If you are a certain crowd, you now have Hamilton running through your head. You’re welcome.
Since I am currently battling a week long cold that has forced me to spend most of my time in bed playing the Sims, I figured it was as good a time as any to write this. I have been learning a lot about self-care from my psychologist. She emphasizes the importance of taking time for yourself each day to ensure that you don’t push your body and your mind too far, but this isn’t always easy.
I learned several years ago that our nation has a problem with something called Presenteeism. Basically, because of pressures either at work or from our personal finances, we will go to work even if we are extremely unwell. I have never been one of the people who could do that. Give me a slightly bad cold and I am completely knocked out. It is even hard for me to focus on work on my laptop while laying down in my bed. For the longest time, I felt like a failure as I compared myself to people who somehow could actively work, even with a 102 degree fever. I would feel lazy or like my willpower was weak. I would feel guilty every time I called in and tell myself I was a failure if I couldn’t get anything done while I was sick.
However, calling in sick to work might actually be the best thing you can do. Forcing yourself to go to work can not only hurt you by making your recovery longer, but it is the worst possible thing for the company you work for and everyone around you. First, if you are contagious, you could get other people sick. There is nothing worse than being the typhoid Mary who gets the entire office sick. Even if you aren’t contagious, when you are unwell at work, your productivity is significantly lower:
“Two articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year reported that depression set U.S. employers back some $35 billion a year in reduced performance at work and that pain conditions such as arthritis, headaches, and back problems cost nearly $47 billion.”
By going to work, and potentially prolonging your recovery, you extend the amount of time in which your productivity suffers, hurting your company in the long run.
After learning all of this, I began to listen to my body more and be more conscientious about the decisions I made when I was sick. I still feel guilty calling in, but less so than I did before. It is also important to take preventative measures to reduce the chances of illness. Practicing self-care allows your body to rest and reduces the chance that you will feel unwell in the first place. For example, by taking time each day to do something I enjoy, it helps to prevent my depression from becoming too much of a burden. By getting a full night’s sleep every night, your body is able to rest and you are less likely to get sick. I have learned that taking time for yourself is not selfish. It helps you and it helps everyone around you. Sometimes you need to forgive your body for its fragility and listen to it when it cries out for rest.
In the musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton doesn’t take a break with his family, despite their urging, and ends up in a situation where he cheats on his wife which leads to a scandal that destroys his political career and severely damages his marriage. Don’t be like Hamilton, he gets shot at the end of the play (spoilers?).Take a break and enjoy the people around you while you can.