Stop feeling guilty, it’s okay to take a break when you need one, here’s why
I’m going to tell you something.
This past week, I was sick.
I will admit, I thought I was dying.
“It’s COVID. You’re most likely going to be dead in a few days.”
I told myself.
Why is it that we jump to the worst possible conclusion when we’re not feeling well? When our friends or family get sick, we cover them in well-wishes, and tell them “You’re fine! You’re going to feel better by the morning! Just rest!”
However, when it’s ourselves that get sick, we google our symptoms and tell ourselves it’s cancer. Or, in this case, COVID.
I know, I might be acting a little dramatic. However, I had the symptoms! I was convinced.
I was 110% wrong, it was strep throat.
How on earth did I get strep throat while quarantined and the only time I ever leave the comforts of my home or for my morning runs and the occasional grocery trips? I have no clue, friends. I’m still trying to figure that out.
Luckily, with it being the 21st century and all, I was able to hop on a quick phone call with a doctor I found online on my 3rd day of feeling like death.
She evaluated my symptoms and wrote out a prescription for strep. I did also notice that monstrous lump in the back of my throat that morning, so she definitely was on point with the assumption.
I felt better after 48 hours of taking antibiotics. I never felt happier.
However, throughout this time of feeling sick, I couldn’t shake this feeling of overwhelming guilt.
I felt guilty for not working.
I’ll admit, I tried. I tried reading, I tried listening, I tried writing. I had a high fever and all I could think about was whether or not I should change my shirt for the 4th time in 1 day. I was hotter than a sauna.
Prior to getting sick, I was on a work roll. I had a routine I followed to the T.
I worked from the moment I woke up, to the moment it was time for bed. That was what made me feel good. That was what made me feel like I was making true progress.
Getting sick really ruined that for me. I was torn between giving my body what it needed, and giving my mind what I thought it wanted.
I’m not saying work yourself to death despite illnesses and whatever else might occur. I’m saying that at the time, I didn’t understand that it was okay to take a break.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway
I love writing, it has always been my way of expressing the turmoil of emotions I constantly feel. I mean I could probably write an entire poem based on my emotions towards white wine and the way it looks next to a mason jar of dried up lavender.
Art, my mind tells me. Write about it, my mind says.
I’m tired. My body responds.
You’re fine. My brain says.
It’s a constant battle, I mean you could probably imagine the whole good angel vs bad angel on each shoulder scenario.
Look, if you’re someone who struggles with constantly over-working, I get it. I understand. You’re not alone, and there’s nothing wrong with how you feel. However, I want to tell you something that I wish I would have told myself.
Give yourself grace.
If you feel tired and overworked, then allow yourself to take a rest.
I know that you’re anticipating the 3 loads of laundry you have to do tomorrow, and the unending to-do list that you have to complete, but when your own body is weak and tired or you’re simply feeling overwhelmed… know that it’s okay to take a break.
It’s okay to give yourself some time and grace for all the things you didn’t accomplish the one week you got sick or the one-time life got in the way.
The week that I got sick, I felt frustrated because I thought I was going to get so behind on everything.
In all honesty, if I had allowed my body the rest that it deserved the moment I felt sick, I believe I would have gotten better much faster.
If you’re someone who is struggling, I want to share a few things that I ended up doing to take care of not only my health physically, but mentally.
I decided to take the whole week off.
It sounds insane, but honestly, I got sick on a Monday. By the time I got my antibiotics, it was Wednesday afternoon.
Despite them helping, I still felt weak and my favorite thing to do was sleeping. I decided that instead of half-assing all of my work, I would simply take the week off to heal and get better.
I read a book, I watched a few films on my bucket list. I did what made me feel good and what my body asked of me.
I took baths
This was one of the best ways of healing. I took Epsom salt baths with close to scalding hot water. I just wanted my body to feel zero stress. “Just relax,” I told my body.
I turned on a mindless TV show and let my brain zone out completely. This is probably one of the greatest forms of exercise for your brain, I never felt more refreshed after.
I was the epitome of health.
I wouldn’t say I’m an unhealthy individual, but I do enjoy indulgent treats and bottles of wine.
Throughout my entire week of being sick, I opted for all the good stuff. I had plenty of smoothies that were filled with micronutrients, I drank fluids until my bladder threatened to explode, I had zero alcohol, (I was also on antibiotics) and I ate a TON of fermented goods for my gut bacteria. I came out of this being the epitome of health.
I allowed myself to relax on the weekend.
I know I mentioned that I took the week off, but I wanted to reiterate that I did indeed take the weekEND off as well. Why? It made me feel good. It made me feel energized to get back on track on Monday.
I maintained productivity throughout the weekend doing little errands and such, however, I did not do a single ounce of work until Monday morning. And let me tell you, it felt GOOD. I was on fire when I got back to it on Monday.
I gave myself grace and I focused on my health last week. It took time but eventually, I understood that it was in my best interest to take time to heal.
I hope that if you’re someone like me, someone who loves what they do and someone who refuses to take a day off, I hope you read this and get something out of it.
I hope the next time you don’t feel well, or you feel like you need a break, you listen and acknowledge those feelings.
Take the break, your health is crucial.
It should always be your top priority. You can always go back to your work, and when you do so after a well-deserved break, you’ll thank yourself.