When people become stressed and are sent on sick leave, they are often taken by surprise. However, stress can strike anyone, and stress is not a sign of weakness. Efforts taken by both you and your workplace are crucial to prevent the stress from sending you on sick leave. This means that you have to be aware of your own symptoms, and that your manager and your colleagues are aware of any changes in your behaviour.
Overcoming stress is often a lengthy process. However, the right measures from your doctor/psychologist and your workplace can get you back to work again.
How to manage your stress while you are on sick leave
- Take your health seriously. Pay attention to your reactions and your health. Listen to your body and your mind (see Symptoms of stress above) and talk to your general practitioner. Your general practitioner can advise you about where to seek psychological counselling.
- Talk about your situation. Talk to your colleagues, friends and family about your situation. Perhaps your colleagues are in the same situation. Family and friends are closest to you and often see the changes first. Although it may feel overwhelming to contact them, this is often where you will find the best support.
Talk to your employee representatives. They will look into the psychosocial working conditions and support you in getting professional help.
- Talk to your manager. Your manager wants to know how you’re feeling. Tell your manager how you’re feeling. What makes you feel stressed? Is it:
- The nature of tasks?
- Work procedures, workplaces and/or working hours?
- Problems related to your colleagues and management?
- Matters of a personal nature?
You and your supervisor have to find solutions together and follow up regularly. Note that the framework for a solution is the workplace – your manager is not responsible for personal matters.
- Learn to prioritise and say no. Pay attention to what puts you out of balance. Learn to say no and consider the demands you put on yourself.
You must learn to choose and prioritise what’s important, but you must also to let go and stop worrying or becoming upset about things that are not your responsibility.
- Build good habits. It’s important to have energy to cope when you become stressed. You yourself can maintain or build your mental resources:
- Make sure you exercise regularly. Preferably half an hour a day, but 10 minutes is much better than nothing. It’s also a good idea to exercise in the daytime to get daylight.
- Relax mentally every day. Make sure to unwind properly. Use a relaxation app or other techniques, or do something that takes your mind somewhere else. Remember to take breaks.
- Sleep well and enough. Perhaps take a nap in the afternoon.
- Stay in contact with the workplace. If you have the energy, staying in contact with your workplace is a good idea. Call or visit them.