Taking a day off of work, sent me into a guilt trip

I swear there’s something really really distressing about taking a day off.
No seriously.
It was completely at random, I didn’t have much of a serious ailment that would keep me in bed rendering me useless and unproductive. No. Not really.

In fact, I was working, more than the usual 8 hours even though I was home, in my pajamas and had all the reason to just you know, chill. But ‘chill’ during a perfectly fine workday, came with its own cost.
Like I said I was working anyhow. I was productive. But the thought of guilt kept creeping down my back. Like I was doing something wrong like I was going to be in trouble, even though I haven’t done anything wrong to feel that way.

I was guilt-tripping.

Missing work (not literally) sent me into an anxiety mode. It was weird, and it isn’t the first time this happened. And I’m not the only one this happens to.

I asked around, did my share of research, and apparently there are people, a lot of people, who feel guilty missing work, not because they’re scared they’ll be thrown out, or the manager will scold them, or their salary will get cut. It’s just a generalized fear of not being able to take a day for themselves.

Which had me thinking about the last time I took a break from work, for myself (not because I had to rush to the doctor, take care of someone, or run errands).
And I drew a blank. I don’t think I voluntarily ever woke up and felt like-

Alright Isha, today you’re gonna stay home and chill.

So, if this is how the situation is for 20 somethings working, that means there are people who are generally lets say not in their brightest moods, maybe they’re excessively stressed, they haven’t gotten sleep in ages, they have work that keeps them up all night, who still wake up every morning and go to work, because the very thought of an ‘off-day’ scares them shitless.

I enjoy working, I like being productive, but that’s just cause I’ve programmed myself to be like that, to be robotically working, day after day, and well to be very honest, I am sometimes scared of the mail I get if I don’t do 8 hours of work, or take an off day, or get a stare from the HR.

There is a culture of subtle penalty that exists, wherein you’d track leaves they take for which no reason has been cited, and then ask them why they took that. We no longer consider people to be approachable when it comes to how you’re feeling. Even though people are now equipped with all the information about depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress. Promoting yoga day, getting a dog at the workplace, doing everything to create a positive workplace, but just not talking about it, doesn’t do much.

I mean have you ever cited this reason to leave work early, or take a day off?

Hey boss,

Just wanted to let you know that I’m not doing great these days, I’ve been jittery and stressed about a lot of things, and I would really like to have a day to myself to get things together.

The question is, why don’t you?

Why can’t we openly talk about the fact that people in highly stressful environments sometimes need a breather beyond the 8-hour shift and beyond their limited number of leaves?

Don’t mistake this for a rant, it’s not.

It’s sad we celebrate Mental Health Day but are unaware of the subtle signs the people around us are showing or giving away.

Have you thought about asking the fellow who sits beside you, why he looks tired all the time?
Have you tried asking your manager how they’re doing beyond their physical health?
Have you asked the girl having an absurd amount of coffee, why she’s having difficulty sleeping?

Have you tried asking yourself, if you’re doing ok?

Everybody works, Everyone of us go through an extreme amount of stress that we leave at home or behind the main door of our workplaces when we have our suit and our work mode on. For 8 hours, you don’t let anything come in the way of you and your work.

But, cmon. You cannot control how you feel.
The sudden anger, that forgetfulness, the headache you keep numbing with disprin?
They’re not just the season changing, a minor cold or work getting tough.

You shouldn’t wait for an even bigger sign to tell yourself that you need to take a BREAK.

Don’t force yourself to do things that are only causing you more distress. Honestly, I say it from both sides, because I’ve been in both situations, when you’re stressed, anxious, come to work numbing down emotions, and things that went wrong at home or in your life, your work gets hampered, and it’ll cause you added stress, not to mention by doing that you’re not even giving your 100% to the job you’re doing, and that’s just bad not only for you but for everyone working with you.

You don’t say ‘I’m not feeling great about myself’ when you’re taking a leave because you feel you’ll be judged, your performance will be judged, or it’ll leave a bad impression. But if you don’t, nobody will know.

The next time you feel, the stress in you has reached a threshold, where it’s affecting the way you function, or the work you do. Or even if you feel, out of place, restless-

Hey boss,
Just wanted to let you know that I’m not doing great these days, I’ve been jittery and stressed about a lot of things, and I would really like to have a day to myself to get things together.

Hit send on this message. Let them know.
Talk about it.
Ask them how they’re doing.

A lot of people, especially in an organized scenario, are just scared of what others will think about them if they open up.

Taking a day off for yourself, to get better, should not be limited to breaking a bone, catching a cold, or any other reason. And it definitely should not cause you more stress.

Talk about it.

The next time you’re taking a day off for yourself, for your mental health, don’t mask it as ‘I have a cold’.

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