November 22, 2014

Why Taking a Sick Day (Before we get Sick) can keep us Healthy.

Meghan Neeley 1

We’ve all been there.

Working yourself to the brink of illness.

You saw your friends, family and coworkers come down with colds and flus and you kept pushing forward.

After all, you had things to do.

Then the weekend comes, and you fill your time with errands and gatherings and to-do lists and date nights and you wind up being just as tired at the start of the week and the whole scenario begins again.

Then, the worst happens.

Just when you are about to give the big presentation or go on the family vacation, you get sick. You’re forced to stop everything and power down.

What if you could do it differently? What if you could take a “sick day” before getting sick?

I’m not encouraging you to lie to your employer and ditch work to hang out with friends. I’m taking about consciously choosing a day for rejuvenation. Clearing your schedule in devotion to your own wellness.

How do you make this happen amidst an already overflowing schedule? You open your calendar and block off a day for yourself. Just like you’d add in a new client, a class, a party or a deadline. You write: my wellness day. Reserve it now. Don’t push it out to the new year.

When your wellness day arrives it could look like this:

Wake up rested because you wore your favorite fuzzy pajamas to bed and didn’t set an alarm. When you went to sleep you knew there was nothing planned for the next day so your mind could let go. (That’s key. Our nervous system organizes itself to get with the future, with what’s happening later in the day rather than being fully in the moment.)

Roll out of bed and ask yourself what you most want in this moment. (This is a question I return to again and again and I have found it to hold immeasurable value.)

Make your favorite tea. Pick up the book you’ve been longing to finish (or start) and get back into bed. Prop yourself up on extra pillows and grab the most luxuriously cozy blankets you have.

Stay in bed with your book for as long as you want. Don’t even bother to look at the time.

When you start to feel hungry consider the foods that would be most nourishing to your body. Eat them. Keep drinking lots of fluids. My favorite blend is a combo of whole oranges blended with frozen strawberries, honey and coconut water. Vitamin C mixed with deep hydration. Note: Don’t wait until you’re sick to boost your vitamins.

Build a fire. Sit in front of it and gaze off into space. Remember when you had the flu and it felt painful to move? Your body enforced relaxation. Let your body know it’s safe to fully relax and do nothing without having to get sick. It’s like sending a secret message to your cells. (I imagine your cells all in various restorative yoga postures, thanking you.)

Speaking of restorative yoga, feel free to get down on the floor and enjoy a practice that supports your adrenals

Cuddle. Cuddle with your partner or your pets. Cuddling releases oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and inhibits cortisol. It’s one of the biggest immune system boosters out there. 

Make a delicious soup. Bone broth is deeply nourishing and so easy to make. Creating something like this that will carry the nourishment of your wellness day into your week ahead is like giving yourself a “pay it forward.” 

Watch a movie. Write in your journal. Gaze at the stars. Do what you’d do on a sick day with no deadlines and no computer screen. Keep it simple.

Light candles and soak in a hot bath with your favorite essential oils. Put on some soft music in the background and allow your bath to become a sacred meditation.

Climb back into bed early and give yourself the pleasure of a long and deep night of sleep.

Go ahead. Give yourself the gift of wellness.

Then tell us about your day and anything that you added to make it extra nourishing.



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Author: Meghan Neeley

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Author’s Own

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