Last Monday, my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. as it usually does. Having felt under the weather the day before, I had already warned my friend I was a ‘maybe’ for the gym in the morning. When I woke up, I realised I still felt crappy. My nose was still runny. My cough still pretty bad. I messaged her to let her know I wouldn’t make it to the gym but I’d see her at work. I reset my alarm for 6:15 and fell back asleep.
When the alarm rang, I pulled myself out of bed, showered and started to get ready for work. Except, I still felt awful. One eye was watery. My head hurt. I was still coughing and sniffling. And my body was a bit achy. I sat on my bed and thought about the day ahead at work. I had two new clients to see in addition to two regular clients. Four in all. There was no way I could not go in. Plus, given it was after a long weekend, I’d be expected to get a medical certificate even for taking one day off work.
My friend then messaged me. Turned out, she fell back asleep after she saw my message and didn’t get to the gym. She also added that if I wasn’t well, I probably should stay home. I texted back my dilemma – of new clients, of medical certificates, of not wanting to take a day off.
She told me two things – that if I came in sick, I’d be unproductive anyway. And that it would take me longer to get better. She also gave me the number for a local GP who bulk billed so I could pop in for a medical certificate.
That was the permission I needed.
I called in sick, called the medical centre, slept for an hour till my appointment. When I drove to the doctor – an eight-minute drive – I struggled as I was feeling horrible. Once there, I found out, I actually had a slight temperature. In short, I had the flu. He sent me off with recommendations to rest and drink lots of fluids, meds for my sinus pain and a certificate for two days off work.
After a brief stop at the chemist, a quick call to work that I’d not be in the next day either, I went back home and slept. I slept for most of the day. Fifteen hours according to my FitBit.
The next day, when I felt a bit human again, I was able to reflect on my stupidity from the day before. I couldn’t believe I’d wanted to go to work, to see clients when I could barely drive myself to see a doctor. When I had no energy for anything other than sleep.
It made me wonder why I don’t give myself permission to be sick. To not do some work. To relax when I have to. While I have become a lot better in allowing myself to feel uncomfortable emotions, or giving myself time to write or enjoy things, or even to not exercise sometimes, I notice when it comes to my day job, I really do push myself. For a workplace that probably does not care about me anyway. It’s also not like my clients won’t survive if I don’t see them – I work as part of a team who follow up anyway.
I need to look after my health. Particularly when it’s at work. It’s part of why I burnt out – I pushed myself to my detriment. I now make sure I take lunch breaks. If I have caught up with most of my work, or if I’ve taken a short lunch break, I’ll allow myself to go for a walk. Or to read.
But I need to do more. I need to give myself permission to sit back sometimes. To have a sick day if I am genuinely sick. To not take on a new client if I have a full caseload.
It’s a work in progress and something I need to be mindful of. Because in the end, neither my workplace nor my clients will do anything if my health suffers.
Do you give yourself permission to not be your best?
Image source: Pexels
Until next time,