Tips for assessing taking a SICK Day

Am I sick? Am I not sick? Can I take this day off work? How hellish will the next couple of days be for me if I take this day off?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who asks these questions when I’m laying in bed trying to assess if I’m sick enough to stay home from work??

We all, at least I think I can speak for most of us who grew up in the United States, grew up with the thought that being sick or staying home sick from work or school was a sign of weakness. That people were going to talk about how much of a slacker we are because we had to stay home sick. So we were forced to go to school, sick, getting all of our classmates sick and likely prolonging the sickness within our body because we weren’t taking care of ourselves. We aren’t taught to take a body scan, to listen to our body to take care of ourselves and take time to get better when we need it.

I’d say that within the last few years and even more so within the last few months, I’ve changed the way that I’ve thought about taking sick time and taking care of my body vs. pushing through and going to work when I’m not feeling 100%.

What good am I doing with myself if I’m pushing myself beyond my limits of wellbeing to go to work, meet with people 1:1, perhaps getting them and my colleagues sick as well vs. staying at home, maybe getting the essentials completed on my own time and then feeling 100% the next day and being able to put my best self forward. Whenever my colleagues come in to work and share that they’re not feeling well, I always encourage them to go home and get some rest because they’re not doing themselves or anyone else any good by pushing through the pain.

I think most of the time, when we’re really sick, we know and we know that working is out of the question for the day. When your throat hurts or you’re throwing up or other equally unpleasant bodily functions. Other times, the feelings are more subtle. You might just not feel right, maybe achy, a bit unsure about what’s going on in your body but you have a feeling that you’re about to get sick. These are the days where, I think, taking a day to rest is the best thing to do for your body. There’s a feeling that you get on these days, that for me, have gone unnoticed in the past and I’m changing that to make sure I’m feeling into my body and really listening to the messages.

Here are some ways that I assess whether or not I’m able to go to work:

Take a shower

I know that I always feel better after a good shower, especially when I’m feeling sick. Some people might like baths. I don’t because I don’t like my bath tub but that might change when i get a new tub or move into a new house with an amazing tub. I like to envision the water as a cleansing water washing over me, washing away the negativity and bad germs as I breathe deeply with every was that I take. I usually try to stay in the shower for a good 5 minutes if I can. Feeling clean and putting on a new outfit always makes me feel even just a bit better.

Do a full body scan

I like to complete this in the shower because I feel like the water brings out feelings that normally go unnoticed. Start with one part of your body and just feel into that part of the body. What feels normal to you (because we’re all different) does this part of my body feel abnormal or weird? What’s weird about it? Did I easily get exhausted by taking my shower and feel like I ran a marathon (I’ve never run a marathon and I mean the feeling of being out of breath or that you used a lot of effort to finish your shower, more so than normal).

Sometimes, I like to scan as I’m stretching, if I feel well enough to stretch. See how I’m feeling in a down dog or forward fold. Then I ask some questions: am I more congested or do I feel clear? Can I hold the pose or is it stress inducing? Stretching can help me feel really good, especially when I’m feeling achy.

Assess brain capacity

This is a big one for me. Sometimes, this doesn’t kick in until I start working because I can understand how slowly my brain is working. I can tell that speaking is difficult and it takes a while to understand simple things that my hubs says to me. When I’m at work and this happens, I realize that I can’t concentrate on my client and I mess up on my emails more during these times of foggy-ness. I know that I’m not going to be doing anyone any favors when I’m feeling this fog because I’m not doing my best work. I acknowledge it, and then go home if I’m already at work but assessing before work is the best idea because you’ll save yourself some time and frustration by going into work.

Realize that your work can wait

We all are go-getters! We like to get our shit done on time - early if we can. So when sickness creeps in, I can start to feel and overwhelming sense of anxiety creeping in about all the things I have on my calendar that day and how much I’m going to have to get done the next day instead of focusing on my own well-being. I get all caught up in my head (can you relate?).

I lay in bed, asking Josh my questions (without expecting answers) so that I can assess if I can take the day off work without getting too bogged down in my work the next day. When the other tips are assessed, they let me know that I’m really sick and need to take the day off to get better. I never regret taking a sick day and almost always feel better when I return to work.

Wrapping it up

We all get the occasional cold or flu. My encouragement is always to take the time that you need to get better rather than pushing through to go to work and get your work done. I know that if I go to work not feeling well, I’m doing my employer or my clients a disservice because I’m not fully present. I’m usually thinking about laying on the couch, snuggling my dogs rather than getting my work done. That’s when it is time to go home.

Now I want to hear from you - What are some practices that you have when it comes to taking a sick day? How do you access how you’re feeling? How were you taught about taking sick days off of work or school? Write a comment below to share your thoughts. I’m so excited to hear from you!

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