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Americans need to get better at taking sick days [washingtonpost.com]

 

By Christine Emba, Illustration: Luci Gutiérrez/The Washington Post, The Washington Post, June 30, 2022

My regular editor is off this week because she has contracted covid-19. And I’m glad for her.

Well, not glad about the covid — we may have vaccines and Paxlovid now, but I wouldn’t wish that still-mysterious disease on anyone.

Yet the actual taking of a few sick days, even while working remotely? That I respect. Because doing so has become unusual, even though in reality it’s more necessary than ever.

[Please click here to listen to Christine read her column.]

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Grumpy Old Man here - and a recovering workaholic. I love this article. Somewhere along the way that Puritan work ethic became my MO, and not only have I essentially never taken a sick day in 22 years (one), I haven't used up even half of the vacation time I'm allotted. And then I became ACEs aware a few years ago, and came to recognize that trying to function and be "successful" in the US is a form of daily trauma (using the definition of trauma as a situation in which our capacity to self-regulate has been exceeded). The epidemic of burnout is evidence of this. Of the many chronic stress hormone  releasing triggers in a normal day (traffic, parenting, paying bills), the demands of work are a huge one. My grumpiness now isn't from the standard complaint of "the new generation doesn't know how to work hard". Rather, it's that we collectively work too hard, and it's killing us, driving unhealthy self-regulating behavior, and making us all irritated with each other. Equity in salary compensation and a four day work week can't get her fast enough for me. That, and instead of putting hard-workers high on a pedestal that we all need to aspire to, we need to start pointing out to such people that they might be working so hard that it's affecting their health, and the health of their loved ones (creating the ACE of neglect for one's children).  I'm well aware that the changes I want to see ain't gonna happen anytime soon, but it helps my self-regulation to vent about it.

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