I was on the airplane back home when I started feeling ill. It was very unusual, as I never get dizzy or anxious when flying. I tried to brush it off, after all, I was going to be home in just a couple of hours.
As time went by, I started feeling worse. When I arrived home, my stomach was killing me. I had the worst case of food poisoning I ever had.
But why? I was just returning home from my vacations. I didn’t have any problems during the trip, all food had been excellent, there was no reason for this to be happening, or so I thought.
You see, most of the time, when you get sick, there is a reason behind it. Yeah, it may be that you just caught some random bug but more often than not there so much more to it. In my particular case, it’s quite common that I will get sick after returning from vacations. Weird, right?
Once I started asking myself questions while I waited for my doctor to arrive, I discovered a lot of meaning behind my terrible situation.
For us, that work independently, taking vacations is more challenging. Not just because you need to clear your schedule, but because you have to make the income that you won’t be making during those days that you are taking off.
It’s the same for me, whenever I leave for vacations I need to complete all my projects before I can relax, and sometimes that is not possible.
As I started thinking about it, even tho I enjoyed my downtime discovering a new place; I still felt stressed out about the projects I had to finish.
Instead of relaxing, my stress was building up. The curious thing is that it was for no real reason.
I’m lucky to work with amazing people, and when I told them I was leaving for vacations, they were very understanding about scheduling work around that week. Nobody complained or rushed me into anything.
However, digging deeper into my emotions I found out the cause: when I was first starting out as a freelancer, I took a trip to the beach and upon my return I had lost 70% of my clients.
Yes, I know it sounds quite crazy to do all this while you are in pain, but the effort is well worth it.
I quickly decided to take the day off telling my clients what was happening, and everyone understood the situation. Then I proceeded to relax as much as possible.
As a small business owner, it’s easy to forget that your health is one of our business’ most important assets. If you are not healthy and you are just trying to push yourself into completing your goals, you are just doing yourself and your business a disservice.
Just think about how fast you can work when you are in a good mood, and everything is flowing smoothly and compare it whenever you catch a cold. Yes, you may feel you are still doing great work, but in reality, you are not as productive as you usually are.
That’s why I believe listening to your body is a crucial skill to master when you have to work for yourself.
I know, I know, that sounds woo-woo, but just listen to me for a minute. We often forget that stress is also an emotional response. Just as you react to a good joke by laughing, you can experience sickness or pain because you are reacting to an overwhelming amount of stress.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can exchange medical advice for listening to your body, but it certainly can help you recover if you combine both.
So whenever you get sick or stressed out of your mind, try following the next steps.
- Ask yourself why are you feeling so stressed out. I know the last thing you want when you are sick is to figure things out, but just answering that question will give you a ton of clarity.
- Divide your work into crucial and on hold. I couldn’t stop working entirely during those few days I felt horrible, but I knew I only had to accomplish one thing because it was time sensitive, the rest could wait. Making that division can help you use the little energy you have in the best way possible.
- Let people know. It’s hard to accept that we get sick, but it’s only normal, so let other people know that you are having a rough time and that you may need to take a day off.
- Rest as much as possible and try to do something you enjoy. In my case whenever I’m sick I try to watch a fun movie or I a competitive esports match (yep, I’m a nerd). Do something that relaxes you and makes you happy; it will speed up your recovery if you are in a good mood.
- Pay attention to what your body needs. The human body is a wonder, and it always knows what it needs to recover faster. If you feel thirsty or gravitate towards a particular kind of food, just go for it. There is a reason even if it doesn’t make any sense to you.
- If things are too rough, ask for help. It’s evident that if you are sick or in pain, you should seek immediate medical attention, but when we are talking about stress, it may seem harder to ask for help. Just talking with a good friend and venting a little can do wonders. Even an introvert like me recognizes the importance of having a support group.
Remember, your wellbeing is crucial to your success, and whenever you are not feeling at the top of your game, you need to devote time to your self-care. We may like to think we can work non stop and that we are always super productive, but the reality is entirely different.
So take it easy whenever you get sick and don’t make it any harder on yourself. Just rest easy so you can bounce back into action faster, and if someone questions you just send them to this article and hopefully they will understand.