Q. I have become acutely aware of just how much my job takes from me emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically. I also get very frustrated when I have a day off and work calls to see if I can work extra. Really? Why do employers not value their employees having self time? — Emily

A. This will always be a perplexing reality until management wakes up from their prolonged slumber and faces the problem of not just burning out their employees but in some cases, “early death of their employees.”
The employee must take some responsibility and “just say no” or on your day off, do not answer the phone; it is your day off!!
Days off and vacations are just what they mean. No explanation needed. They are vital for good health.
It is not life threatening if on occasion you pick up an extra shift or stay over for part of a shift if you are prepared to do it. Most of us have done that, probably many times. But when it just doesn’t work, say no. AND remember you do not have to give a three minute explanation on why you can’t do it.
Emily, what would happen if you said, “No I can’t work extra, I will be taking care of myself?” Then when you return to work, after your day/days off you will be rested and ready to give 100% of yourself.
Self care is greatly underrated!! People can usually list all their “work related” activities before their “taking care of me” activities. The Human Doing phenomena seems to supersede “Human Being.”
Emily it sounds like you are feeling pressured to work beyond your emotional, mental and often physical limits. If you haven’t already experienced some health issues, you will. The body cannot withstand constant motion and mental stress. Notice if you are having headaches, stomach distress, pain in your joints, insomnia, etc. Don’t take Tylenol or Ibuprofen; noticing an increased frequency and not take it seriously. The body is sneaky; if we aren’t paying attention, it will up the ante on us. Intermittent headaches become daily, chronic insomnia will take a toll on our mental and emotional health
Also look at your finances; how much do you really need to work. Do you need to pick up overtime shifts? Remember, the less you buy, the less money you need to pay for it.
Emily, take an inventory of your life. Look at your physical health. Keep a journal. Notice when you are not feeling well and see what is happening with your work life.
Sometimes we do not get a “do-over” and our health may not recover. Value you and see if you can make some changes.

Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City

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