Taking time off from work

By Kurt Stapleton

For some people this is a no-brainer. For others it’s difficult to do. I fall into the 2nd category.

I’ve been working since I was 16 yrs. old and I’ve only taken a handful of vacations in that time. When I was younger I called in sick a lot just to get out of working and that had negative consequences. I soon realized how much it affected my paycheck and my relationships at work. After a while I just equated missing work meant negative consequences and therefore did not take any time off. Except for the occasional sick day or rare vacation. This took a toll on my mental and physical health. I was literally afraid to call in sick. I had it in my head that if I called in I was hurting everyone at work and my family financially.

And nowadays I am working 2 jobs to be able to do the work I love. This was my choice and I knew what I was getting into. I work during the day and then when that job is done I work during the evening and weekends, not giving myself a break sometimes.

It wasn’t until recently that I found myself in a position that actually embraces me taking time away from work for my mental health. This is so foreign to me. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. They want me to take a day off if I feel overwhelmed?? What?

But after taking a day off here and there and seeing coworkers doing it and seeing how much better they feel afterwards, I’m embracing it.

Taking a break from work has been so valuable to me as it allows me to reconnect with my wife and son, and focus on them. Without being attached to my phone.

It also allows me to reflect on myself and where I’m mentally. I’ll go for a walk and do a mental health check in. “How are you feeling about everything? Do you still enjoy what you’re doing or are you getting burned out?” These questions allow me to focus on myself and where I’m at mentally.

I never understood what a “mental health day” meant until recently. I get it now.

Going on vacation does not bring on fear and anxiety either. I used to get very anxious when a vacation was coming up, knowing that I will have tons of work to catch up on when I get back, that I felt it wasn’t worth going on vacation. Work was always on my mind while I was away too. “What is happening there? Did that thing get taken care of? What if they screw it up and it’s a mess when I get back? How will I get caught up from this?” Those thoughts would actually ruin my time off. I can now focus 100% on my family and enjoy the time away from work.

Work-a-holic? I think I held that title at one point. I am trying to find balance with work and personal life. Keeping them separate, and giving each of them the time they