Does having to pick up the phone and call off work make you feel sick to your stomach with anxiety? Well, you are not alone.
Experiencing anxiety when calling in sick is actually something many people deal with and now with Omicron spreading like wildfire, people are having to make that call a lot more often.
Testing is no longer regularly available and doctors have emphasized the importance of staying home.
“Anyone who is ill should stay home, even if symptoms are mild, and employers should re-instate work-from-home arrangements wherever possible,” Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Kristjan Thompson said on Dec. 29, 2021.
Nothing has changed for 2022 and diligence is still of high importance but calling in sick for something minor can be tough for some, even when working from home.
Winnipegger Tyson Turner has been working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic began. That doesn’t stop the anxiety when having to make the call.
“Unless it is a really bad morning, I will usually ‘call in’ for the morning, and then re-evaluate at lunchtime and call in for the rest of the day or try and work for some of the afternoon.”
According to one Winnipeg psychologist, this anxiety to call in sick is likely related to social anxiety.
“Many people who experience this may likely also experience other fears of letting people down or confrontation or general fear of negative evaluation,” said director of Clinic Psychology Manitoba Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman.
Turner says he has a very understanding manager that has said, “When you’re sick, you’re sick,” but he says that can be hard to believe sometimes.
“I feel like every time I use sick time it just shows that I’m not dependable and can hinder future career growth opportunities.”
Additionally, there may also be a lingering feeling of guilt when having to take the day off work, especially with the current staffing shortages.
On Jan. 6, the city’s head of the Emergency Services Unit, Jason Shaw, said there are currently 351 active cases of COVID-19 among city staff, including 76 in transit and 85 in fire paramedic services.
“Even having diagnosed health issues and an understanding employer doesn’t make the guilt go away,” said Turner.
“I have an exceptional supervisor and feel like I am letting her down.”
Abdulrehman says employers can help employees who are struggling with this anxiety by providing assurance that the calls are OK, making email sick days more acceptable, and providing plans with better psychological coverage.
“People impacted by this may use this awareness to look into what else they may be avoiding and see if social anxiety is something they need to address,” said Abdulrehman.