WHEN was the last time you took a mental health sick day?
For most of us, that answer is probably “never” – at least, we’ve never admitted to taking a day off for a mental issue.
1 Can’t face going into work even though you’re not physically ill? That’s OK – take a mental health sick dayCredit: Getty – Contributor
When it comes to colds and minor ailments, however, we’re way more willing to call our bosses to beg for a duvet day.
But we should be doing the reverse, a top doc says.
Dr Arun Thiyagarjan, medical director at Bupa Health Clinics, told The Telegraph that stress is a more legitimate reason for taking time off than having a cold.
“Excusing all the sniffles, it is perfectly fine to go into work while suffering from a cold,” he said.
If you’ve got something like flu or diarrhoea, then yes, you should be in bed – but you don’t have to put yourself in quarantine for a cold.
But when it comes to stress, you’ve got to take action.
“If left, stress can become a much bigger mental health problem which can lead to long-term illness.”
He also went onto say that there’s no great prowess attached to never taking sick days.
It doesn’t mean you’re any healthier than the next person, it simply means that you’ve got a better immune system when it comes to common viruses.
And, of course, people who don’t prioritise their mental health may still come to work while suffering from chronic stress.
Stress is more dangerous than you think
It can promote certain diseases, including cancer, lung disease and cirrhosis of the liver.
It can also ruin your teeth and gums
A 2012 study linked stress to gum disease, caused by people grinding their teeth while they sleep.
Researchers found that people who were most stressed about finances were most at risk from dental problems.
Causes heart problems
Stress hormones can also increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels – forcing your heart to work faster and increasing your blood pressure.
According to the American Institute of Stress, incidents of heart attacks and sudden death spike after major stress-inducing incidents like hurricanes and earthquakes.
And if you didn’t have a cold before, you might after you’ve become clinically stressed because it can weaken your immune system.
Signs you’re on the verge of a burnout
Last month, the World Health Organisation officially added “burn out” to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
The WHO defines burn out as being caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Here are the key signs you could be on the verge of burning out:
An unsettled stomach and poor digestion
High blood pressure
Constantly thinking about work when at home
A snappy and irritable mood
Never having enough time for work deadlines, projects, family or even yourself
There are loads of reasons why you might be suffering a burnout, and they’re usually to do with work.
A lack of control over your schedule or workload, unclear job expectations, or dysfunctional workplace dynamics are all key factors in workplace stress.
If you find yourself spending most of your time thinking about or doing work stuff, and if you feel isolated at work, then you’re also more likely to experience stress.
It’s not simply a case of having too much to do at work – it could be that you’re doing boring stuff every day and your boss excludes you from conversations.
So watch out for what is triggering your stress and try to nip it in the bud.
And if you need to take a mental health day, do. You’ll only end up taking more days off if you leave it.
In the past three years, 45 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety and depression, according to the UK Statistics Authority.
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