Your Most Pressing Work Questions Answered

It's never been easy to juggle the demands of a job with the needs of your family. But in today's economy, with so many companies cutting back and laying off, it can be particularly daunting to tell your boss that you have to leave early because of a childcare emergency -- let alone to attend the preschool sing-along. Even in tough times, though, you can be a reliable employee and a good parent. Our experts have great advice to help you find the balance.

Need a Mental-Health Day?

Your Most Pressing Questions Answered

Robin Lehr

Q. My daughter has been waking up with nightmares for more than a week. As a result, I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. Is this a legitimate reason for me to take a mental-health day?

A. Go ahead and call in sick. After all, it's the symptoms, not the diagnosis, that count. Physical exhaustion and the stress of comforting a hysterical child night after night can make you groggy, cranky, achy, and queasy -- the same way you'd feel if you were getting a bug. And those are absolutely legitimate reasons to stay home. "You wouldn't share the gory details if you couldn't go to work because of diarrhea," says Gabriela Cora, MD, a psychiatrist and executive coach in Miami. In fact, by staying home and taking a nap, you reduce the chances that your weary immune system will lose out to a contagious bug. That said, don't make a habit of calling in sick like this. You don't want to be truly ill next month and find yourself with no days left to take.

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