Are you lagging behind in your professional commitments? Is your work desk getting piled up with incomplete work? Are you working unreasonably long hours and yet not able to meet your deadlines? Chances are that you are expressing workplace stress.
As per the Global Organization for Stress report, 80 percent of people feel stress at work. Further, as per a study done by the American Institute of Stress, 6 out of 10 workers working in major global economies have experienced stress due to increased workload.
Stress in the workplace directly impacts employees’ mental health, productivity at work and overall job satisfaction. It is essential for employees to take stress leave from work to manage their stress. Around 40% of workers have expressed that they need help in managing their stress.
Managing stress in the workplace is beneficial for both the employee and the team for better performance at work. Unfortunately, not many organizations are aware of the importance of stress leave from work.
In this article, NoHQ has jotted down everything you need to know about workplace stress, its causes, symptoms, stress leave from work to manage your stress and how to apply for stress leave from work.
What is stress leave from work?
Stress leave from work is a type of leave that can be requested by an employee if he/she is experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression in any form. The leave is taken to recover from the effects of stress. These effects can be either physical or mental.
Laws regarding stress leaves vary globally. It is not recognized as an official leave in many countries. However, the law in countries like the USA makes stress leave from work legal.
As per The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 12 weeks of unpaid stress leave from work is allowed to employees working at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. However, to qualify to apply for leave under the FMLA, employees have to complete at least 12 months of employment or 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.
Employees also must undergo a diagnosis of mental health issues or burnout due to increased workload.
What causes stress in the workplace?
There are many factors that cause stress in the workplace. Here are some of the most common causes of workplace stress:
- Increased workload
- Office politics
- Lack of support from superiors
- Highly competitive work environment
- Sexual Harassment in the workplace
- Bullying in the workplace
- Lack of communication and cooperation between team members
- Lack of safety precautions or a hazardous working environment
Signs of stress – When to take stress leave from work?
Human beings have a habit of hiding and ignoring signs of stress. They would keep pushing themselves beyond limits and end up being in a prolonged state of depression. It is highly advised not to ignore signs of stress.
Here are some of the red flags that demand your immediate attention:
- Anxiety/Mood Swings
- Frustrated/Easily irritated
- Decreased work productivity
- Unable to focus even on the basic routine job
- Lost in thoughts all the time
- Oversleeping or trouble sleeping
- Skipping meals or overeating
- Unusual drinking and smoking
- Fast heartbeats
Stress leave from work while pregnant?
Pregnant women often get stressed about losing their job or affecting their work productivity due to pregnancy. The constant need to balance between work and taking care of their unborn baby further adds to their stress and anxiety.
As per a study done by the National Library of Medicine, pregnant women experience pregnancy-specific stress, which is a distinct clinical identity. It is mainly related to fear about the health of the unborn baby, the risks involved in pregnancy and medical complications.
Women seeking stress leave from work while pregnant should look for these symptoms:
- Increase palpitations
- Out of Focus
- Excessive Fatigue
- Excessive need to be in constant company of people/family
- A continuous feeling of frustration/anger/sadness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
How to take stress leave from work?
1. Review your company’s leave regulations
Leave policies vary from company to company. Review the same to know the official categories of leaves allowed by your company. If stress leave from work is not officially identified, you can avail annual leaves or sick leaves.
A fixed number of leaves, which is allowed during the year, are collectively termed as “Annual leave” or “Casual leave”. Sick leaves are designated for illnesses. Some companies may allow additional leave categories as well.
Research the requirements for availing each type of leave and proceed to prepare the same.
2. Know employment laws applicable to your region
Do some research on applicable employment laws applicable to your region. This will help you identify your opportunities. If your company’s leave policies are not clear, you might be eligible to avail it based on legal grounds.
3. Get diagnosed and procure a doctor’s note
It is important to get yourself diagnosed and get a doctor’s note explaining your health conditions. Explain to your doctor honestly about your health conditions for him/her to assess your situation the right way.
Presenting a detailed doctor’s note can help you in taking paid leave from work to deal with your stress.
4. Approach the HR Department
Get in touch with the HR department of your company. Seek clarification from them about the company’s leave policies to more accurately understand the leave structure. This will give you a clearer picture of how to proceed.
Finally submit your leave request. Clearly mention how much time you need off and the reasons for seeking the same. This will help the HR Department to assess your situation and determine its urgency. Also, it is always recommended to give plenty of notice for requesting time off, say for example 15 days. This gives your company enough time to prepare in advance to manage the work in your absence.
In case certain situations in your workplace do not allow you to take stress leave from work, you can discuss other alternatives that would help you in times of stress. You can suggest instating a no-chat work from home agreement to allow you to recuperate without having to spend time off.
Do not ignore your mental health
Do not ignore mental health symptoms. There is nothing to hide or feel ashamed of. Pay attention to what your mind and body are trying to communicate. Taking a break can help you manage your stress to a great level and start afresh.
There is always sufficient help when you start to look around. You can seek ample support from NoHQ to deal with stress and anxiety. As in the words of Demi Lovato, “You don’ have to struggle in silence”.