It seems counterintuitive, but your best day ever could actually be the day you stay home from work due to illness.
By taking a full day to care for yourself, instead of trying to push through an illness (and potentially spread your sickness to your colleagues!), you can be back to full health and full professional productivity in just twenty-four hours.
Sick Day Guidelines from the Experts
These hour-by-hour guidelines include recommendations from doctors, nutritionists and other health experts that will help you get the most out of your sick day.
When you wake up knowing that something just doesn’t feel right, call your employer right away to let them know you can’t come to work. The sooner you let them know, the sooner they can organize coverage for your absence.
Have a glass of water, turn off your alarm clock and then go back to bed. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system can’t protect your body from illnesses. Give your body the rest that it needs.
Even if you’re not hungry, a nutritious breakfast can boost your energy levels and support your immune system. Try making a smoothie with berries, a frozen banana, yogurt and orange juice. The berries contain antioxidants that help fight cell damage, the banana is thought to help heal sore muscles, yogurt is packed with probiotics that can help soothe an upset tummy, and the orange juice is full of cold- and flu-fighting Vitamin C.
It’s tea time! Health experts know that staying hydrated is key to a quick recovery. Avoid caffeinated drinks today, and stick to pure water or herbal teas instead. Peppermint tea is good for stomach problems, while lemon-ginger can help with sinus problems. Add a teaspoon of honey if you’ve got a sore throat.
Obviously, you’re not feeling up for a hike through the woods, but a little bit of fresh air and sunlight could boost your mood and your health. If you’ve got a balcony or patio, spend thirty minutes sitting outside with a good book. If you’re stuck inside, move your favorite chair close to an open window and raise all of the blinds.
Quickly check your work emails, but don’t send any replies. This will help you mentally prepare for your return but won’t drain your energy. If you really want to stay involved in professional activities, consider listening to a podcast or watching a documentary that relates to your career.
In 2000, a group of scientists studies the impact of chicken noodle soup on people suffering from colds and the flu. They found that chicken noodle soup was effective in relieving many of the symptoms associated with those illnesses, including headaches, runny noses and stuffiness. Sit down for a steaming-hot bowl of chicken noodle soup for lunch today, or try a plant-based carrot ginger version.
If you’re not seeing any improvement in your symptoms, you might want to consider taking an over-the-counter medication. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and ensure that your medicine has not expired.
If you’re feeling up to it, consider spending an hour or two sick-proofing your home. Use an antibacterial wipe to clean surfaces like your keyboard, door handles and television remote. Run your kitchen sponge and scrub brush through your dishwasher to kill any lingering bacteria. While you’re cleaning, add a few drops of tea tree or eucalyptus oil to the tray on your humidifier to make the air in your house that much healthier.
Take a break from all of that cleaning and rehydrate with a cool glass of coconut water. Coconut water contains electrolytes, which are essential when you’re losing fluids through sweating or digestive unrest.
Lift your spirits by curling up on the sofa with one of your favorite movies. Choose a comedy if you just want to laugh, or an inspirational biopic if you need a little bit of extra motivation to overcome your illness.
Make yourself an immunity-boosting stew for dinner. Combine ingredients like garlic, sweet potato, turmeric, ginger and leafy greens, then simmer in water, vegetable stock or coconut milk until everything is steamy and soft. These ingredients are recognized by registered dietitians as helping to cure existing ailments and prevent future health problems.
If you’re feeling ready to go to work tomorrow, take some time to prepare for the day ahead. Lay out a comfortable, professional outfit, and place your keys or purse close to the front door. Organize your breakfast ingredients so that you’ll be ready to make a healthy meal in the morning. If you’re feeling significantly worse, however, leave a phone message with your doctor to see if he or she can squeeze you in tomorrow.
Studies show that taking a warm (not hot!) shower before bed can help you fall asleep more easily and wake up less often during the night. Keep your hair dry with a shower cap, and try using a calming, lavender-scented body wash.
As you’re getting into bed, position your body for the best sleep possible. If you have a cold or flu, pile some pillows together to keep your upper body raised during the night. This will fight congestion and coughs. If you normally sleep with a partner, move into the guest room for the night to avoid passing your sickness back and forth.
Make it an early night by turning off your lights at 9:00 pm. Hopefully, this will give you a full eight hours of sleep, even if you have to get up in the night to use the washroom, take more medication or blow your nose. With any luck, you’ll wake up feeling like new!