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.