So, I’m one of those annoying people who never really gets horribly sick. I have a pretty strong immune system, mostly because I don’t take medicine very often when I am feeling a little “yucky.” I let my body do its job, and it normally works out for the best. Oh yeah, except for three weeks ago when a stubborn cold turned into mono, bronchitis, and strep throat…all at once.
I guess becoming an adult opens the flood gates for disgusting illness and disease to take me down for the count. What really sucks is when you’re working full time you can’t just skip class or send your professor an email. No, you have a minimal amount of sick days to use, and heaven forbid you get sick during the real flu season. So, how did I deal? I complained a lot to friends and family, I cried, I tried to sleep (tried being the operative word), and I just communicated what was going on as best I could to my boss.
Although I was under the impression that it should be illegal for me to go to work with 100 other people in this condition (I was more worried for myself and my already-stressed-out immune system than I was for others), my doctor looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if I could still go to work. Apparently real adults are expected to scrape and claw their way through serious illnesses while also hitting their deadlines…no thanks.
I don’t really recommend ever getting this sick if you can help it, but it was a good learning experience for me in this new adult world about sucking it up and just getting through it. Because many of you will be graduating and finding some awesome little cubicles to sit in and take selfies in all day, I thought it might be helpful to learn how to navigate illnesses while working. Not the kind you use as excuses to stay home, like little sniffles, or headaches from the bottle of Boone’s Farm you drank the night before while watching Grey’s — I mean real deal, not sure how you’re getting through it sick. Here are the 17 do’s and don’ts of office illnesses.
1. DO take your vitamins. It sounds lame, but I leave a bottle of multivitamins on my desk. No excuse not to slip one down while answering emails!
2. DON’T be afraid to turn your friends down for happy hour if you’re just not feeling well that week. In college I’d go out no matter what, because why miss out on fun when FOMO’s a thing? Now, I realize how much worse it can get if you don’t listen to your body, and most importantly, your liver.
3. DO drink more water than you think you need, or want. Just keep chugging, literally.
4. DO buy a heavier coat than your North Face. It’s time, ladies.
5. DO pay attention to how crap food makes you feel (hint: it makes you feel like crap). Eat well, especially when you’re sick!
6. DON’T think sanitizing your workspace is lame, there are germs there, you sit there for forty hours a week!
7. DON’T underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Watching Netflix in bed doesn’t count.
8. DO ask your pharmacist over-the-counter questions at your drug stores. I walk up to mine in Walgreens all the time and ask questions, they’re not just there for the heavy stuff.
9. DON’T forget germs can hide on your toothbrush and other daily tools right after illness. If in doubt, toss it and grab a new one. Do you really want to ride that sickness roller coaster one more time because you couldn’t bother to buy a new $4 toothbrush?
10. DO try to rely on herbal remedies whenever possible. Can’t sleep? Try drinking a tea with valerian root, knocks me right out, and it’s not addictive.
11. DO indulge in some comfort food once in a while. Really thick soups and popsicles got me through my rough spots, and made my throat go numb.
12. DON’T forget to carry hand sanitizer with you. Using it and sharing it with others made them feel a bit more comfortable being in my presence.
13. DON’T exercise if you think it will take you longer to recover, or if your doctor said not to.
14. DO exercise if you think you’re just being lazy and finding an excuse not to.
15. DO at least stretch while you’re ill, your muscles could become less flexible while you’re out of service, giving you a higher risk for injury when you do go back to the gym. It also reduces stress!
16. DO take your stress seriously. Part of the reason I got so sick was because of how stressed I let myself get over the last few months. Listen to yourself, talk to people, get sleep, eat well, and exercise.
17. DON’T forget your health comes first, take care of yourselves!