Today is National Sickie Day - here's five top tips on how to combat stress, illness and upset in the workplace

Are you skiving off work while reading this?
Are you skiving off work while reading this?
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Today is National Sickie Day - the most popular day of the year to take a day off work.

The annual event, which marks the worst day of the year for absenteeism, falls on the first Monday in February each year, with around 350,000 people expected to call in sick this year.

Here are some tips to take the stress out of work from Andy Magill, wellness coach at Vitality.

"We all live very busy lives and it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by stress.

"With constant time pressures and a healthy work-life balance becoming increasingly hard to achieve, it’s no wonder many are feeling the January blues.

"Many of us are slowly adjusting back to working life now the Christmas holidays are over and it is difficult not to feel overstretched and stressed.

"If you’re feeling like it is all getting a bit too much, try to adhere to these top tips to help you successfully beat stress."

1) Allow yourself to switch off at the end of the day. Constant connectivity to mobile devices has become one of the typical features of the modern day office environment, and many find themselves checking e-mails past office hours. One of the best possible ways to de-stress is to turn off your work mobile when you leave the office. Switch your mind off completely from what is going on at work and let yourself recharge.

2) Lie in on weekends. One of the delights of the weekend is the luxury of not having to turn over bleary eyed at 7:00am to turn off your alarm. Catching up on much needed sleep is one of the best remedies for combatting stress. In fact, good sleeping habits can help you to be more productive when you’re back in the workplace. Recent Britain’s Healthiest Workplace research showed those who slept for six hours or less a night were notably less productive than those who got seven or eight hours sleep

3) Walk at lunchtime. Find time to step away from your desk, even if it is only for 10 minutes, to get some fresh air and clear your head. This small amount of physical activity does wonders by reducing your stress levels and improving your health. You can then return to your desk refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

4) Eat well. Healthy eating may not seem very appealing when the weather is cold and grey. However, eating well at work doesn’t always mean a salad. Why not enjoy a warming soup or vegetable stew to keep you going throughout the day? Try not to get stuck in a food “rut” either. Keeping your diet varied and rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes and fish is a sure fire way to lead a healthier, and consequently happier, life.

5) Make exercise part of your weekly routine. Whether it’s netball, yoga, or hitting the gym, exercise is an excellent way to de-stress. It will give you a boost of endorphins, which are guaranteed to help you beat those January blues. Needless to say, regular exercise will also improve your fitness and help you get a better night’s sleep, all of which can help you unwind after a hectic day at work.