Whether you are dealing with stress already, or things are pretty calm, a sudden bout of illness can easily catch you off guard. While stress may be able to cause illness, being sick certainly causes more stress.
Even with a healthy lifestyle, illness can still happen.
In January I was lucky enough to have a rare, perfect vacation. I did all the healthy things; lots of fresh fruits and veggies, walks on the beach, peaceful meditation, yoga…the whole deal. I flew back home and promptly contracted some awful virus that laid me out flat, for weeks. February is gone and I’m not over this thing yet.
Did I do something wrong? No. Sometimes no matter how much we take good care of ourselves, things just happen, and it’s not our fault. Hearing news that something is “going around” may help us feel a little less stressed about it. At least it’s proof we didn’t just conjure up our own little ordeal.
So how do we deal with the stress of being sick, and keep from beating ourselves up? We give up and give in, and it helps to have a plan.
As critical as our agenda feels, the world will survive without us for a while. Yes, meetings may be missed. Someone else may have to step in and cover your desk. But in the long run your boss would rather you not give the flu to your coworkers, or have you really collapse trying to carry on with pneumonia.
Worrying about what will happen if you call in sick just adds more stress to whatever you are facing. As soon as you make the call and admit that you are not invincible, you can feel some of your stress automatically fall away.
Be prepared by sharing your knowledge at work. Cross training your subordinates or sharing your work in progress helps keep your coworkers from feeling overwhelmed if you are away. Giving your boss frequent updates on your projects lets him or her quickly reshuffle assignments without too much lost time or effort.
And the more help you give your workgroup when they are the sick or stressed out ones, the more readily they will stand in for you if need be.
Have a plan for your family. These days most men can fend for themselves pretty well on their own. But if you have children, it is always a good idea to have a backup plan for times when you may be down for the count. Find family members or good friends who would be willing to drive your kids to school, or let them stay for a few days in the safety of a germ-free environment.
Build a support group of people who could run easy errands, picking up medicines or food if you are unable to drive. The comfort of knowing you have people you can rely on will go a long way to relieve the stress of being sick and trying to cope alone.
Rest in bed. Doctors tell us all the time to go to bed if we are sick. But we seldom listen. We try to tough it out, sit up and zone out to some mindless TV, or maybe try to read. But a wise old doc once told me that your body really does know the difference between staying in bed and lying on the couch. Even if you are only battling an ordinary cold, you really do need serious rest to beat both your illness and your stress.
Be grateful for your healthy habits. It can be hard to be thankful for anything when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. But the results of your healthy habits do make you stronger, and better able to fight your illness, and the stress that comes with it. You can relax a bit; knowing you’ve done all you can to deal with the stress. Then lay back and get some rest.