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How To Be Productive When You’re Home On a Sick Day

How To Be Productive When You’re Home On a Sick Day


Ha! Do you have to be productive when you’re home for a sick day? Perhaps I should write a post about how to get yourself well, how to take it easy, give yourself a break. Well, that’s half of what I want to write, but also, this break time, this down time is incubation for some sweet ideas.

My mind is full of things I want to do. But my body is suffering from the fuzzy, messy, painful plague of having a cold. Just a cold. It’s ruining my week. I’m trying to work and trying not to subject anyone to catching this cold. It’s a balance act.

I did see some clients yesterday. We sit across my office from each 0ther and I can easily concentrate on her life and struggles. At the end I say, “I don’t want to hug you because I am coming down with a cold”. Then I felt guilty that I didn’t hug her. Hugs can be an important part of therapy.

With the next client, who told me to take lots of vitamin C, I did hug at the end, and I felt guilty that I might have exposed her to my cold. So that’s the end of hugs for a few days.

I’m sure some readers are saying, “hey, stay home!” Good idea. Today I am staying home. Except for a few sessions with clients who are at a critical time in their therapy or who have called in crisis. I feel pretty good, sharp, with-it enough to see them.

I’m working an easy schedule this week.  Anyone who cancels is rescheduled for next week or later. No squeezing people in. No extra meetings. Go to bed early. Sleep late.

Evidently, most of us work when we are sick. Hilary Clinton as well. I’m sure there is little choice about that when campaigning for president or serving as Secretary of State.

I’m  wondering why most people I know feel terrible, emotionally, when they feel terrible physically.  For those who are self employed, there’s a loss of all those productive hours. For those employed, there are people counting on you, even expecting you to ignore being sick and come to work regardless of the cost of spreading germs to everyone else. Not to mention the stress on your long term health. You have to be very lucky it seems to work in place where you are encouraged to take good care of yourself, to take the time you need to get well.

So, looks like it’s up to you. You have to find the reasons, from another source, or inside yourself, to take a sick day when you need it. I’d say, if you have to do small tasks related to work, or even have a few meetings, to get yourself to rest and recuperate just do it. If you start to feel worse, stop and rest. Listen to your body.

Here are some thoughts to get you through a sick day with your mental health intact, while giving your body the rest it deserves.

  1. Get extra sleep the morning. As soon as you know you will have to stay home try to go back to bed.  It’s a head start on resting. Don’t get involved in work stuff yet, it will just pull you in.
  2. Try to put all your work related phone calls, emails and distractions in one time period in the afternoon. Delegate any responsibilities that you can. Give yourself permission to forget about work the rest of the day. Plan a nap right after the work session!
  3. When you begin to feel guilty, look at the big picture. Our society has become obsessed with productivity, with working. We are worshiping this activity. Remember the things that you truly value, including your health.
  4. Know that it’s not unusual now to feel sad and a bit worthless when you’re staying home doing “nothing”. Don’t believe it. Your value is not based on how many hours in a week you work or how much money you make.
  5. Call someone who loves you and tell them that you are sick. We all need nurturing. It’s not childish. It’s humanish.
  6. Drink lots of water. Drink tea. Eat soup. Remember what your Mom gave you on sick days when you were a kid? Have that. Didn’t have that kind of Mom? I recommend tea and toast.
  7. Do some quiet self-nurturing activities. You need TLC. You don’t need to be anywhere but where you are.
  8. Sleep as much as you can. Really, it helps.
  9. Don’t be in a hurry to get back to work. Most people go back to soon.

Be well.

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