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Should You Call In Sick With A Broken Heart?

By David Saunders | UPDATED: 07:28, 07 January 2020

Going through a serious break-up can be one of the most mentally taxing and difficult periods of your life. Heartbreak can throw your emotions into chaos and leave you struggling to cope, but is this reason enough to take time away from work?

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After a major split, you can often experience similar intense emotions as when a family member or friend dies. The difference is that your co-workers may not be as understanding – less emotionally intelligent bosses may brand you as someone who lets their personal life affect their work. There have been reports of some Japanese companies offering their employees “heartache leave”, giving workers one or two days off to cope with a break-up, but this is far from the norm and the debate continues on whether taking time off to mend a broken heart is worthwhile, and acceptable.

Gerard Barnes, CEO of depression and anxiety treatment specialists Smart TMS, offers his advice on calling in sick for heartbreak:

Enduring the time following a break-up is particularly challenging, and whilst a break-up may allow you to learn more about yourself and make you stronger in the long term, in the short-term it can have potentially devastating effects.

On the one hand, work can actually represent a lifeline, something else to focus on whilst you allow your brain to process your emotions and come to terms with the situation over weeks or months. Your co-workers can also provide valuable support as confidants or supporters.

For others, the pressure felt in the workplace, the demands of your company and a fear that your co-workers will not understand could further harm your mental state and overwhelm you.

Ultimately, the decision to take time off from work should come down to the individual. You know yourself better than anyone else, but prioritising your mental health should always take top priority, whether this means throwing yourself head first into work, or taking a few days to process what has happened.”

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