Managing workplace stress and burnout - 5 work related issues you should never feel guilty about

  • Guilt related to work may result in overworking and stress. 
  • According to a Flux Trends report, only 40 percent of employees feel supported by their manager amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • So in light of these challenges, you shouldn't feel guilty about taking time off work, telling your boss you're sick, having a lunch break, having an off day, or not working outside work hours.  

What is it about the workplace environment that has even the most confident of humans quaking in their shoes? Guilt attacks us all at the most inopportune times, and for reasons that have nothing to do with you making a mistake.

With guilt may come overworking and stress. The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the different ways we work and, as such, been the root of many stressful situations. 

READ MORE: Women risk losing decades of workplace progress due to Covid-19 – here’s how companies can prevent that

According to Liberty's Flux Trends report, the impact of the pandemic has seen only 47 percent of workers say their manager is attuned to their wellbeing, and fewer (40 percent) still actually feel supported by their manager. The report shows that workplace stress has a direct impact on mental health.

So in light of the overall stress the unprecedented pandemic brings, here are five things you should never (or stop) feel guilty about:

Taking time off from work

Because if you don’t, you’ll end up suffering from work burnout. I think we’ve become so enslaved to the culture of having to work all the time that wanting a day off feels like we’re committing a crime.

It’s important to take leave though because you need the time to yourself, time to spend with your family and time to do things that help with your personal growth.   

Telling your boss you’re sick

There are two types of people you find at work; those who call in sick, and those who make everyone else suffer because they are potential death traps who can infect everyone with just one cough.

Okay, there’s one more type - those that fake being sick. Which is why it might seem like that your boss might not believe you when you call in sick.  

But remember, your health is more important than your job, as you can’t do your job properly if you’re not feeling 100%.

READ MORE: Superwoman Syndrome – it’s time to ditch the quest for perfection, here’s why

Taking a proper lunch break

A colleague confessed to me that even taking a 10-minute lunch break feels like she’s breaking some sort of rule, even though she has one of the best and understanding bosses on the floor.

It’s hard not to feel like you have to stay glued to your desk to get more work done, and often many of us end up having lunch at our desks. 

However, a change of scenery and stepping out of the office can do wonders – both in terms of getting more energy to continue being more productive and providing some respite from the hum-drum of the daily office grind. 

Not working after hours

How many of you are tempted to check your e-mail outside work hours? Better yet, how many of you, after checking your e-mail decide that you need to respond to that e-mail immediately or else?

Unless you’re being paid overtime, and unless it’s part of your contract then there’s no reason to work after hours (Writing this sentence is hard, because it feels like I’m being a traitor. See what guilt does?).

We know that there might be extenuating circumstances that require attention, but if it happens more frequently than not, then ask yourself this: when will you have downtime for yourself?

Also, according to, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that the normal working time allowed is 45 hours per week. That’s technically a nine hours a day, although it does differ slightly from company to company, which is why you should check what your contract says.

READ MORE: How to own screwing up at work (without getting you fired)

Having an off day

It happens to the best of us. There are days when everything flows by super speedily, and your levels of productivity are flying through the roof. Other times, work is an effort and you can’t even get through that report that’s due.

There could be a million reasons that you’re not operating at your best (problems with a boyfriend, a close friend or you could simply be stressed about a family issue), but the point is that it’s human to have a day when you’re not feeling at your best.

If you find yourself feeling less than productive for more than a day or so, consider taking some time off. You’re better off spending a few days away from work than forcing yourself to go into work and producing work that’s subpar at best.

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