Ask a Life Coach: Stress

Dear Jackie Lee

I have a lot of stress in my life right now and I am using a lot of my sick days because of it.  I am going through a nasty divorce and I come to work and my manager is constantly yelling at me or putting me down.  I just can’t take much more and feel like something is about to give.  I know I’m on the verge of a breakdown and don’t know what to do.


Dear M.J.

I am so sorry you are going through this. Divorce is never easy and when you add work stress on top of it, things just gets worse.  It sounds to me like you haven’t taken any time to heal and you are just going through the motions – but this just isn’t working.  When you work in a Government job, it is very important to know the steps to deal with stress.  If you don’t deal with the stress and the underlying cause of the stress, you may find yourself using up all your leave on sick days here and there, and before you know it, there you have no more leave in the bank. When that happens, the stress just gets worse – not to mention the fact that using up sick days does not look good when trying for internal job opportunities.

Your first step is to talk to your Union Rep. They can tell you what your rights are and discuss possible options with you.

Divorce is a loss and like a death, you have to grieve.  If you are not able to cope and it is affecting your work performance, you may need to discuss with your physician and negotiate some time off work to deal with the trauma and get your affairs in order. Not dealing with things can compromise your mental health and using up all of your sick days sporadically can be problematic.  There are many options to explore including getting some counselling through the EAP, using some sick leave or vacation days (without depleating your leave banks), medical Employment Insurance if things get really bad, etc. The most important thing to do is to talk with your Union before your leave banks are empty and you are out of options.

Time off can give you a break from your manager and workplace stresses and help you to get back to normal.  Use the time to see a counsellor or a life coach, take up a craft or hobby, go online and learn a new skill.  Come back refreshed and ready to work.

When you are ready to come back to work, schedule a meeting with your manager and let him/her know that you are ready and willing to come back to work.  If the inappropriate behaviour by your manager starts up again it is time to move on.  Start applying for other internal positions within the Government.  Talk to Human Resources and your Union Local to find out what your options are in dealing with your manager.

In life, your health must come first.  Take care of yourself,

Jackie Lee

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