A challenge for many working adults is knowing when to rest and when to push ourselves just a little bit more. It can be hard to rest when you are sick, if you feel well enough to write “just one email”. Which becomes 2 to 3 emails and then working on some slides for a presentation and then before you know it, at the end of the day, feel worse. Physically more tired and sickly, emotionally frustrated that we didn’t rest when we should have, mentally worrying about the work we procrastinated because we weren’t “well enough.”
Add the stressor of working from home, with blurred boundaries and not really calling in sick, because we can “take it easy” and determine our own pace.
Bulldozing through work even when you are under the weather can be counterproductive. Operating at sub-optimal conditions can seem possible in the short-term, with some compromise in efficiency, but certainly not sustainable. Our condition may worsen, and it may take longer to recover.
When we rest, we help our body to heal and enhance our immune system response. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found a link between sleep and post-infection recovery, if you needed a reason to rest when you are sick.
Something I have learnt in a workshop many years ago helped shape how I choose to tend to my body. Our minds can time travel as we revisit the past or worry about the future but our body is always in the present, the here-and-now. Our bodies will signal to us what is going on in the present moment and what it needs, and its adaptiveness has a beautiful way of grounding us and keeping us alive.
Physical symptoms are data points for us. They signal what is going on with the body and these symptoms may not go away, as much as we try to ignore them. One of the quick self-care tips that I work with my clients is to check in with our bodies and tend to what is going on by asking one quick question, “What do I need right now?”. When we become aware and mindful, we can choose to address these signs and symptoms and learn to take better care of ourselves.
Whether it means taking an afternoon off and sleep or taking regular breaks to hydrate ourselves, or taking more wholesome and healthier foods.
There is a beautiful Chinese saying that goes like this “Rest so you can go further and longer.” 休息是为了走更长远的路。
Rest when you are sick, and look after yourself so you can operate at a more sustainable pace.