How to Cope at Work When You're Sick
Are you feeling sick today but you absolutely must go to work? There are some things that you can do to preserve your energy, be somewhat productive, and avoid spreading your germs to your co-workers.
Important reminder! People with highly contagious diseases such as measles, mumps, chicken pox, or any other critical illness that has been identified as part of a pandemic, should not be going to work. If in doubt, call your doctor, hospital, or other health authority for more information.
If you work with vulnerable populations such as seniors, children, and anyone with compromised immunity, you should not be going to work with the cold or flu.
Does your employer require you to provide a doctor's note when you take a sick day?
Recipe Rescue: Chicken Noodle Soup
Have you ever done this: Pushed yourself to go to work even though you were feeling as sick as a dog? Were you afraid that if you didn’t show up to work you’d lose your job, fall behind or get yelled at by the boss? Most of us have done it -- gone to work even though we were pretty sure that we were coming down with a cold or flu.
Some employers insist that workers provide a sick note for taking just one day off of work. Unfortunately, that means that many people would rather go to work sick for one day that have to spend their day sitting in a doctor's office with a relatively benign cold.
If you're worried that you can’t afford to miss even one day of work, here are some tips to help you make it through the day when you're feeling ill.
1. Check your medications first. Before you go to the office sick, be fully aware of the effect that over-the-counter medications or prescriptions can have on you. If drowsiness, nausea or dopiness are common side-effects for you when you take cold and flu medications, it would be prudent to try some natural remedies (chicken noodle soup). If you do decide to take medications that make you drowsy, stay home. You should not be going to work if your ability to drive, operate equipment properly, make sound decisions or be alert in hazardous situations is impaired in any way. Stay home and don’t put yourself, your co-workers, or your clients at risk.
2. If you do decide that you're well enough to go to work and your reflexes and mental alertness aren’t hindered, be prepared to defend your decision to come to work feeling sick. Although your co-workers may be glad that you're there to pick up the slack and do your part, don’t be surprised if your co-workers also avoid you. They don’t want to pick up your germs and get sick themselves – they're likely worried about their own job security, too. If you can work on solitary projects on your own, do so. No one wants to sit in a confined meeting room while you cough and sneeze and sniffle.
3. Be a clean freak. Don’t spread your germs. Wash your hands frequently; wipe down your desk and phone with a sanitizing wipe. Use your own phone and don’t touch other people’s phones, pens, keyboards or other equipment.
4. Be gentle with yourself. Recognize that by coming into work under the weather, you're not going to be as productive and full of energy as you normally are. Set realistic goals that you can accomplish. Prioritize the tasks that need to get done and leave the other tasks for another day when you're feeling better.
5. Save your energy. Sit down and try to get comfortable at your desk. Group your tasks together so that you're not running to the photocopier every five minutes. Anything you can do to conserve your energy will keep you from making yourself feel even worse.
6. Stay hydrated and eat a wholesome lunch and snacks. Sip a cup of herbal tea, water or vitamin-C packed juice throughout the day to stay hydrated and help flush that cold or flu out. Feed yourself well throughout the day with vitamin and fluid packed foods such as low sodium chicken or vegetable soups, watery fruits, a fresh salad with juicy tomatoes. Avoid high salt, high sugar processed foods.
They say that it takes three days to get a cold, three days to have a cold and three days to get over a cold. That’s over a week of feeling under the weather. For most people, taking nine days off work to get over a cold is just not possible and we will probably have to head to the office when we are still feeling sick and tired. If you must go into work, be gentle with yourself, slow down and if possible, head home early.
Keep your hands to yourself when you are sick.
© 2012 Sally Hayes