secure, and this impacted our entire childhood. That is why as grownups, we are consistently looking to maintain the job we have without taking too many risks, including never taking the risk of simply needing a day off.

There might be other factors as well, that have impacted the way we feel about productivity. We may have been raised by parents who were never really at home to spend time with us, because they were working the whole time, and their job was their number one priority. Maybe our trainer, teacher, or first boss was extremely rough on us, setting the example that we must perform as superhumans at all times, and neglect the whiny needs of the body and mind.

All of these people and experiences, might have shaped the tremendous guilt we feel about taking a day off, and it is important that we become aware of these patterns and try to unlearn them, for our own sake!


The Benefits of the Day Off

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It is not only about asking for that day off, that is important. Once we learn how to shake off the guilt, we become aware of the values we have as human beings, as well as employees. Most of all, we learn to reconnect with our bodies and minds. Whether we’re self-employed or working at a company, we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to be producing something at all times.

Asking for a day off, in the long run, means that you’re ok with taking a break, you create healthy boundaries and you’re not thinking that you’re going to let someone down, because really, nobody relies on an employee to that extend. Bottom line, we are quite replaceable, and sacrificing our own health is not worth it when in the long run we will have to deal with our exhausted, stress accumulated selves whereas the employee will probably just post another vacancy announcement and maybe even forget about your valuable contribution.

So listen to your body and don’t neglect your needs. The body knows what is best for you, and it speaks to us, whenever we are dragging ourselves to work without having the strength to perform well.


Photo: Kristina Holovach/Shutterstock


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