Our society places so much of an emphasis on work that it often stands in the way of our personal health. If you stop to think about it for a moment, it’s easy to realize that this logic is flawed. We only get one life and we’re going to put it in jeopardy to punch some numbers into a computer? That doesn’t seem like any way to live.
So, the first step in healing is often to reframe your attitude towards work. We do need money to survive, so work is important, but it’s not more important than your wellbeing. Let’s cover that ground again: Work is not more important than your wellbeing.
Whether you’re stressed and need a break or recovering from something major, don’t let your job hold you back from healing.
How to Handle Workplace Stress
If work is getting stressful and you feel like you need a break, take one. You may be an important cog in the machine, but no one is irreplaceable. A negative work environment can take a huge toll on your wellbeing, and a toxic boss can make your work life miserable. Chronic stress can weaken your immune system and leave you more susceptible to illness. If you’re starting to feel like work is affecting your physical health in any way, take a day off. Be sure to spend that day doing relaxing things, so you can feel rejuvenated when you return to your job.
If the day off doesn’t help, try adding a daily meditation practice to your routine. Try this simple meditation technique to get started. Grounding your mind before you start your day can help you remember what’s truly important (hint: it’s probably not the T.P.S. report). And if you aren’t exercising already, it’s time to start. Exercise is one of the best natural ways to relieve stress.
How to Handle Work During Recovery
If you’ve recently had a medical issue that requires time away from work, your job is the last thing you should have to worry about. If you have time before you take leave, get your affairs in order. If not, there’s still time.
Here are a few tips for handling work during recovery:
1. Talk to Your Boss
Even if your issue is a sensitive one, it’s a good idea to bring your boss into the loop. He or she can better help you by knowing what’s going on. Your boss may also be more understanding when you trust him or her with the truth. For example, some people in addiction recovery are afraid to discuss the issue with their boss. Fortunately, you cannot be fired for getting help. On the other hand, your boss may be able to help you through some of the hurdles. You probably aren’t the first employee who has walked this path.
2. Determine How You’ll Take Your Leave
If you require medical leave, the first place you should go is to your employee handbook or human resources department. Read through your employer’s policy on taking this type of leave. If you have an injury that is work-related, you’ll need to report it right away and discuss worker’s compensation with your employer.
If you cannot take enough paid leave to cover your time off, consider taking advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave. You can use FMLA for things like childbirth, addiction recovery, mental illness or physical illness under certain conditions. In order to take FMLA leave, you must have worked 1,200 hours in the past 12 months for your current employer. There must be at least 50 employees who work at your location or within 75 miles, and you must have worked for this employer for at least 12 consecutive months.
3. Keep in Touch With Your Employer
If you’re taking FMLA leave, you may have to re-certify every 30 days, which would keep your employer in the loop on your health condition. Regardless, it’s a good idea to stay in touch. By communicating with your boss and co-workers about workplace changes and happenings, you’ll find it easier to return to work when the time comes.
International Consideration for Work Leave
There are also options available if you are not based in the U.S. Many countries in Europe offer paid and unpaid sick leave that can be used for rehab and treatment for substance abuse. Moreover, because of the majority of European countries offer universal healthcare, prices for treatment are often lower. Although addiction is no different no matter where it occurs, some countries have vastly different methods of treatment.
If you think you have a health condition that needs attention, and possibly a break from work, the first step is to see a doctor. You’ll need a diagnosis in order to take any kind of medical leave.
If you’re physically healthy but are feeling drained from work stress, don’t be afraid to take vacation time. This is what it’s there for. Never let your job stand in the way of your mental or physical health. You are more important.