By Catherine Okafor
Take a moment and think about the last time you took a “sick day” at work. How long ago was it? Hopefully not too often and also not too long ago. I know you may be wondering where I’m going with this, so let me explain.
I literally just hit the “send” button as I sent my supervisor an email stating that I decided to stay in and rest and take a sick day. Why? Because, the sick monster that has been floating around has finally caught up with me. This weather has been up and down. One minute it’s cold and rainy and the next it’s sunny with a small gust of wind. Either way, I’ve been feeling sick for the past week and have neglected my body and haven’t been taking care of myself. Instead I’ve been pushing through it hoping that the cold would just run away from me. Not! Unfortunately, it has stayed with me through thick and thin.
But, the bigger question here is: “Why haven’t I been listening to my body and taken a day or two off to rest?” I’ve been pondering on this for just about the entire week and I finally realized why. It’s guilt. I simply feel bad and guilty for missing work. Why? Because I don’t want to let my team down. Because I don’t want my students to get behind on their scholarship applications. I could probably go on and on with the many reasons why work is more important than me taking out time for myself. With acknowledging my guilt, I’ve realized that I’ve done this before without thinking twice about it.
For years, I’ve rarely taken a sick day or vacation time from work. The last time I called into work was after the death of my aunt to attend her funeral service. Before that, it was back in 2015 when I was feeling too overwhelmed at work and decided to take a “self-care,” sick day. Even then it took me awhile to come to that decision and I had to seek out advice from one of my mentors on what to do during high stressful times and she suggested taking a self-care day to relax and recharge. That helped alleviate all the stress that was trapped within my body. I would suggest doing that for anyone dealing with any amount of stress.
Have you ever not taken your own advice that you usually give to others? For sure, I’m guilty of that and in this moment, I’m admitting that I failed to look out for my own well-being. When I take a deeper look, stress can lead to a lot of unhealthy habits and illnesses. For some, working out, listening to music and hanging out with friends are many of the ways folks take care of themselves. For some, taking the day off and resting is (sometimes) the easiest and most important thing to do. So the next time you’re like me and feeling sick or highly stressed, take time off and make time for you!
Catherine Okafor is currently leading monthly Writing for Self Care Workshops. For more information click HERE