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How to Get Time off Work for Stress and Anxiety?

Andrew Langat
March 21, 2023
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Stress and anxiety are often inevitable in a workplace, and stressful situations always arise.

You might have anxiety about your performance, job security, managing expectations, or other life stressors, such as finding a purpose.

However, it may not be such a bad thing.

Positive stress is welcomed. Clinically known as eustress, it helps in job preparation and performance. However, if unwatched, it can quickly spiral into anxiety and distress.

Having an anxiety disorder can affect your performance at work. A National Survey research cited that people with anxiety disorders have problems setting and meeting deadlines, maintaining personal relationships, managing staff, participating in meetings, and making presentations. 

It is essential to be aware of your mental health symptoms. Everyone experiences stress and anxiety, but how you manage it matters. And when your mental health issues affect your work-life balance, you need to take a step back and work on it. You may consider requesting stress leave from work.

This article will discuss how to take time off from work due to stress and anxiety, what a stress leave is, its importance, reasons for applying for a stressed family and medical leave first, and tips on how to get a stress leave from work.

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What is a Stress Leave?

Stress leave is an extended period in which an individual can take off work to deal with work-related stress. This is different from vacation time, and it's necessary when a few days off are not enough to reduce your stress and anxiety leave.

Laws regarding stress leave from work vary from country to country. Still, the United States has a law called the Family medical leave act (FMLA) that guarantees employees about 12 work weeks without worrying about losing their job.

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How Do You Get a Stress Leave From Work?

If you are experiencing the stress symptoms above, you must take time off work to recover and relax. But first, you must follow some steps when applying for a stress leave from work. Here are some steps you can follow:

Step one: Identify the signs of stress.

Before requesting stress leave at work, you must recognize the signs of stress. They may be physical, mental, or behavioral symptoms.

For example, do you increasingly find yourself always nervous at work?

Step two: Check your employer's policy.

Review the company policy to see the protocols for taking sick or stress leave. This may include consulting your supervisor or someone from the hr department.

Step three: Consult a healthcare provider.

To request a stress leave, you need a doctor's note from a qualified healthcare provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who will verify that you need a stress leave to address your mental health condition. Book an appointment with a licensed mental health expert, list all symptoms, and be 100% honest. This way, you can discuss your condition and request documentation.

You can also discuss a treatment plan if you want their help.

Step four: Request for stress leave.

Once you have the doctor's note, are up to date with the company's policies, and have considered all other factors, you can formally request a leave of absence. It may include submitting a written request that includes reasons for absence, expected leave duration, and any other details required by the company policy.

Step five: Follow up with the human resources department.

Leave of absence is usually issued by the hr department, and they have the final say on such matters. Follow up with them to ensure that your leave has been approved and clarify any concerns or questions they may have. Be prepared to discuss what you hope to gain out of the period.

Step six: Keep the documentation.

Keep all documents for your stress leave if you need additional time off future or if the issues caused some serious medical conditions and you need more time to recover.

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What to Do During Stress Leave?

Taking stress leave might feel like a relief, but now the responsibility falls on you to work towards recovery. During this time, you can focus on self-care and address issues that caused stress.

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Do You Get Paid for Stress Leave From Work?

In 1993, the United States Family and medical leave act was implemented, entitling employees to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a "serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job." 

A similar law is the California family rights act that guarantees eligible workers up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave over 12 months. The rest applies to specific family or medical situations

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Why Apply for Stress Leave From Work?

There are some reasons why employees request stress leave from work. They include dealing with difficult work conditions and a high workload to attain a work-life balance.

1. Deal with Difficult work Conditions

Difficult work conditions can include harassment, gossiping, and bullying. Your happiness at work is tethered to the people you work with, and if you deal with toxic individuals constantly, you'll be increasingly stressed.

2. High Workload.

It's easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed when you have a lot on your plate. The pressure is on when you have to keep good performance constantly or can't say no to your boss or colleagues. Such pressure can trigger your stress levels and anxiety levels.

Work-life balance.

Having a poor work-life balance can negatively impact your mental health. Having isolating working conditions, job insecurity, a lack of control in your job, and few rewards can lead to increased chances of mental health problems.

Stress leave from work will help you put many things in your daily life into perspective and reduce stress further. The leave can help you work on having a proper work-life balance. You will be able to perform better and have a relationship outside the work environment.

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Importance of Taking Stress Leave.

A stress leave from work is an important step an employee can take to manage stress and reduce anxiety. Here are some reasons why taking a stress leave is important;

1. Encourage a proper work-life balance.

Workplace stress can affect an employee's personal life and relationships. Taking a stress leave can help them prioritize some aspects of their personal lives and help them have a proper work-life balance.

2. Improves your productivity.

Stress and anxiety can negatively impact your job productivity and overall work performance. Some time off can help you return with renewed energy and motivation to work and perform.

3. Reduces incidence of burnout.

Continued exposure to stressful situations can cause burnout and mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. A stress leave can give you quality time to recuperate and take a break from work, reducing the risk of burnout.

4. Prevents Mental health issues.

Untreated stress can lead to severe health conditions experiencing physical and mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Stress leave can give employees the time to address their stress and seek professional help if necessary.

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What Are the Signs That You Need a Stress Leave From Work?

Employees must be aware of the symptoms, as untreated stress can lead to mental and physical health problems. Here are some signs they should look out for:

1. Emotional Symptoms: stress can affect an employee's emotional state. It can lead to symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. Employees experiencing stress or other symptoms may be more emotional than usual and have difficulty controlling them.

2. Interpersonal Symptoms: Stress can also affect employees' relationships with their managers and colleagues. Employees experiencing stress may become defensive or aggressive and may experience conflicts with their colleagues or superiors.

3. Physical symptoms: Stress can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and digestive problems. Employees experiencing stress may notice that they are frequently getting sick, experiencing chronic pain, or having trouble sleeping.

3. Behavioral Symptoms: Stress and mental disorders can also cause changes in behavior. Employees experiencing stress may become withdrawn, have trouble completing tasks, or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or overeating.

4. Cognitive Symptoms: Stress can affect someone's decision-making ability. Employees experiencing stress may notice that they are having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions.

As an employee, you must look for these symptoms and take decisive action to address them before they become serious. Implementing stress management strategies or seeking help from a mental health professional can help you manage stress and prevent more severe health conditions from developing.

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What to Do During a Stress Leave From Work

Here are some things you can do during this period:

Get professional help: Involve qualified healthcare providers like psychiatrists and psychologists to discuss your mental health and develop a treatment plan that can sort you out.

Involving such professionals will help improve your mental health and manage stress.
Part of professional help can involve seeking the advice of a professional coach to help you improve your self-awareness.

Exercise self-care: You must care for yourself during stress leave. Have enough rest, engage in physical activities, and eat a balanced diet. Self-care helps you recharge and relax.

Address your source of stress: During your stress leave, try to identify the source of stress in your life and develop ways to address them. This may include adjusting your schedule and changing your work environment.

Find support networks: Surrounding yourself with people who care about your well-being can provide you with the emotional support you need during this period. They may include support groups, friends, or family.

Search for new interests: during your time off, you can explore new interests that may bring you joy, which can help you improve your mental health condition.

Follow up on your progress: keeping track of your progress can help you identify areas needing additional attention.

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Tips to Get Back To Work Stress-Free?

Here are some tips:

1. Consult your employer: Before returning to work, discuss your concerns and needs with your employer. This will ensure that you return to work stress-free.

2. Have boundaries: prioritize your well-being when you get back to work and set boundaries. This may include saying no to requests or tasks you are uncomfortable doing and taking breaks when needed.

3. Ease back to work: It's important to ease back into position slowly rather than trying to jump back in at total capacity. This may involve starting with shorter workdays, taking on lighter tasks, or working from home for some time.

4. Stay positive: having a positive outlook will help you find happiness and fulfillment in your job. This can help you be engaged and motivated even in stressful situations.

5. Apply stress management techniques: Use meditation and deep breathing to help you stay calm when you are overwhelmed.

It's challenging to return to work after a stressful leave, but with the right strategies and support, it's possible to return to work with renewed focus and energy.

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Andrew Langat
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Andrew Langat is an experienced content specialist in Leadership, Productivity, Education, Fintech, and Research. He is an avid reader and loves swimming as a hobby. He believes that quality content should be actionable and helpful.