Grab a cuppa – this is a long one! 🙂
About a week ago, I was more ill than I have been for ages. (That is an occupational hazard of teaching though – a lot of sickness bugs get shared around the school!) I had some kind of bad cold/flu that knocked me sideways for most of the week. I fell ill on the Saturday afternoon, and by that night I was feverish, coughing, and generally just feeling pretty awful. I stayed in bed all of Sunday and then, quite reluctantly, dragged myself to work on Monday. That was a bad idea.
I struggled through Monday at school, feeling lethargic and low in energy. I was coughing and wheezing through all my lessons, trying desperately to seem upbeat and positive. By the end of the day, I felt 10 times worse and my line manager promptly sent me home under strict instructions to get better.
So, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at home. In bed. Feeling utterly useless.
And here’s what I realised – although I knew that I needed to rest, and I would be advising anyone in the same boat as me to do exactly that, I felt incredibly guilty for taking two whole days out of work and out of my routine just to rest. I tried to go ahead with a personal training session but was luckily told by my trainer not to turn up at the gym, I felt awful for ‘making’ Chris prepare dinners and sort out the house, when actually it was totally his choice. I really didn’t know how to handle being this ill or, more accurately, how to hand over the control of my life to other people. I felt lazy and was itching to get back to school so that my colleagues wouldn’t think the same. (Spoiler: They are lovely, caring people who would never say that about anyone who was ill.)
So why all the worry? Why did I find it so hard just to rest and recover?
I suppose I’m just so used to being busy.
My job means that I’m on the go all day, often taking work home with me as well. I work at weekends, go to the gym when I can, wake up early to fit more into my day and spend my evenings wedding planning. I love being busy and it’s just become part of who I am. However, the shock to my system when I was forced to give all this up for a few days was unbelievable. I couldn’t adjust to suddenly feeling helpless and out of control. All I had was a cold, why on earth couldn’t I just get out the house and get stuff done?
Then I realised – I needed the rest.
My body needed to rest. It was unwell and it was never going to get better if I forced it through a school day, a workout and a few hours of admin. I needed to sleep, relax and recover.
Once I found peace with that, I coped a lot better.
I’m interested to know if any of you have been in the same situation – I’m sure that any of you who, unlike me, are self-employed or work from home, have certainly felt this guilt when you can’t do anything. But it is so important to give your body what it needs. Whether that is good food, lots of water, some exercise, or just complete rest. I got back to work on Thursday and now feel pretty much back to normal. If I hadn’t let my body recover for a few days, I’m certain that right now I’d feel just as awful as I did last weekend. If not worse.
Next time you’re ill and stuck in bed, try to see the upside. If you can, read a book. Or watch Netflix, or listen to a podcast. Enjoy whatever hobbies or relaxing activities you never normally have the time for, but can do with very little energy. Have a bath, curl up with your pet, eat comfort foods and drink Lucozade. When you decide to see this as a self-care opportunity rather that forced bed-rest, your mentality shifts to one of positivity and health, rather than negativity and sickness. (Remember, self-care doesn’t have to be really indulgent, sometimes it’s 100% necessary to just include low energy options to make you feel better.)
I hated being forced to rest, until I saw that it was exactly what I needed and that I could draw some positives from it if I really tried. I hope that in the future you can do the same 🙂