On Taking Sick Days…

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taking sick days tea lemon ginger

When was the last time you took a sick day? And I’m talking about a real, honest to goodness day off to recover. One that looks like all the Netflix you can devour, turning off your phone and tuning out social media, and yes, maybe even shutting everything off and reading an actual book. You know, those large rectangle shaped things with roughly 300 pages? Kobos and eReaders DO NOT count! Yes, I’m a minimalist, but I do not believe in eReaders. It’s yet another screen to stare at. 

I’m old school. I love paper. I need the tangible feel of a REAL book. The publishing industry will never go out of business with me around. 

But, we’re not here to talk books or eReaders or debate why as a minimalist you should have an eReader instead of books. (BTW, I’m pro book as a minimalist. The less tech in my life, the better.)

We’re here to talk about stepping back and caring for YOU. I’ll give you my story that started Wednesday of last week…

On Wednesday morning, I woke with a scratchy throat that I blamed on a mild case of acid reflux. Thinking nothing of it, I ventured out to meet a friend for coffee and discuss our newfound passion for crystals and their healing qualities.

Later that night, my sinuses decided to clog up. Uh oh! This is a cold coming on. And, in almost the same moment, I got angry. I recently started getting back into the habit of morning exercise sessions. And it was going well. But thanks to this cold virus, I’d have to start all over again in a week’s time. Which would postpone the entire exercise plan I had in place.

Oh, the best-laid plans…am I right?

Thursday morning, I hadn’t entered full-on “incubus of viral plague” and felt good enough to head to my part-time job. Naturally, I wouldn’t go unarmed.  I grabbed my favourite cold med — DayQuil — as insurance against teary eyes, a runny nose, and whatever else a cold virus can throw at you.

As a side note, DayQuil, as much as it is my go-to cold med, the effects of it turn me into a psychotic version of the energizer bunny and usually leaves me zonked later in the day.

Thankfully, I managed to make it through 4 hours of my shift before I wanted a nap. I slogged through the last hour, wanting nothing but to go home and lie on the couch and shut off.

Based on that, I’m sure you can figure out my evening. It was tea, more tea, hot toddies, and in bed by 8:30 pm.

Luckily, I managed to get my opening shift (starts at 6:30 am) covered for Friday. Hallelujah! A real sick day to rest and recuperate. And I did precisely that. I lounged, I Netflix’ed, watched movies on iTunes and did the exact opposite of most days. It was heaven.

I started to feel connected to myself again.

Putting the phone down, staying hydrated and eating healthy, put my mind in a healthy place. A healing place. For the first time in a while, I could hear myself think. My own real thoughts. Not my muted thoughts from everyone else’s noise — emails, newsletters, promotions, social media, and other people’s ideas.

Saturday was almost a repeat of Friday. I was sorely mistaken that I’d be well enough to work my 7AM-Noon shift at the coffee shop. Not so much. I was a miserable, teary-eyed, snot infested mess. (Yes, I said snot. There’s no classier way to say it unless I get medical on you.) 

But, as I served customers between sneezes and running for tissue, I looked forward to the remainder of Saturday and all day Sunday. The remainder of Saturday was a relaxing day watching movies — a bit of Austen, The Quiet Man, Christopher Robin and a bit of Hell on Wheels.

On Sunday, aside from doing laundry and cleaning my germ infested bathroom, it was a relaxing day spent reading Ryder Carroll’s The Bullet Journal Method and taking notes. It was inspiring — reading about mindfulness, intention, and aligning actions with beliefs. It’s been a while since I could say I’ve had the most relaxing yet productive day.

It was a peaceful day with no tech, no TV, and no music: just me, the cat, a book and a lot of quiet and stillness. I felt calm, peace, a rested mind, and connected to myself again. There was no monkey mind running through my to-do list. I let go of all expectations, pressures, financial worries, everything.

And all it took? Calling it a SICK DAY and shutting everything off. Go figure.

taking sick days bullet journal tea

What I learned…

1. You have to let go and completely shut off. And shut off all the physical noise from your surroundings. Not only does your body need rest, but so does your mind. In my corporate days, when I took a sick day, I’d still log on from home and answer emails. I’d feel guilty for not working or believe that no one else could take care of my customers.

What I always neglected to remember? Your mind needs rest as much as your body to heal and get over a cold or flu virus.

2. I had the courage to face myself. When you shut all the tech and ambient noise off and sit quietly, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to come face to face with yourself. Any thoughts or bad habits that have been plaguing you will come to the surface. By sitting quietly and doing nothing, I came face to face with ME. And although I was fighting off a cold, I still had the energy and courage to do it. It was therapeutic.

It reminds me of a charming quote from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh:

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” ~ Pooh

3. Choosing to spend your time and energy on healing, learning, or calming activities. While some of you might think spending an entire day watching movies or Netflix is not a good use of time, I beg to differ. When you’re sick, your mind needs to calm down and shut off. You need to relax. And whatever it is that helps you to relax and heal, is in my opinion, good use of your time and energy.

When you practice intention on how you spend your time and energy, you stop living on autopilot. You are mindfully designing a life that is meaningful to you. Your time and energy are limited resources; you should be taking care of how and what you use them for.

I know how hard it is to justify a full-on relaxing sick day when you’re trying to rebuild your life, start a freelance business, or even if you’re working a full-time job — you worry about the time being wasted, or being unproductive, or looking bad in your employer’s eyes — but we all need rest to be productive and efficient.

It’s okay to take a sick day. Miraculous things can happen.

taking sick days hot toddy

My “Hot Toddy” Recipe

Ingredients

  • 12 oz (1.5 cups) boiling water
  • 2 slices fresh lemon halved (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or to taste)
  • Optional: a small piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • Note: I do not add whiskey, but there are versions out there that call for it.

Instructions

  • Boil water in a kettle.
  • Add lemon slices (halved) and honey to teacup or mug. You can also add ginger at this point.
  • Pour hot water into cup or mug and stir until honey has disappeared. Taste (careful! It’s hot) and add more honey or lemon as necessary.
  • Let steep for 4-5 minutes and enjoy!

PIN IT FOR LATER

When was the last time you took a sick day? Can we ever really have downtime to rest and recover? Read on for my thoughts on taking sick days and what you can learn.

Comments +

  1. I’m glad you’re feeling better! I am very lucky to work in a union environment where we get 10 sick days a year. I put in almost a year and a half of work though before I finally caved and took one (and went to work a lot when I shouldn’t have). And it was a glorious day. It was exactly what I needed to regroup and get refocused for work.

    • Michelle says:

      Much better, thanks! Being able to take sick days is wonderful. It helps so much when you don’t go back to work still feeling awful.

  2. kelstrom says:

    Sometimes we do have slow down but in our society we are considered lazy if we take care of ourselves. A mind and heart shift has to happen. I was perusing blog sites for ideas for mine. Thank you for your post.

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