What To Do When You’re Sick (But Still Trying To Function)


I have been sick for the past month with 3 entirely different ailments and illnesses. It’s been awful, because when you have an adult life full of responsibilities, it’s not like everything can just stop and wait for you to get better. Or you could just hibernate for a couple of days and everything will just take care of itself. Plus, when you have 3 little bodies who call you mommy (in varying whining tones) a gazillion times a day… well, life becomes very exhausting. It takes every ounce of self-control to then have to clean up potty-training accidents with a throbbing headache as a result of some serious sinus congestion. (But hey! At least I couldn’t smell anything, which was great!)

It has been humbling for me of course, because I have had to slow down, ask for help, live a little simpler (and messier too) just to cope.

Because I know if I do not – I will not get better!

We are limited by our physical bodies. Although we want to get a ton of things done, we just can’t. That physical limit needs to be respected, because when we start losing sleep, eating badly and not taking time to manage our stress, soon our body will take the reins and demand the recuperation it yearns for.

In other words: if you do not give what your body needs, it will take revenge on you.

But we all have lives that go on and on, and slowing down a little feels like we are falling behind a marathon running race. Then we feel even more stressed about our illness. And we don’t get any better. Where’s the logic in that?

Here’s some advice on dealing with illness when you have a lot else to deal with…*

*Disclaimer: I am not a qualified healthcare practitioner, so please do seek the advice of your doctor or nurse regarding your illness. These tips are only based upon my experience as a mother to help you in your recovery process.


Forget The “Sweeties”

If you are suffering with congestion, do you really think it’s a good idea to drink a glass of milk? Or eat a candy bar? Bacteria loves dairy products, processed foods and refined foods. Whatever the illness is, opt for healing foods, which are fresh foods like vegetables, fruits, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates, and non-processed proteins. Your body’s nutrient requirements increase when it is trying to fight off illnesses and repair cells. If you really cannot ignore the craving, have just a taste or half the amount you normally eat. If you don’t care about what you eat, well, you unfortunately won’t be getting better as soon as you could have. With the growing to-do list looming in my mind, boy, I know that I will do everything I can to get better as soon as possible!



Take a Day’s Leave: Make it Count

I know that this sounds like the most boring, generic advice for illness. I’m sorry to say this, but yes, you need to take your day’s leave from work. For at least a day to fully rest. If the doctor has booked you off for a week, but there’s too much work weighing upon your mind, make the leave you are able to take, count! And that means that you should not be thinking about work when you do take your day’s leave. (Easier said than done, I know). If you don’t feel better after a good solid day’s rest, well you may need to take 2 days off. Or even more. Everyone is different in their recovery time, whatever illness it may be. But tell yourself that the earth is not going to explode if you are away from work or your house is a war-zone for a day or two. You are not a robot that can work continuously and perfectly. You are a human being with physical limitations and YOU HAVE TO REST!

My experience of this was when I had a cold but I was still determined to clean my house. I vacuumed and washed floors and was very proud of myself. My house sparkled! Although – my body was not impressed. The day after, I became extremely ill with a bad case of flu. For the following week I had to fight my illness even harder with medication and plenty of rest. Moral of the story? Just get the rest you need when your body first asks for it. You cannot ignore your body’s requests. I know that when my husband gets little sleep, sure as eggs, he wakes up feeling congested in the morning. It’s so weird, I know, but it gives an indication of how sleep affects immunity.

Exercise is also not a good idea at this time. Perhaps doing simple stretches, easy yoga poses and gentle walks are good for now. Your sick body is trying to repair itself so also trying to cope with an intense workout is asking too much. Getting out into the sunshine is a must when you are sick, as it will help you to feel not so groggy. Don’t stay in bed the whole day either, dependant upon the severity of your illness.



Delegate & Get Help

With your job, whether it be business-based or being a parent, you really need to get extra help when you are ill. Start thinking realistically and realise that you will actually be able to recover sooner if you get help. Ask a trusted colleague or relative to help out a little (of course not to do your entire job) to get one or two urgent tasks done. Just for things to hang in there so everything doesn’t fall apart while you are on sick-leave.

And regarding your parental duties, hire a cleaner or call a baby-sitter. If you cannot afford a cleaner, just do the bare minimum of household chores by washing the dishes, making beds and taking out the garbage. Don’t do what I did and suddenly decide it’s a good time to scrub the floors. Because it is not. Get your kids involved (dependant upon their age) to tidy the house or you should arrange playdates for them so you can rest. Ask a relative for help in whatever way they are able to, such as baby-sitting or meal preparation. Or give Mr Delivery a call. Seriously, your main motto is going to be getting the bare minimum done in the easiest and simplest way.


Get The Right Medication

This is pretty obvious, but it is worth mentioning that although Dr Google is helpful, be careful with self-diagnosis. Don’t try to think you that know exactly what your illness is and have the equivalent of a 5-year medicine degree just because you read up on Google for 30 minutes. Dr Google is helpful for sure, don’t get me wrong, because we have access to knowledge of what symptoms and signs to look out for and the ones you should worry about. But doctors generally have years’ experience over and above completing their studies of the human body and medicine. If your illness is quite bad and uncomfortable, be it an infection or a virus, you need to get to a doctor. I am a believer of alternatives like homeopathy and kinesiology too, but sometimes antibiotics are really very necessary should the illness be advanced and aggressive, in my experience. Once you have your medication, make sure you store them properly and take them as prescribed.




Like the two stones in the picture above, your priorities become very simplified when you are ill. The stone at the bottom may represent you and the stone on top your family. Because your family depends on you. If you are ill, your family will also suffer from your limitations. Although in the same way, your family needs to make compromises in order to help you balance your family life.

Your main motto is going to be getting the bare minimum done in the easiest and simplest way. Live minimally and simplify your life. Say no to the  fluff in your life and you will recover faster. Not sure about what you should or shouldn’t keep in your life? Ask yourself this question: Is the item that I need to do absolutely necessary and will it help me to get better? Simplicity will really help you to get back on track with life and on your feet after your illness.

Below is a free image to download for your convenience to post as a pretty Whatsapp profile picture while you are sick. Just so your contacts will know why you aren’t super fast at replying to messages and also so people know your current situation. I know that many of you may not want to broadcast your “sick status”, but it just may come in handy!

Look after yourself, have patience with the healing process that your body is working so hard at doing. You need some extra slack at this time. The body is an amazing thing; given the right foods and rest it can sort itself out fine. I wish you all who are ill at this time a speedy recovery!

Have any strange or wonderful sickness stories about how you coped (or didn’t) when you were sick? Or have any great tips about what worked for you? Feel free to comment below!

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