Years ago I had a mantra for those times when I was feeling not-so-hot but had a full schedule.
“Just get through x… just get through y…” I would say to myself.
At the end of whatever I needed to get through, I would collapse.
I remember having such a bad illness in high school – but still feeling like I needed to do everything – that I made it through an entire school day feeling so sick, cheered at a basketball game, and returned to the gym the next morning with my pillow in hand for a full-day cheerleading stunt clinic. I was committed to my team, and there was no way I was going to miss something for which I felt I needed to be present. Luckily, my coach allowed me to lay on the floor and rest rather than take part in tossing my teammates in the air. (I actually remember telling my math teacher that I needed to go see the nurse to lie down for a few minutes and when he asked why I didn’t just go home, I laughed. psht…adults.)
And then once I joined “the real world” I got a stomach bug so bad that I ended up in the emergency room. While I was waiting to be seen, I actually asked my mom to go to my office and get my laptop and bring it to me. I felt like I was letting people down by not being available to do my work, even if it meant that I would be physically in the ER with an IV hooked up to me, sending work emails.
Looking back on that moment, I am a little embarrassed.
But it was also at that point that I realized I would need to be kinder to myself.
I’m an adult now, and I have (somewhat) learned how to slow down. Even if it means having to miss a trip, a networking opportunity, a party – I need to put myself and my health first. I multi-task like no other 90% of the time, but it’s those times when my body is yelling at me to rest that I need to listen.
This week I had a dinner scheduled with friends. We plan this Christmas dinner months in advance each year since one of the girls is coming in from LA. But that day I got a migraine at work and went home early, fell asleep on the couch for 2 hours, and texted my friends to tell them I wouldn’t be able to make it to dinner. I felt terrible cancelling. But it’s the week of Christmas, I felt really sick, and I knew that pushing myself to go would mean that while I could see my friend (which I really wanted to do!), it could also mean I would maybe be passing on whatever I had, or maybe even not taking the time to rest would make me more sick just in time for Christmas Day.
Somewhere along the way – maybe after that day in the ER – I decided to give myself the leniency to do what I feel I need to do. Yes, I may let people down, but while true friends will be disappointed, they will understand! (And maybe even be thankful that I’m not showing up and spreading my germs.)
How do you handle having to cancel when you’re not feeling well? Do you keep going or do you stop and rest?
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