This article will help you to ask for some extra leave from work without giving specific reasons.
A few months ago, I started feeling –off. Not sick, exactly; just out of sorts. I was exhausted, and had no energy to get things done. I was overwhelmed with work, and didn’t know where to start.
I spent a whole week doing nothing but watching 90s sitcoms and catching up on my work. Then I went grocery-shopping.
After that, I finally got around to doing things I’ve been meaning to do for ages, like filing my taxes and paying bills online.
And the next morning, for the first time ever, I woke up without any desire to throw my computer out the window.
Mental health is now considered a normal part of everyday life at work. Some employers even allow their employees to take “mental health” or “personal time” (which may include vacation) every week.
Being self-employed means that I don’t have an employer who has any say in whether I take time off or not. So I decided to give myself permission to take a few days off without having to worry about losing my job.
However, for most employees, asking for time off requires someone else’s permission, and many (55%) worry that they may get into trouble if they ask for time off. While stigmas surrounding mental illness are slowly changing, their presence can discourage people from seeking help when they need it.
Here’s how to ask for time off without making your employer feel uncomfortable, without compromising your personal life, and without causing them to doubt your commitment.
Consider Your Company Culture
First, take stock at how open-minded your business is. It all comes down to the culture from within.
If so, then you’re probably working for an organization where people value transparency and flexibility.
If you’re worried that asking for a “mental health” leave might be perceived negatively by management, opt for the classic “sick-leave” excuse instead. You shouldn’t feel bad about taking a break from work when you need one.
“Just tell them you’re under the weather,” advises Alison Green, author of “Ask A Manager.” “They don’t need to hear your specific symptoms.”
Don’t be selfish. Make sure your teammates understand why you’re not going to come into work.
If, however, your manager and the culture at your workplace don’t support taking time off, then you might want to consider asking for a mental heath day. You definitely shouldn’t feel pressured to give any details.
Point Out the Benefits
You could also say, “I know I need to be at my best to contribute to our success, so if there was any way I could take a break today, I’d appreciate it.”
It doesn’t really matter whether you think it will help or not; it just matters that you genuinely want to improve yourself and feel confident that taking some time off will allow you to return stronger than ever.
Make a Work Plan
As you’d expect, if you want to take some time off, you should prepare an excuse that makes it easy for your employer to say yes. “Make it hard for them” means don’t just ask for time off; tell them why you really deserve it.
This may imply that you should let your coworkers know about your plans, but don’t go into detail. Just explain that you’ve taken some time off for personal reasons.
Prepare for Any Questions
While asking for time off for a mental break is slowly gaining acceptance, managers may still react negatively when they hear requests for time off. They may think that employees are trying to avoid their responsibilities.
You shouldn’t feel obligated to give detailed answers if you don’t want too. However, you should be aware that your boss might pose follow up question. “You should be able to anticipate the types of things he/she would say,” Byrd adds. “And you should be able to anticipate his/her response.”
You don’t need to be dramatic about the situation to get a day off from work. It’s a reasonable demand, and with record number of young people leaving their jobs because of mental illness, surely better than allowing the problem to go unaddressed.
If You’re a Manager, Model Good Behavior for Yourself
Ryan Bonnici shared his experiences with depression and anxiety with his coworkers so they could understand him better. He told them about his therapy sessions and encouraged them to seek help if needed.
He took a mental break, which made him feel better. As a result, others were able to talk to him about their struggles.
Take your mental health days when they come up.
Whatever helps you relax might not necessarily help your mental health. For example, going to yoga class, having a good meal with an old friend, or binge watching TV shows could be relaxing but they wouldn’t necessarily improve your mental health.
So use it wisely by putting restrictions on yourself. For example, take your email off your cell phones. Your coworkers won’t be calling you with minor issues if you’re at home with food poisoning. And being fully disconnected from everything will benefit you and your career in the long run.
Think About Why You Want to Get Better at Something
It might feel like a mental health month every month, but if that’s how it feels then take some time to think about why you’ve reached this point so frequently.
“What is causing this? Is it stress, anxiety, depression, family issues, work issues, or something else?” Byrd says. “Understanding what the underlying cause is can really help you figure out how to get better.”
A mental health appointment might not fix everything, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be worth exploring whether seeing a therapist would make things easier.