Sick Days and Self Care

I woke up this morning about 1.5 hours before my alarm — which is set for 4:05am. Head was pounding, limbs felt like lead, mouth tasted and felt like I’d been licking a cat. Fun stuff (I’ve experienced this before — more on that below) Normally I’d get up at my alarm, force some coffee down my throat, and head off to work, sick or not. I lay there debating if I should call the store manager and wake her up, or just suck it up and go to work. 99% of the time I just go to work, and of those times 99% of the time I make it. Not necessarily at full operating capacity, but I make it.

Today however, I decided to take a sick day. Since I started at TimberFalls (and I’ve been full time there for 2+ years)I think this could be the first time I’ve called in sick. There have been the rare occasion where I’ve gone to work to help open the store and then gone back home after a few hours. Anyway, I’ve been slowly getting used to the idea of “self care”. Basically — if I’m not healthy in the critical 3 areas, nothing else matters. “Your health comes first” my General Manager told me a few weeks back “if you’re not healthy, nothing else matters. If you need to take a sick day, take it. If you need to take a mental health day, take it”. Mental, emotional, and physical health matters. I’m slowly getting in the habit of finding ways to improve my health and take care of myself better, in all 3 areas.

I was telling a friend today that it felt wonderful to have a “no pants day”. Yes, I was feeling like I’d been hit by a truck, but it was almost entirely physical — no foggy brain or sluggishness there, just my body figured it was time to pull the plug and enforce a rest day.

As I said before, I’ve experienced these symptoms before. At their worst I’d miss a day of work every 2 to 3 weeks. This was where I was working a different job — more physically demanding. Usually a day of lazing around, sipping water and gatorade or fruit juice, and I’d be feeling almost 100% by late afternoon. Still physically tired, yes but not “hit by a truck” anymore. And yes, it does feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, who wasn’t satisfied with one shot and then proceeded to back over me so he could run over me again. Every muscle aches. If I had the patience I could probably count each follicle of hair on my head because even those hurt. A trip to the washroom requires huge amounts of mental focus to make sure my leg muscles support me the way there, and that they bend and move at the right times. It may sound silly but on days like this, yes walking for the first few hours takes almost 100% concentration.

Anyway, when it was happening more often I figure it was a combination of dehydration and not enough fresh air (the place I worked had poor air quality, lots of smoke and ultra fine steel dust in the air — but not enough that masks or air purification was deemed necessary). Once I changed jobs days like this diminished rapidly.

Which brings me to today. I probably could have gone to work today. And believe me I’ll probably wish I had when I get the paycheck. But I think I made the smarter choice.

Self care. It seems so simple yet it’s hard, because often self care can feel selfish, and I was brought up to never be selfish. However, if I want to be able to give 100% at work for my employer and my customers, if I want to be able to enjoy my time off, if I want to be able to enjoy time with friends and family — self care isn’t selfish. it’s critical.

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