Last week I missed two days of work and gave up most of my weekend to the flu. I was tired, achy, running a fever and, worst of all, had a very foggy brain. Since I love my work, forced “vacations” due to illness are no fun for me — aside from the fact that I felt pretty horrible — but this time, I decided to make the most of it.

When our bodies tell us to rest, we need to listen. In this case, I knew my body was fighting hard to get me well again as quickly as possible, so I decided to help it along as much as I could. Here’s what I did:

I took time off work. Really. I didn’t work from home even though I had my laptop with me and a long list of to-do items.

I stayed in bed. For the most part, I laid down, slept when I could, and just let me body rest as much as possible.

I watched a lot of movies. My brain was not up for reading, so I caught up on several movies from my Netflix list.

I drank a lot of liquids. Tea, water, tea, and more water were on a constant rotation.

I ate regularly to give myself energy. Despite having no appetite, I found when I ate I felt a little better so I made sure I had regular meals. (Admittedly, some of them were Chinese take-out because I wasn’t up to cooking.)

I didn’t rush myself back to health. I consciously decided not to be anxious about my to-do list and to only focus on what I could control in the moment, which was resting up to help the healing process.

I used positive self-talk. I refused to make the flu even worse by being negative with myself about getting sick in the first place. Everyone gets sick sometimes and this was just my turn.

I thanked my body for working so hard to get me well. A high fever is my sign that my body is working overtime to heal and fight off infection, so I practiced gratitude and thanked it for working on my behalf.

I went to bed early. Even though I was taking daily naps, I made sure to be in bed ready to sleep by 9pm.

I asked for help. Although I didn’t want to get my partner sick and pretty much quarantined myself, I did ask for regular liquid refills, medication drop-offs, and other small errands so that I didn’t have to move much.

Perhaps most importantly, I accepted that I was sick, I didn’t try to fight it, and I didn’t beat myself up for it. Even thought I didn’t feel great, this attitude gave me a much better experience than if I had kept pushing myself, gotten angry or frustrated, and/or denied the fact that I was sick and needed to stop and take care of myself for a few days.

Doing next to nothing for me is not easy, but it’s also sometimes completely necessary and completely worth it.

The following Monday, I dug out my email, reassessed my to-do list, and got back to work. I felt no guilt for my four days away — rather, I felt gratitude that it had only been four days and that I had healed relatively quickly given what I’ve seen going around at work.

Small changes in my attitude made getting the flu a lesson in accepting the now and practicing gratitude.

To think on:

  • What kind of self-talk and self-care practices do you use when you’re sick?
  • What’s your go-to healer for the flu?