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Relax or Relapse?

Ever felt the need to take some time out to relax and recoup? For me, this is a yes! At a guess, I think it may be the same for others. Many people are comfortable talking to friends and family about needing a rest; but would you speak with your manager about the need to take a break?

Speaking from experience, twice in my career I have felt what I can only describe as pushed to my limit. I felt unable to have a personal discussion with my Director and so I opted for calling in sick instead. My absence was recorded as ‘headaches’ because exhaustion isn’t an illness… is it?

I remember sitting in my Directors office going through the “fit to work” interview process (part of the procedure) and being told that if a certain number of sick days were recorded, my absences would be investigated by someone else within the business.

I was young, working within a high pressured sales job for someone that I highly respected. On reflection, perhaps I was being slightly unfair. I wasn’t wrong to feel the way I felt, in need of some time out and close to burnout, but in hindsight I should have sought a discussion with my line manager and shared my concerns. I didn’t give my Director a chance to understand, or try and help my situation. Perhaps if I had have been more honest, and offered them the opportunity to support me, not only would I have felt more positive at work, maybe could I have helped someone else in the process? After all, work itself is very often the root cause of anxiety and/or burnout. Perhaps they would have appreciated the opportunity to review my workload and tasks?

Flash forward almost a decade and the same situation arose again. What changed this time? My approach. Maybe it was age or experience, but I felt I just HAD to tell someone how I was feeling. The response I received from Director was exactly what I needed. They didn’t respond negatively to the way I felt but offered endless support and also signposted platforms and call lines that could help me manage how I was feeling.

For anyone reading this that has felt like this previously remember - we all need to rest! Those that manage teams of people, please consider your back to work interviews as a guide. Ask the right questions to ensure your employees feel supported. I can tell you first-hand that it will likely be well received. By creating a supportive and open environment for your teams, you will almost certainly be doing all you can to keep ‘back to work’ anxiety to a minimum.


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