What Is Stress Leave & How To Take It
Stress is an inevitable part of any job. However, at times it can become too much to handle, and take a toll on our health and overall wellbeing. During the times you feel burned out and hopeless, it’s important to know what you can do to improve your situation. That’s why we decided to talk about stress leave, what it is, and when to take it.
What is stress leave?
Before we start, let’s explain what stress leave is.
Different countries have different ways of dealing with stress leave. In the US, for instance, an FMLA law provides an employee with an opportunity to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave.
When employees request a stress leave, it usually means they’ll be absent from work for longer periods, since the situation is much more serious and it cannot be fixed in a few days.
Some of the signs employees need to take stress leave include:
- Inability to perform work chores and duties.
- Inability to work effectively due to stress.
- Work-related stress that’s spilling over to personal life.
How to take a stress leave?
Stress leave usually means an employee will be absent from work for a prolonged period. That’s why it’s important to know and follow the steps to request it properly.
Step 1: Consult your doctor
The first step towards taking a stress leave is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Many people postpone their doctor’s appointments since they tend to brush off the symptoms too easily, which results in more intense symptoms that wreak havoc on mental and physical well being. That said, make sure to schedule the doctor’s appointment before your condition escalates too much. Be honest about what you’re feeling, and don’t hold back anything, as it will help your doctor make the most accurate diagnosis.
Step 2: Get the note from your doctor.
Scheduling a doctor’s appointment is one thing, getting the notice that will allow you to take leave is another thing. Many people might feel reluctant to ask their doctor to give them time off from work due to stress, as the symptoms are less palpable, and imposter syndrome might kick in, telling them they don’t deserve it. That’s why it’s important to be fully honest with your GP, as they know how to help you in the best way.
Step 3: Notify your employer
After you get the note from your doctor, suggesting you should take time off to recover, you should talk to your employer about it. And even though it might be uncomfortable disclosing the reasons for your leave requests, remember that stress leave is a common situation and your employer was already in a situation where an employee asked for it. That said, you should be open and honest with your boss, and don’t hold back.
Step 4: Focus on the recovery
Now, when you have stress leave approved, it’s time to focus on the recovery and steps you need to take to feel better. You should try to switch off from work as much as possible, to allow yourself to unwind and recharge. Don’t check and answer your work emails and messages, as it will stall your recovery process. Work on the main reasons for your stress, and try to deal with them, now when you have time to do so. Work on identifying the root cause of your problems and resolving them. Lastly, don’t try to rush the process, but rather take one step at a time.
Step 5: Returning to work
Returning to work after a vacation can be stressful, let alone coming back from the stress leave. That said, make the return as slowly as possible, progressively stepping into your old role once again. You can ask your employer to start with a few hours a week, and then progressively step into your old schedule again. During this process, make sure to listen to yourself closely, to avoid getting stuck in the same pattern again.
Step 6: Learn how to manage your stress.
Stress at work cannot be avoided, no matter how much you love your job. That’s why you should know how to manage it properly, and implement coping mechanisms that will help you live your life to the fullest, and enjoy what you do for a living. If you feel like your work is stressing you out too much, make sure to talk with your manager about the workload, and how to improve your situation. Talk with your colleagues, and be open about it – chances are they felt the same at some point and knowing you share something in common might help you feel better. They might offer some help, as good teammates do, which will make your work relationship better, and improve your engagement and overall job satisfaction.
Think about some lifestyle changes you can do to make your life easier, consider exercising more, and making bigger breaks that will help you unwind. Lastly, embrace stress as something that will happen once in a while and work on strategies that will help you overcome it faster and better in the future.
A cat enthusiast and a cupcake maniac, Ana is a freelance Content Writer passionate about HR, productivity, and team management topics. When she’s not at her keyboard, you can find Ana in the kitchen, trying to make delicious cookies.