When you’re juggling a lot of different things, it’s difficult to justify a moment to sit down, close your eyes and just breathe. It’s easy to fool ourselves thinking that switching activities, from a full-time job to a hobby, for instance, is giving ourselves the break that we really need. You may be doing something different, but you’re still active and switched on. UK-based Productivity Ninja, Katy Bateson, exhausted herself a few weeks ago and was forced into taking a break – she’s since written about why rest is something we should do more of.
Sometimes we just need to stop, listen to our body and take action.
A few weeks ago, I traveled to Bristol to perform at the Bristol Improv Festival, which inevitably became a very busy weekend.
The morning after I got back, I just couldn’t get back into the swing of things. I felt tired but restless and unable to focus on anything. During the afternoon it became obvious that I was fighting off a cold. I had the sniffles, a head that felt like it was stuffed full of cotton wool and I was feeling very, very tired.
So I made the decision to take the rest of the afternoon off. I curled up on the settee with a blanket and listened to podcasts. And today, I’m still not feeling 100% but I’m sure that I’m feeling better than I would have done if I had carried on working.
I could have quite easily pushed on yesterday, forced myself to carry on working. I could have carried on working even though the quality of my work would have been poor. My attention levels were below even inactive (possibly at a dormant level of attention). So I wouldn’t have achieved anything by carrying on working.
But we’ve all been there, working when we’re not well. Battling through the day when what we really need to be doing is resting and letting our body recuperate.
When I used to work in an office I would feel incredibly guilty being off work unless I had sickness and/or diarrhoea, when being off ill would feel justified because I couldn’t physically get into work. I never felt that I was ill enough to justify being off and I hate to admit that I had been known to sit with a microwaveable beanie penguin held on my ear when I had earache.
I learned over time that I needed to take more care of myself and take time off work when I wasn’t well. I know how difficult this is with sickness monitoring policies in place that in my experience seemed to work for people who skived but not for people who were genuinely unwell. But we need to take care of our bodies and it takes a lot longer to get over being ill when you carry on as if everything is normal.
If you do have to go into work when you’re ill, here are a few tips that might help:
- Tell your colleagues that you’re under the weather so they understand why you’re not being as productive as you can
- Keep yourself well hydrated, drink lots of water
- Keep taking the cold and flu medication (it really does help!)
- Cancel plans for the evening, go home and get some rest
- Don’t put pressure on yourself by expecting to achieve what you would when you’re well