Is Taking FMLA the Right Step to Deal with Your Job Stress?

Stress on the job is a part of the workday – dealing with deadlines, multiple tasks, dealing with other people or customers, and balancing time with family/me-time. But there are times when these tasks can take its toll. There are times when too much work, too little time to get them done added with difficult relationships with either the boss or coworkers (or both) can become too much for one person to handle.

This is when the breakdown can occur: it may start with feeling more irritable than usual or an inability to sleep well; other symptoms can include: stomach upsets, inability to sit still or relax, crying spells for no reason, chest pain or palpitations, headaches or other pains. Thoughts then start running through the mind of how stressed you are, which then begin to focus on dissatisfaction (or hate) for the job, boss, coworker, etc. What does one do in this case? How should you handle the situation if you find yourself experiencing any or all of these symptoms?

One option a lot of people look to is to take some time away from the job, usually through the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) benefit. Using this allows you to be absent from the job without penalty so you can seek help to learn how to deal with your emotions which will allow you to return back to your job. However, is this always the best option? I think not; there are other ways to handle the stressors of the job and better manage them.

Taking FMLA is a process, starting with contacting your supervisor and Human Resources (HR). They will then direct you to specific paperwork that needs completed by either a psychiatrist, medical doctor or a licensed mental health therapist who needs to certify that you are unable to perform your work duties and need time off. It also means making a commitment to enter into a therapeutic relationship for a period of time until you work through the issues that led to having an inability to deal with your work situation. It also means exploring your coping skills and strengths, as well as any maladaptive thoughts leading to high stress. In some cases, anti-anxiety or depression medication may be in order.

While not negating that things can become so hard that taking FMLA is necessary, it is only a temporary solution so getting a better handle on how you deal with stressors or situations that are uncomfortable is the key:

  • Identify any and all situations, people or other ‘trigger’s that you feel you can’t handle or cause you distress at any level. Analyze these to determine what exactly is the root cause leading to the fear or anger that lead to these feeling, which includes your fears, hurts or concerns around them.
  • Identify your strengths and current coping skills – the ones you fall back on during times of adversity – as well as all the various strategies you use to relax, such as taking a walk or other forms of exercise, journaling, praying, or coloring. When you list these out, you won’t have to think about how to handle your situations – you just need to look on the list you’ve created.
  • Identify specific strategies to refocus your outlook and take control of the work you do and how you do it, which is totally in your control. Take an assessment of how your respond to certain situations to challenge them and then give options for how you can better deal with. Pay particular attention to your thoughts and how you feel about your work situation; remember that we can talk ourselves into stress and unhappiness so questioning the validity of your thoughts will help you to put them into proper perspective.

Properly dealing with work stress is something everyone employed needs to learn; having good strategies to deal with the workplace is necessary to survive. One of those may include taking time off through the FMLA but use that as a last resort. Arm yourself with other strategies and coping skills as they will help you be successful in your work as well as in your life.

If you’d like help with dealing with job stress and take back the control over your work, call today for a free Discovery Session to learn more:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: