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Is stress interfering with your ability to fulfill your job duties at work? Maybe the job itself is causing all the stress, or maybe it’s related to a personal problem. Either way, if stress causes impairment on the job, you can possibly arrange for a leave of absence. Keep reading to learn how to go out on stress leave at work.
Work Burnout vs. Stress
Is being stressed out at work the same thing as job burnout? It depends. Burnout often results from excess stress levels at work, but being stressed out doesn’t always result in job burnout. Although some symptoms overlap, there are distinct differences between these two emotional states:
Symptoms of Burnout
When the demands of our job are so extreme that they surpass our ability to cope with them, it can result in burnout. Symptoms of job burnout include:
- Lethargy, deep fatigue.
- Feeling detached from the job.
- Increased impatience.
- Cynical towards job, management, or coworkers.
- Symptoms like headaches, digestive issues, or physical weakness.
- A decline in job performance.
- Sleep problems.
- Changes in eating habits.
- Adverse impact on relationships.
- Increased substance abuse.
Symptoms of Stress
Stress disorder can result from any number of sources, including family problems, finances, illness, caretaking, or relationship problems. The stress caused by the situation can become so overwhelming that it causes impairment on the job. Symptoms of stress disorder include:
- Increased anger, hostility, and angry outbursts.
- Stress eating.
- Muscle tension.
- Teeth grinding.
- Symptoms of headaches, indigestion, or diarrhea.
- Reduced sex drive.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Increased substance abuse.
Is it Stress or Anxiety Disorder?
To further define the emotional state you are struggling with, let’s look at the difference between stress and anxiety disorder. Again, these two mental states share some like symptoms, although anxiety can be more serious.
Anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder featuring an irrational sense of fear, worry, or dread as the core symptom. There are several ways that anxiety can manifest, each having its own unique symptoms or features. Anxiety can lead to impairment of functioning, isolation, and feeling a lack of control over the stressor.
Stress is the effect of exposure to a chronic stressor or stressors, such as working in a highly stressful career. Stress may also be due to an acute situation, such as a recent change at work or added job responsibilities. The stressor may be a personal situation as well. Both of these examples, exposure to chronic or acute stressors, can impact your mental health at work.
Can You Go Out on Stress Leave from Work?
There is no specific “stress leave” noted under the law. However, the Family Leave and Disability Act (FLDA) may provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave due to a “serious health condition.” This condition can include a mental health condition that can be incapacitating and requires treatment.
The ADA is another law that provides job protection for those who seek a leave of absence. To determine eligibility, the ADA lists the criteria needed to meet the threshold. If met, the employer will grant an unpaid leave, a flexible schedule, or remote work.
How to Take a Stress Leave from Work
When stress has become incapacitating and affects your ability to perform job-related tasks, you can apply for a leave. Do note that most employers do not pay for these absences, although you can use your vacation time or PTO.
Take these steps to obtain a stress leave from work:
- See your doctor. Your doctor will play an important role in securing your FLDA leave. Consult a doctor if your ongoing stress is preventing you from performing your job. This will create the documentation that may be required later.
- Meet with HR. Become informed about the employer’s medical leave policies, and the steps to take to secure a leave via FLDA or ADA. The HR department has a procedure in place for employees requesting such leaves.
- Apply for leave of absence. Once you are familiar with the company’s policies for taking a medical leave, you will submit a request. At this stage, the employer may request confirmation of the stress disorder from your doctor.
- Research treatment options. Be sure to discuss your treatment options with a mental health provider. You will receive input about which level of care is recommended and other helpful advice for selecting a treatment program.
Treatment Options for Managing Stress
Whether you secure a stress leave from work or not, you will need to address the stress. Uncontrolled stress is very toxic to both mental and physical health. Here are some treatment options to consider:
Holistic Treatment Elements
You may want to first try a holistic approach to getting the stress under control. There is a wide range of holistic methods that can reduce the stress and induce relaxation. These include:
- Guided meditation apps.
- Focused breathing.
- Essential oils.
- Daily exercise.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
Outpatient treatment is available in three levels of care:
- Basic outpatient. You can obtain treatment from a local psychiatrist who can prescribe medication and psychotherapy.
- Intensive outpatient. An IOP provides a more comprehensive option, with three sessions per week.
- Day program. The day program is the highest level of outpatient care where you engage in treatment five days a week. This involves a commitment of about 25-30 hours per week.
Residential Treatment Programs
A residential mental health program provides a higher level of care than outpatient treatment. The residential treatment setting is a private luxury estate that features a small caseload and customized treatment plans. Treatment elements include:
- Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a short-term evidence-based approach that helps the individual examine dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that lead to burnout.
- Medication. In some cases, antidepressants or sedatives may be warranted for helping to managing the symptoms of burnout or accompanying depression or anxiety.
- Holistic therapy. Learning how to regulate stress is integral to treatment for burnout. These activities include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, massage, and other relaxation inducing activities.
Mental Health Hope Guides You to Best Treatment Solutions for Stress
Mental Health Hope is an online resource for anything related to mental health issues or disorders. If you are wondering how to go out on stress leave at work, we can guide you thought the process. Call us today at (877) 967-9274