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Stress Leave: How I Used the Time Away From My Job

I was given 12 weeks of stress leave from my job. I used the time to clean, exercise, work on projects, and try new things.

When your work-life balance is out of whack, take a step back and re-center.

When your work-life balance is out of whack, take a step back and re-center.

An Unexpected, but Welcome, Leave

Recently, I approached my doctor about taking some stress leave from my job. I was terribly nervous about doing this, and most of that stress had little to do with the fact that I'd never seen this doctor before, and I don't do well with strangers. No, mostly I was worried because of the cycle of stress over why people tend to take stress leave in the first place.

It's no surprise that stress leave is becoming more and more common in jobs; people take weeks at a time off work because they're under so much stress that they feel they can no longer live their lives—let alone perform their jobs—as best they can. And stress leave is also much more common in the younger generation than in the older one.

So, with those two facts in mind, I had a remarkably self-defeating thought process going on. I was under stress. But some people go through much worse than I do, and for longer, working the same crappy job for years and years and never taking more than a week of vacation a year. And there I was, not even 25 years old, looking for time off work because I felt like I could no longer handle my life.

I felt like a slacker looking for an excuse to just skive off work and avoid taking responsibility for a while. I mean, how could I, someone who's supposed to be in the prime of their life, end up with so much stress that I needed to take a step back from life for a little while to sort myself out? I should be able to handle everything on my plate and more, right?

After all, I have a fairly comfortable life. I have an apartment, a good friend and roommate, adorable pets, and hobbies that keep me entertained for hours, sometimes days, if I have half the chance—things could be a lot worse.

But I also had two pets die this past December. I have a job that pays well, but I also have a job where I'm on probation and may end up fired after another month because I suck at the on-the-phone work. On the flip side of that, in my overnight database work, I'd spent weeks feeling as though I was the only one doing the work properly, and I spent half my shifts catching up on the work other people should have already done but yet didn't.

The lousy winter weather wasn't helping my mood, I spent far too much time in pain because of a sprained ankle (and then the subsequent feeling of lopsidedness and different pain as my body adjusted to walking without having to lean to one side), and I wondered quite seriously if my depression wasn't making a comeback. I had family issues going on, like watching my mother's new relationship with her supervisor implode, for which I was also taking some fallout. My shifts were cut back at work, and I had to switch to a schedule that meant consistently messing up my sleep schedule. I needed some time to back away from the things in life that were causing me stress, to see if that could help improve things before I talked to my doctor about perhaps going back on anti-depressants—something I really didn't want.

But I still felt weak. There was a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying that I should still be able to handle all of this and that people wouldn't take me seriously because I was young. Young people want to slack off, after all. That is the defining image of my age group, aside from the partying and drinking.

After hearing my problems, though, the doctor did put me on stress leave—more than I expected, actually. I had gone there expecting to maybe get a few weeks off, a month at the most, but what I ended up getting was 12 weeks off work and instructions on how to draw Employment Insurance during that time.

12 weeks! That was more of a reprieve than I could have possibly hoped for!

But what to do with all this time off? I can't just sit on my butt and watch TV for 12 weeks. As far as I was concerned, I'd been given a gift; I had a chance to potentially turn my life around from crap to cream, so to speak, and I didn't want to waste it.

What to Do While You're on Stress Leave

I made the decision there and then that I'd use this time productively. A friend of mine from a previous job confirmed that this was the right way to handle things. She had spent some time on stress leave in the past, and she said that without projects and tasks to keep her busy, she'd found herself under the stress of boredom, and that didn't help matters in the slightest.


First and foremost, my apartment needed cleaning, unpacked boxes needed sorting and repacking into better containers and put into storage, and I had a pile of dishes mounting up in the kitchen. This, I knew, would serve me well. In addition to the fact that cleaning would keep me busy, a clean living space is very good for one's mentality. A cluttered living space can make for a cluttered mind. It doesn't tend to make one feel good to go into a messy room and see belongings piled willy-nilly. Cleaning and organizing my physical belongings had a sense of symbolism to it. I clean my apartment, and I clean my mind. I organize what I own, I organize my thoughts. It sounds cheesy, but it's true.

Being in a clean space also tends to make one feel more creative, and I'd felt a serious lack of creativity lately. While I had creative ideas, it was more along the lines of "I want to want to do this thing," rather than actually wanting to just do it. I had no focus. That, too, is changing.

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But cleaning up won't take 12 weeks (I hope). What to do during the rest of the time?


The weather's finally turning warm and sunny around here, the snow and ice have finally melted, and the outdoors is fit to walk in once again. I need to exercise more, and so I've been making an effort to take even a short walk every day.

It hurt for a while, what with the ankle and lopsided body problems I mentioned earlier, but I'm stronger now, and my walks don't hurt nearly as much as they used to. And with regular exercise, I ought to start losing a bit of weight soon. That will be better for my physical health and my mental health, as I'll see myself getting steps closer to my healthy eventual goal.


With all this time on my hands, I now have the chance to work on some projects I've had on the back burner for ages. I have some original knitting pattern ideas that need working on, some that may help bring in a bit of money if I choose to sell them rather than release them for free. I've had dreams now of making my way as an independent artist, and if this isn't my chance to make a start on that, I don't know what will be!

I have the time on my hands to work on designs, patterns, items to sell, and writing to submit, without having to try to squeeze everything in a few minutes at a time among work, sleep, and trying to sort out everything else in my life. I know that 12 weeks of this won't be enough time to get established as an artist and make enough money to avoid going back to a more mundane job, but it's a start.

I've been meaning to start up an account on, a site somewhat like Etsy that allows independent small artists and crafters to sell their work and to increase visibility in their chosen field or fields. As soon as I get some products made, I'll likely put them up for sale there (and then probably write an article reviewing the site's ease of use and the diversity of crafts). I'm thinking of using some of my various scraps of material to make some embroidered pouches and bags to start off with before I jump right in and start listing larger pieces. (Plus, it'll give me a bit of a placeholder so that I actually have time to work on said larger pieces.)

Before I knew it, with all these plans, I had enough to keep me quite busy during this time off, almost as busy as when I was working my shifts in the first place. At first, that seemed somewhat daunting, but then I realized that the biggest difference between then and now is that now all my busy projects are things that I actually want to do, not just things I have to do. I may be spending a full day going for a walk and washing dishes, then doing some sketching, knitting, and designing, but even if all my hours are taken up doing that stuff, does it really sound so daunting? It is, after all, probably exactly what I'd be doing if I were on vacation from work rather than a stress leave.

And the stress leave lasts longer.

I still sometimes wake up with that annoying nagging thought that I'm just being weak and lazy, that if I'd pushed myself just a little bit harder, I could have gotten through this without having to take any time off at all. Other people do it and put up with worse, so what makes me so special?

The ultimate answer?


Nothing makes me so special, more deserving of time off than anybody else going through stress. The only difference between me and the people that push through it even when they know it's tearing them to pieces is that I went and asked for some time to step back. While some would see that as weakness, as not being willing to stick with things until they improve, it could also be a sign of strength and a step toward the ultimate solution.

I saw a problem, I saw a potential solution, and I took the steps to get to the solution. The solution is a personal one—me taking some time off to get my life in order—but it's still a step in the right direction, and nobody should be able to fault me for that. Nor should they find fault with anybody else who feels the need to do the same thing.

Sometimes pushing limits isn't actually the right way to solve a problem. Sometimes it works, breaking past the barriers and working nonstop to find an active solution. Sometimes, though, that attitude actually makes the problem worse, depending on what the problem is.

If the problem is too much stress piling up on someone who may not be able to handle that much, or doesn't tend to handle stress well at all, then adding more stress by telling them to just keep pushing forward is likely to make the problem worse. Sometimes the right thing to do is to take a step back, look at things from a bit more of a removed perspective, and try again from the beginning. Or maybe use the chance to take a different path or to carve out a new path entirely. That's one of the best things about having a chance to step back or to start over—if you have motivation again, anything and everything can be possible.

Being stressed can make you feel like you're drowning. Taking time off from work and focusing on mental wellness can help you get your head back above water.

Being stressed can make you feel like you're drowning. Taking time off from work and focusing on mental wellness can help you get your head back above water.

The Financial Downside of Stress Leave

The downside of stress leave, aside from the nagging voice of weakness that I keep having to tell to shut up and go away, is the financial aspect. EI is notoriously slow to process and arrive, and unless you conveniently had money put aside to take a few weeks or months off, you're likely to run into a few financial snags along the way. This can add stress to the time you're supposed to be taking to destress, which can do a lot to set things back.

My only advice on that is to be as frugal as possible while still being happy. Apply for EI as soon as you can, if you're eligible, so that even if the money comes a little late, it still at least comes, and you can catch up on debt as quickly as possible. It won't be as much money as you're accustomed to, but every little bit helps.

Also, with less 'unassigned' money (money that's left over after paying bills, rent, debt, etc.), you may find yourself appreciating what you have a whole lot more and taking more pleasure from the free things in life. It costs nothing to fill a bottle with water and to go for a walk on a sunny day, or even to just sit in a comfy chair outside and draw, write, or read an old favorite.

I'm a stockpiler and packrat, so I end up collecting more than I can immediately use. As such, I have a large backlog of books to read, video games to play, TV shows I want to watch, and stories I want to write. I already have these things in my possession; it costs me nothing to grab something from the shelf and start it. The money has already been spent, and I don't need to worry about factoring a new cost into things.

In a time where money will be scarce, this sort of thing is important. It's entertainment, which means that I'll be enjoying myself for hours, days, maybe even weeks, at no cost to the current me, and no debits from my bank account or borrowing money from friends. It's good, guilt-free fun, and if it's a book I haven't read or a game I haven't played, then it's something completely new to me, which can give me the same feeling of satisfaction as it would if I'd just gone out and spent money on the item half an hour ago. And it lets me go through my backlog so that I don't look at the lists of all the things I haven't done yet and feel so overwhelmed. A double dose of something good for the soul, and it cost me nothing that I hadn't already spent.

Writing articles for HubPages has been beneficial for me these past few days, too. Not only does it get the creative juices flowing again (apathy, depression, and a feeling of a lack of time all combined to put a block on those juices for so long), but when I feel like I'm running out of things to write about, I get a greater urge to go and try something new, so that I can write about that instead.

Try New Things

Another fantastic thing to do on stress leave is to try something new! If you have the money and have always wanted to take a painting class, go for it! Or hike a certain trail in a nearby park or wooded area. Or try writing a novel. If you've got the time and materials, there's nothing to stop you from going nuts and trying out some wonderful new ideas that you think will be fun. If you enjoy them, then they too will help cut down on your stress level and make your time off that much better or make you feel productive while you're at it.

While I have only just made a start to all these big plans I've talked about, at least a start has been made, and I also have the time to keep making some progress on them, to move forward in a way that I previously felt had been blocked off to me due to a lack of time and due to stresses sapping my motivation. Hopefully, by the end of this, I'll come out a better person, feeling more in control of my life and having taken a few steps on the road to living my life the way I want to live it. There will be fewer chains around my neck that are dragging me down and more freedom to make my living in a way that doesn't make me want to tear my hair out at the end of my shift.

And really, isn't that something we're all searching for in life? A bit of freedom and a chance to turn things in a more positive direction and to take control of our lives back from the people who spend their time learning better ways to control us? Most of us tend to live at the whims of somebody else, often a lot of different "somebodies," and that can be incredibly frustrating. Even if it doesn't reach the point where you need stress leave from work, it's important to take a step back and take some time for yourself. After all, without yourself, who are you?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


mh on December 18, 2013:

great info people. I am curently fighting a harrassment issue with a new boss hired to give exisitng employees a hard time even the good employees? I have had this person try to set up fixed issues to make me look bad and then add it immediately to a peformance review the next week ?? This is just one small example of many. Tried to talk to our HR department and upper management and was told to deal with it? People are taken advantage of all the time and leaves are a good way to help people.

Cat on April 13, 2013:

Oh My Gosh! Thank you for posting this! I am going through the exact situation though I'm only just about to go to the Doctor this coming Monday to finally put myself on the right track! I know that I should finally admit my stresses and hardships so I can finally have a break and hit pause on my job. For so long I'd been too ashamed to admit it. But you've helped me see that this is what I need to do.

Thank you!

Justin on November 24, 2012:

Hello I am also under a great deal of stress at work and was offered a layoff from full-time work with a verbal gaurantee to call me back for the 3 month tomatoe season. I did not see the doctor first and my employer is now taking my full-time benefits away. Can they do that?

Mandeep on June 28, 2012:

Just read through your article and couldn't have said it better myself regarding stress leave and how to make the most of it. Excellent work!!!

Sweet Hipolytha on May 25, 2012:

I just had a promotion few months ago and now its really stressing me out. I couldn't really say now that I am thankful of being given a higher role because everytime I'm at work I couldn't bear seeing the face of my new superior and being with my subordinates is becoming a burden . As time goes by, I am starting to witness how incompetent my boss is. She merely rely on the expertise of the people under her. At the end of the day she is not contributing anything positive. She is a back stabber and unprofessional. I can be insensitive or unaffected by her misdemeanor to some extent yet now I've reached the boiling point and I wanted to take a break. I am so tired , burned out. I couldn't sustain anymore to be positive at work. Worse is she doesn't want me to take a vacation leave. I am starting to have chest pain and tremors while working. I even passed out one time on my way to work. Now I am thinking of consulting a cardiologist . I just wanted to know if the doctor can give me a certificate or anything in writing that will let my boss allow me to get a 1 week vacation leave.

star on May 20, 2012:

Thank u, I'm actually thinkin of goin under stress leave. N after reading ur article I'm forsure going to do it. Work was fun, but new manegment took over n it has been so stressful I can't perform. Thank u love for helping me out

Amy Powell on May 15, 2012:

I'm 26 and the assistant manager of portrait photography studio. I had sick leave in February because I had recurring vomiting episodes. These had been going on for some time, although I had still managed to get to work. Eventually the GP diagnosed that it was Gastroesophageal reflux disease and was able to give me treatment. I’d like to hope that this has now been treated successfully, but my GP felt that the condition was caused by stress, I believe that I was suffering from stress because before I was promoted to Assistant Manager and my then Manager moved on and I had to take on a lot of extra responsibility. This has been going on for 0 months now, where although I was promoted I have still been acting manager for the whole time. I have still not had any management training.

At the moment I have a problem with my back. This started at work 2 weeks ago when I twisted awkwardly whilst doing my first sitting of the day, I just about managed to carry on working that day, where I did 3 more sittings, whilst not being able to stand up straight and the pain was excruciating. I have worked in catering and hospitality business for about 10 years and heavy lifting and standing all day was always a big part of any role, I never really had massive problems with my back, although I did have some bouts of stiffness or pain. It would pass quickly anyway. It wasn't until the job I do now that the problems have become worse, I suffered a couple of days of stiffness last year, but wasn't laid up or off work during this time. More recently my back has now gone again and this time a lot more seriously and more painful than ever before, my job involves a lot of activity and movement, lifting and bending up and down constantly. 2 weeks ago, it went at work, and continued my day not really being able to move much, the pain was excruciating. I took the following day off as I couldn't move and then the next day when I planned to return to work I was no better, this is when I contacted NHS direct and saw a doctor who told me to rest and gave me painkillers. I still went to work, because as manager I couldn't just drop everything. After a week of doing what I could, I woke up one morning and was extremely stiff, I couldn't lift my leg enough to get over the bath in to the shower, it was really difficult and painful, but I got to work. When at work I called for an appointment with my GP which I got, and she said i shouldn't have been at work and should definitely take some time off now to rest, I told my employer this and she said "well you're obviously not very committed to your job are you?" and said that due to the short notice I would have to work the Saturday (our busiest day of the week) and then Monday also.

What with the added stress of my position, the nature of my job and the problems with my back that I am clearly making worse my working, I am under a hell of a lot of pressure and the stress is definitely getting worse, I feel ill all the time and I find myself crying for nothing, one minute I'm really happy and the next I'm so down and miserable!

I found all of you comments truly inspirational and I'm hoping that my doctor can tell me what to do when I see her again in couple of days, I'm certainly ready to hand in my notice and resign from my job, and I'm getting excited about seeing some of the opportunities that I could apply for now, but the depression and the stress seems to be holding me back a bit, and I am feeling much less confident in myself as I used to.

I would love to know what people think about my situation, and if anyone has any advice I wold love to hear form you!

T Miller on May 08, 2012:

my job has me working 20 hours OT each week. I am on Paxil for 3 months, cry everyday due to the job. the co workers are mean and do half the job they are suppose to but somehow get away with it. I get to do my work plus theres. They feed us sometimes at dinner becuase we cant make it home to eat at the table with our family all the while arriving at work at 6 that morning and not ever even seeing the light of the day. I do get a glimps of beaming light into the window down the hall as I turn back into my cubicle with florescent lighting and files stacked all around me as if they are coming in to smoother me, the phone never stops ringing, the demands of the urgent and rush request poor into the today's things to do list as I was my family and life time tick away with the clock and list of things to do. I am so stressed out that when my eyes open from waking in the morning after only 4 hours of sleep I just start to cry. ther are no jobs right now, i have no way out.

The company said they were hiring more people which they did just to find out they are hired two levels above me and much higher pay while I get skipped in the corporate ladder. I still get all the work though. I dont know how much more I can take before my front leg doesn't hold me up on the next step, or my body doesn't work with me to get out of bed and make into the job. The job has taken over my life. I think constantly about what i have to do, what didn't get done, what will get added, what this what that to the point I fill like pulling out strands of hair and screaming and crying all at once. I need help , I need a stress leave. Thanks to this site i now have the courage to make the next step. thank you

I may see the light after all, depending on if my steps taken are done correclty. I am going to at least try. I cant take it anymore. I truly feel as the day ends and I know the time is closer to going to bed i will ball tears because that means to me I have seen my husband for about 30 minutes and the routine of my stressfull life and cycle will start over again with no hope.

Pray for me that i get the stress leave please. thx

maria gomez on April 30, 2012:

should listen to a song that says

"...What life gives you, it robs your soul". I think they are referring to the job

TY on April 06, 2012:

THANK YOU!! Here i sit thinking all these things just to see that I am not the only one. THANK YOU!

BJ on April 05, 2012:

First, thank you so much for writing this. I will be taking "medical leave" starting next week (my boss, the source of my stress, is away until then). My dr has said "at least 3 months". I too felt that way. "If only I did xyz, then he'd be happy and not take it out on me" but then I came to the conclusion that I cant change him. I struggle with a psychiatric disorder and some of the medications that I've been put on have caused me to not be as attentive as perhaps I should be, but I am still the "go to girl". Everyone knows they can count on me but my boss has started to nitpick things. I honestly think he wants me to quit because I've been here 8 yrs and he would rather hire a new person for less money. The reality is that I wont beable to come back here, but dont know how to go about having medical leave switched to regular benefits. I'm very scared as I also have high medical costs but I know the path I was on was very self destructive and dangerous. But I very much feel "weak" and like I was talking to my dr about something very wishy washy. I have had the same dr for 8 yrs as well, and my old therapist (that moved away) told me over a year ago that "you cant be well and still working there" and now I'm finally hit the end. Things I used to love to do, I've not done in years. I have always put the business ahead of myself. And yet, when I told my boss I had to take medical leave and when, he didn't even say anything like "I hope your okay" or "I'll miss not having you here".... his response was "you're okay to work this weekend though, right? I cant really change this weekend (its his daughters 16th bday)". It just solidifed for me that I'm not appreciated for who I am or what I do. I dont mean to sound like I think I'm the only one that does thing, but I've been here for 8 yrs and the next longest person is less than a year and I have taken on a lot of extra responsibility in those 8 yrs of working for them. Anyhow, thank you for voicing what I'm feeling and just letting me realize that its okay.

rok on March 29, 2012:

Thanks for posting this! I am on leave right now. The stress led me into depression and anxiety. The psychologist gave me until the end of April off and I meet with him to sort through issues at work. I have anxiety attacks if I get too close to work. I still have some days that are up and down. I know that if I sit around and do nothing, I will get depressed again thinking about work. I have made a plan to get myself healthy again.

Nlewis on March 28, 2012:

Thank you for writing this you put into words exactly what I'm feeling..I'm under 25 too. I work for a very small company (4of us) and I know taking a stress leave can be the best thing I can do for myself right now. I'm scared of actually doing it, sending that email to the boss cause things are crazy busy in my office.

An I crazy for being scared??

nisha on March 10, 2012:

is good to live without stess

help on March 10, 2012:

Thank you for your article, very reassuring to those who can relate!! Stress is definitely an illness that needs more recognition! I for one has tried going on stress leave and unfortunately my doctor wont give me more than 2 weeks at a time which basically screws up getting any EI. You are fortunate enough to have a doctor be supportive. I have a feeling because many people are abusing this type of leave for personal reasons that that is why doctors are hesitant to give the full amount right of way...I guess my question is how else can you go about getting the note you deserve?

North Face Coupon on March 09, 2012:

Very well written post. It will be beneficial to everyone who employess it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – i will definitely read more posts.

Carolina Collins on November 08, 2011:

I am at a loss of gratitude words for your article Ria! I am 49 years old and currently on a second week of "depression" leave from my job. I live in the USA and my doctors assure me that my job is protected while I am leave for up to 12 weeks. I plan to read your post as often as needed during my stay home. I do want to go back to my job, it pays well and it is very close to my house (walking distance). My internal doctor referred me to a psychologist which I am seeing weekly (out of pocket) and now I will start seeing a psychiatrist also, what the hell I even contacted an astrologer for backup support --but I must say that your article has been the most "enlightening". I hope to soon stop feeling weak and this sense of guilt for taking off. For three years, I have been in a tough position at work; I was placed in a position without applying for it based on the fact that the Company needed my skill set in that post. I was never able to fancy the department manager but always did my best performance. My reviews were always better than proficient rating at the the top 20% of the whole department. Unfortunately my boss passed me for a promotion, hired a person with an amazing resume but no skills and I was expected to train her, something I did not do, after all I must honor myself. Things got really bad for the last six months and I know deep inside that stepping aside is the best route to follow, I plan to fight for my job and return. Ria, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Bob Maelo on October 31, 2011:

nice post.. i even had problems with my stress due to work load in my office. I couldn't give time to my family because of tiredness. Eventually i found about a fitness center in Norcross G.A which deals in cardia, yoga and nutrition, which really made me relaxed. I am now energetic and don't even feel tired with all the work load. All thanks to the fitness center!! have a look at it..

Jason on October 29, 2011:

Thank you for the post. I am went to the doctor today,(Saturday) but because he is not my primary and only a walkin clinic he said he couldn't help. I have an appointment Tuesday so I will try then. I am just so stressed, my wife left to stay with her mom and dad until she knows what she wants. I have a house in foreclosure and I work at a prison constantly doing overtime, instead of getting paid they flex me off an extra day.

Rob on October 05, 2011:

Thanks very much. I am just on my way to ask my Doctor to put me on stress leave. I lost my wife in January and everything has mounted up on me, and the job change I had to take is crushing me. Your hub has convinced me that I am not just weak, and that I need to do something.

Nina on September 22, 2011:

Ria, it's as if you took the words right out of my head. I'm on stress leave right now myself. That was very strong of you to openly express your illness. Even though many have condescending thoughts regarding stress and depression they're ignorant for denying stress being an illness. It slowly creeps up on you and takes over your life.

This has happened to me and I'm very grateful my physician gave me the opportunity to stay home as well. My 12 weeks are up soon and I'm a bit nervous going back. I can't sleep thinking about it.

Norbert, I'm sorry your one of those ignorant people I mentioned before. You have no right judging those who are sick when you have not been through what they have. If you and others claim your just as stressed then by all means why don't you pay a visit to your own doctor and take a leave for yourself. This is a benefit that is provided to employees by their employer and obviously if companies and the state are allowing such leaves to take place then it obviously is a pressing issue. But your so hell bend on telling Ria what to do you have lacked to educate yourself of what stress really is and what it can do to a person. I'm not talking about the simple stress you are referring to. I'm talking about the nervous ticks, the panic attacks, the constant crying, fear of living and being in emotional and physical pain most of the day type of stress. The type of stress that leave your hands shaking and it's as if there isn't enough oxygen around you which eventually leads you to hyperventilation and even more panic. Ever feel like your choking trying to catch your breath and your body is shaking? Ever have your entire face go numb and lose recollection of where you are or who you are? Ever had a panic attack in public with people looking at you like your some kind of freak? I didn't think so. Because if you did you wouldn't be trying to make Ria seem as though she's a slacker trying to get the easy way out. Short minded people like you disappoint me. And after all that you expect people who are having severe symptoms of stress to be able to sit in a cubicle for 8-9 hrs a day and be fine? I wish you had enough intelligence to read what you wrote before posting it. But obviously you don't.

No hard feelings, I don't even know who you are Norbert. It you hit a very sensitive spot and I wish you would be a little more considerate of those who are living with this condition day in and day out.

Ria I wish you well!!!!!

Sybill on September 02, 2011:

To ME and AN otherme (who i think are the same person)

EI isn't other people paying... you pay into EI every pay check. welfare is tax money which again you pay into every paycheck and every time you buy something (and for most when you file taxes too). So really if people need time off and turn to gov funding they are entitled too it. they put into that just as much as anyone else so stop ruining around like you put all the money into the EI pot yourself.

whirlybird68 on August 30, 2011:

Hey Greatdane, I am about to start an unplanned stress leave tomorrow. I am just overwhelmed. How long have you been out? i am very concerned about the pay while i am out. I don't know how all of that will pan out.

Greatdane on August 30, 2011:

So I am just in the middle of taking stress leave from my work, the doctor has said 4 weeks but the process with my work is the hardest! Any suggestions?

news on August 05, 2011:

Nice article. Stress from work can be a lot.

Marc Carillet on July 26, 2011:

Hello Great informative Hub! Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of information. I certainly appreciate the effort! keep up the good work!

kelkelpickles on July 05, 2011:

I have been thinking about talking with my doctor for months about a leave of some kind. I'm a single mom, my son has had trouble with school as well as becoming a jr hoarder. I work 3 (yes 3) jobs, and the stress of just work is immense! On top of that I an planning a long distance move, and there is a ton to do for that. On top of the stresses it adds to my everyday stress. And now to add to my to do list I also have a wedding to start planning, my boyfriend/fiancé helps when and where he can, but living between 2 states piles up a whole different set of challenges and stresses! And now once I relocate, I need to worry about finding another job, hopefully near as good as one I have had a over 15 years! Man are my nerves frazzled! I am lucky though, I have more that 8 weeks of sick time on the books, so I know I will have at least a pay check for that long. The bright side to all of this has been seeing your article and knowing that we are not alone, and its ok to need that break! So, thank you!

Extreme Stress on June 12, 2011:

I'm very glad to read that I am not alone. My 12 week stress leave begins next week. I only wish I had the support of my spouse and family. They are only adding to my stress by treating me as though I'm a slacker for not being able to push through the stress. "Every job has stress," that's what I keep being told. They just don't understand the amount of stress that I'm under. It's upsetting because it makes me feel like my health is not important to them. Thank you for sharing your story.

gobo on May 22, 2011:

Positive One, if you work for a company that has has 50 or more employees you can qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act which gives you 12 weeks of leave (paid or unpaid) for a medical condition supported by your primary physician. It's been a couple of months since your post, and I hope you're doing better. Best, Tony

stresspot on April 23, 2011:

Positive One, I wouldn't think that you could get fired for taking stress leave. Which country are you in? In Australia our Dr is a good place to start. I got medical certificates, and simply had sick-leave for the 2 separate weeks I took off, but I imagine that would vary between countries!

Positive One from All over the USA on March 07, 2011:

Will I get fired if I take stress leave? How do you go about it? Do you just need to go to the MD? I have been bullied at work for over 6 months and I would be interested in taking some time off for myself but I can't afford to take it with out some sort of income coming in.


belle on March 06, 2011:

Thanks for the advise Stresspot. I will get an appointment with my doctor and ask if she can maybe refer me to a counselor or therapist.

The thing is I'm scared to be in position of getting sick again because of stress. Last year I have shortness of breath issues and it lasted for months, I got short-term disability as my doctor has sent me to lots of medical test to see what's wrong with me. Most of the test came back negative and some is indeterminate. The last test they did to check my heart condition also came back negative as well then that's when my doctor thought of asking me about my job and my current life situation because most of the time then I always have the symptoms on my way to work and while I`m at work. Then that`s when my doctor said it could`ve stress that`s causing the symptoms.

I did not even think stress can do that to a person. I used to be a 'ME' as well. I used to think I am strong and people letting stress get into their life are weak. But since then I realized you can't really speak for something you don't really know and have experienced at least.

stresspot on March 06, 2011:

I used to be a 'ME'. I thought, "why did people stay in jobs that stress them? Just quit and find one that's good." And then I got some life experience. I have tried to 'not complain' and 'just get on with it' for about a year, and now I'm at a point where I feel like I'm about to break. I need my job, I need to be employed, and I don't want any welfare.

Thanks Ria, I feel like I'm not alone - especially your comments about feeling guilty. That's what's kept me in this position for so long, and its escalated and gotten worse. I wish I hadn't just tried to 'push through' and 'not whinge'. If I'd taken myself more seriously earlier on and taken steps then, I wouldn't have gotten to this point. Lesson learnt: honor myself.

Belle, can you get some support? A counsellor maybe? Simply to provide a space for you to decide what will be the best way to care for yourself in your current circumstances? (I'm going to talk to someone before I decide whether to leave my job or what I'll do: I think I'm a bit depressed, and I want to make the decision well, not based on stress and as an emotional reaction. I've found coubselling helpful in that manner before - helps me get clarity about what I think, instead of being reactionary or feeling out of control.)

Hope it works out for you, belle.

belle on March 05, 2011:

I have been thinking to go on stress leave for weeks now. I have so many issues going on with my life. My dad passed away last month and I am so depressed about many things on his death. Every morning in going to work I experience lots of illness symptoms and I also end up calling in sick. On days that I go to work, I always end my day depressed as well. I work in call center and the job oftentimes than not is stressful. I don't know what to do as I can't lose the job either due to lot of financial issues and responsibilities as well. I know I need time to step back too and get back to my feet. I hope you can give me some advise Ria or anybody who understand my situation as I feel like my depression is getting worst everyday. Thanks!

JustHumza on March 02, 2011:

Ohh very informative article, That's really unfair indeed.

OMG on February 17, 2011:

now i know why the UK is already down the tubes. 12 weeks? no meds? just hang out and clean, garden, projects? no diagnosis? no physical symptoms of stress?

you really really don't have stiff upper lips, you're a whole entire country of whiners

Qom on February 10, 2011:

I really enjoyed reading these! WOW! Thought also that I was becoming weak as the stress continues to build daily! I come home and cry A LOT but also feel if I ask for time off for this I will be looked upon as a failure at my job that I have been doung at this company for 10 years now. 55-60+ hours a week. I am becoming sick and achy all the time. What is better? Seeing my family doctor or psyciatrist/psycologist? I too need to find ME!

Ebby on February 09, 2011:

I am floored by the ignorance of ME and AnotherME! I bet you are the same type of people who sit in your cofortable little houses with white, picket fences and a dog and cat, who have never had to deal with anything more than a bad hair day, yet tell abused and violated women and men to, "Just leave that violent partner, you moron!"

Your ignorance is only outshone by your lack of compassion. Let me don't give a damn about the environment because you drive by yourself; in your own car; to and from work everyday, when there is public transport around. Talk about being a burden on society and the earth! How about you go and take a dose of your own medicine and enjoy the fact that you have a perfect life and just get on with it - or is it that you don't have all you make out and you are too embarrassed or gutless to say so! Either way, jam it up your butt hole! At least we have the balls to admit we aren't coping right now!

Until you have walked a step in someone else's shoes, keep your comments to yourself! What the hell are you doing looking at this anyway if you don't suffer from stress? must be REALLY happy if this is what you do in your free time. Did you just decide, "Hey! I know a great way I can make myself feel better! I'll find a chat place where everyone is so stressed out of their brains, desperate for support or even suicidal. Then I'll think of the best way to kick them while they're down! That way, I will feel very powerful indeed!" Piss Off, Pricks!

maxineblack on January 20, 2011:

I come across your article and I had to hold back the tears ,for I am dealing with the same thing right now.I am not sleeping ,I cant concentrate ,I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep.When I have to go to work I start feeling sick or go into a panick attack.This is crazy,why do we put up with this at work?But I dont know what to do about it ,I cant afford to quit my job.the verbal and emmotional abuse at work is coming from clients familys and the management wont do nothing about this,3 other fulltime girls are in the same boat as me.I am thinking we should all go on stress leave until the management can clean up this mess!pleasegive me some advice!thankyou !

Chrissi on December 22, 2010:

Hey...another ME grow up. You would have to be such a shallow and sad person to write such a vicious comment. Until you've been through the stress of working for arseholes and believe me these days alot of employers are then you can turn around and spew forth this sort of crap. Most employers these days treat you like nothing more than a number and with very little pay. Its very rare these days to work for someone that has empathy and inegrity. So ME and ME No.2 you are the ones in a few years time that will go through a stage of depression its inevitable then you might be capable of walking a mile in someons elses shoes...........

ANother ME on December 11, 2010:

Hey, People don't want stress relief videos or help, they just want 12 weeks paid holidays, isn't it? And another colleague doing your work for you while you are walking your dogs...Quit your job and leave it for someone who really deserve it.

Tanya on November 16, 2010:

I have been off now on stress leave for almost 4 weeks. Working in a call centre and dealing with angry people all day can really take its toll on a person. After my shift, I would come home and curl up in bed not wanting to talk to anyone, my body and mind drained. My health was deteriorating (was catching more colds than normal) and I felt like I was dying alittle inside every day. I contacted my doctor and explained how I felt and was shocked when the tears flowed. He told me that I needed time off. I was reluctant at first to go on stress leave as I figured my co-workers would say I was weak or lazy but I'm to the point now that I don't care anymore. I needed to have my life back even if it was only for a short time. I needed to feel normal again. My mom had died 2 years ago and I had thrown myself into my work. I missed her so much, not a day went by that I didn't whisper "I miss you Mom" Anyhow, now that I have been off I'm getting stronger every day. I started taking vitamin pills and walking. Even though walking was hard at first (sitting down all day is a killer on the body) I feel so much better. I know now that I did the best thing for ME. Thank you Ria for your article and good luck in the future.

nolandd on November 04, 2010:

THank you for this. I am on my third day into a suspension that I got from my inattentiveness. I talked with my boss and asked if there was a possibility of having a atress leave of some kind or sanother. She said that if it is affecting my work to this degree that would be an appropriate move. THe stress is a result of: seperation, housing, transportation access to kids, money, intimidation at work, litterally no friends (they all left me during the seperation), my parents live on the other side of the country and I owe them money. But like you said, clean your house (clean house clean mind) it is a process that grounds you.

MrsHutch on November 03, 2010:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this article. I can't even begin to tell you how closely this relates to me. I have been struggling for almost 6 months after having a miscarriage to get myself together. I keep saying all the same things to myself and I thank you for validating how I feel and making me understand that I am actually a stronger person for asking for help. You are an inspiration!

joanne on October 21, 2010:

This article was so helpful to me today as I am in the exact same boat. I am going to see my doctor today and I feel I have gained the strength to finally step back from this inspirational article. I thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.

Thank you!

Francoise Bonhoure on October 18, 2010:

I have really enjoyed reading your article and see that you could re-orient yourself and be creative in your stress situation. That's great! I admire that!

Jana on October 12, 2010:

Thank you for this advise.

nan on October 04, 2010:

I agree with Ria, ME: You must have no idea how it is when you are going through a really rough patch in life.

I am debating about stress leave, as since I have lost 1 grandmother, and my mother in law, as wellas having a 16 yr old troublemaker, and 3 other children 10 and under. I am having a hard time keeping it together. I am not looking for someone to pay my bills, as I am sure you know you only get 55% of your income on EI, plus the 2 week waiting period. I am sure: ME, that down the road, you will get to a point where you don't know what to do, and you have little to no control about the things happening around you. It's proven that the younger age are going through the typical "mid-life crisis" alot earlier. I think back, and yeah maybe 4 kids is too many, I could get another job (which is not always easy), and hopefully change my life so that I am not so stressed and maybe actually happy with life.....But for the time being, being a single parent, with 4 kids, with their activities, with chores, working all day, and trying to deal with the recent deaths, it is too much to deal with. I have lost all concentration at work, which now I am on probation because I am not focused. I am not doing this on purpose, but if something does not change quickly I could imagine that the next step would be to have me admitted to the psych ward at the hospital and have them keep me the 2 days to again try and regain some control. The real pathetic part, is that my job makes it so difficult on me, they are now picking on me, and threatening to fire me, also that I cannot go to my dr (he closes before I am done work) and I am having trouble finding a psychiatrist that can take me in the evening and then to find a babysitter for my kids, so I can try to raise them and stay sane.

I feel for everyone going through much of the same thing, I do know that taking that step back is probably the best thing anyone this stressed out can do.

skim on September 27, 2010:

wow, thank you for this article. I am going through so much stress due to my boss at work. She is verbally abusive and impossible. I am nearly scared to go to work everyday. I want to take sick leave but don't know how to approach this. I know my doctor would give me a note but where did you go to seek employement insurance?

Islandgirl on September 20, 2010:

I just happened upon your article, and can say that I've been there too! I had the same concerns as you did with taking the leave; I used to even scoff at stress leave thinking that they should "just be able to handle it". Now I know better. My stress was entirely work related, at a job that I'd been at for 7 years. Due to the stress my health began deteriorating, I had constant panic/anxiety attacks and there were days that I'd be in tears even before walking in the door to work. I wish I had done it sooner - I was put off work for 4 months, used the time to go back to school and find myself a new job (although that took longer). If you legitimately need it, take it! You won't regret it! I hope you are continuing to recover well and are stress-free!

BalanceTree on September 02, 2010:

Hi Ria, thanks for sharing your personal story.. At first I was drawn to it b/c of the title, then because we share the same unique first name! I happen to have started a site based on stress relief called Balance Tree ( There are guided videos on stress relief (breathing, relaxation) amongst other things.. Let me know if you think that stuff is at all helpful or something you would consider.. Thanks for any feedback and best of luck :)

Ria Bridges (author) from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on August 26, 2010:

To whoever this "ME" person is... I didn't pick a crappy job. I actually liked that job a lot before the company closed down. But I was going through various health and emotional problems, in addition to job and financial stress, and I needed some time to step back and re-evaluate my life. I don't think that somebody else should work for me. I was quite happy to return to the job for the time that was left. I paid my bills then out of my own savings, and didn't end up claiming EI. Re-evaluating my life is exactly what I took a few months off to do.

And if everyone were to follow your advice of quitting and finding something else to do, then there'd be far more people claiming EI and welfare money from the government, which is essentially what you're deriding when you said that I wanted somebody else to work and pay my vills for me. Jobs aren't always easy to come by. It's great that you have a low-stress job that you love that gives you a lot of money. More power to you. But last time I checked, you are not me, and not in the same position I was in and am in now.

No offense, whoever you are, but perhaps you should avoid making baseless accusations regarding situations you don't know much about. Your circumstance is not everyone's else's circumstance, and your methods will not work for everyone.

ME on August 25, 2010:

wow, so you picked a crappy job and cant handle it anymore so you think someone else should work for you and pay your bills. If you are stressed out at work and don't like your job quit and go find something you like to do. I love my job and have fun at work every day. I also make a lot of money with very little stress. People who take stress leave need to reevaluate their lives.

k-la on August 13, 2010:

wow that was really amazing. thank you very much.

Darcy on July 13, 2010:

Hey Ria thanx for writing about this. I am in that boat right now.. waiting for a Dr. apptment and all. If you could.. can you add me msn i'd like to beable to chat wit you.

im dimmer44 at hotmail

rellu on June 07, 2010:

hi nice advice

ofmelancholy on May 22, 2010:

wow, nice hub, it was long though.

nickii on May 19, 2010:

your entitled to 3 months of fmla a year..when president clinton was in office he passed this you can't lose your job..a lot of people don't know they're rights or about can have your psyc. put u on stress leave under fmla!" the key to taking a stress leave is to always see a psyc.not your regular family doctor

peacefulparadox on May 15, 2010:

Stress should be a valid medical condition and therefore one should be able to get "stress leave". Unfortunately, many people (and including some doctors) do not consider it as medical condition, because it is not listed in their "book of diseases". However, in reality stress may be the underlying cause for many physical diseases. Stress does this by degrading your own body's immune system, thereby making it susceptible to diseases and rendering it not being able to repair itself. That is stress is considered an "hidden disease" because it is masked by the "real disease" that had overtaken your body due to the weaken immune system caused by stress.

I wish US doctors give "stress leave" too. I think other countries such as Canada and Scandinavian countries are more progressive in this kind of thing.

WeakvsFire on May 11, 2010:

I'm so glad I stumbled upon this hub since I have never heard of stress leave. Oh I should note that i'm in the US. If it's not here it certainly should be. My mom told me fairly recently that my older sister was so stressed out that she got shingles; however given she takes care of 3 kids too she couldn't have a long stress leave if it did exist here. If nothing else this hub is a great promotion for having your own personal doctor, which I need to look into establishing.

jay on March 28, 2010:

It's also a consideration to the employee in allowing stress leave...

michewis23 on March 28, 2010:

Our manager here in my country usually allows stress leave because how can an employee perform better if they are not feeling well...

scheng1 on February 16, 2010:

I can't imagine any boss in Singapore allowing stress leave. Most people here work long hours, even without extra pay just to keep the rice bowl.

Jewshavemorefun on January 15, 2010:

Hi just wanted to say I really enjoyed your hub. I had to take a few months off work due to depression and stress last year. I'm completely with you on feeling like a slacker for not being able to power through at a young age(I'm 21) but I also agree that it can be the stronger option to take a step back for a while to sort yourself out. glad you made the most of your time off and were productive-it took me a few weeks to get even close to that.

Chelsea on November 18, 2009:

It is great to read up on what others have done in terms of stress leave. I myself, am 26 and work for a company ...if you would even call it that, that is absolutely insane. There are three of us that work in the office, the owner, his girl friend and myself. I tend to do all the work as the boss and his girlfriend have a "habit" that they like to do at work. Yes that's right...a drug habit...not just smoking a joint but crack cocaine. The girlfriend will go into the bathroom in this trailer i work in and sit in there for hours getting high. When I walk to the back I can smell the smoke as she smokes while she is in there as well. I have talked to the labour board and WCB regarding these actions and they say there is nothing they can do for me. I just have to either quit and be paid a weeks pay as I have not been there a full year so a week is all i would be entitled to, or stick it out until I find a new job. however tat is the problem. I have been sending my resumes out every day for the past 2 months and still nothing. Not only is this habit bad for them, it is bad for me and the company. The woman goes through mood swings like you would not believe, throws papers in my face, swears and yells at me. Obviously it's due to her habit, but the owner (her boyfriend) will yell at her. Surprisingly enough he is a calm man despite his habit. The company has bounced pay cheques and just today gave me a replacement cheque to cover the bounced payroll, but my bank is now holding it for 5 days as the last one had bounced. I'm stressed to the max, as each week they say they will have to close the doors and everyone will be out of a job. I come home and I take it all out on my poor boyfriend, i yell and scream out of frustration, i can't eat or sleep and when I am at work I get massive migrains. I am hoping that when I see the doctor on Friday he may be able to get me on stress leave as I really do not know how much more I can take.

I have never worked in an environment like this my entire life. N'or would I ever had started there if I knew all that went on and how the company was run. I am completely down on myself and feel like hiding in a hole, I feel as though the company is on my shoulders when all I was hired to do was the sales end, answer call, place orders. now it seems like every thing the lady doesn't want to do she throws my way, she gets paid more than me and she is never there. I haven't been trained properly so I am forced to figure every thing out on my own. Just writing this i am getting chocked up as this stress from this job has now affected my home life and every thing around me. I use to be a happy person, loved life, not worrying and now I have turned into someone I can't even stand to be around. I feel if I am not able to get stress leave that I just may end up in the looney bin and that right there says it all.

A.Majo on October 08, 2009:

Thanks, Ria. I did go back to my regular doctor who is only a physician's assistant. She did extend my leave for another week but then referred me to a psychiatrist for depression, but what about other health problems, anyway, the psychiatrist said that he could only give me off for a couple of more weeks because he does not have a history with me! I wanted to atleast be off until the end of FMLA, which is for 12 weeks. I am now depressed just thinking about having to go back so soon. I am thinking that I may need another doctor.

kartika damon from Fairfield, Iowa on September 26, 2009:

Excellent article - unfortunately here in the U.S. we not only have not universal heath care plan but have no stress leave. In fact, the more stress worker's are under they less time they can usually take off - I'm ready for stress leave myself! Kartika

Ria Bridges (author) from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on September 16, 2009:

A Majo, I saw my regular family doctor to obtain my time off. It seems strange that for something as serious as heart enlargement that you would only be given a week off for stress leave. It might be worth making another appointment after that week to inform your doctor how you're doing, and if you feel you need to, to ask about further time off to get your health back together.

Best of luck with this!

A.Majo on September 16, 2009:

I am wondering what type of doctor is it best to see to obtain stress leave. I have all of these ailments going on with me, heart enlargement, swollen feet, chest pains, restlessness, etc. My physician assistant has given me permission to be off for atleast a week, however I am wanting atleast 12 weeks as you have. Did you see a psychiatrist or a medical doctor

Julie on August 27, 2009:

Wow, I am on day 3 into my stress leave and just found this article. I've been struggling to put how I feel into words and your article said it all. My biggest struggle right now is feeling guilty that I should also be able to just get my shit together, just like every other time in the past. And knowing that my husband still has to go to work every day while I take this time. He is fabulous about it, very supportive and encouraging. Which ironically makes me feel even more guilty because he's such a great guy! blahhhh I guess i had some verbal diahhera built up there :)

Laura on August 23, 2009:

Hi Ria, I found your article well written and very helpful. Thank you. I'm planning on seeing a doctor tomorrow to discuss taking a stress leave, and can completely relate to what you have written. I'm causing myself more stress just thinking about the "process" of going on leave. As well as all the negative thoughts and self-critisms. Seeing that I'm not alone helps a lot. Thanks again and all the best to you.


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