Switch gears when needed

When you get sick with a cold or you are feeling down emotionally, take it as a sign to switch gears. Rest, listen to your body, take care of the most important things, and re-group. It often results in a clear mind, boosted productivity, and a fresh outlook on life.

It has been noted that young children often achieve significant developmental milestones after an illness. I have witnessed a case of it myself when my toddler had a week-long cold, five of those days with a fever, when he wanted to do nothing but rest, breastfeed, and be held. As he got better, within two weeks his conversational skills in both Russian and English have improved so significantly that even daycare teachers mentioned it to me with surprise. His listening comprehension has gotten much better, as well as his ability to follow directions in various craft activities and reading.

Now that I don’t plow through illness as I’ve learned to do when I was a child (staying home from school sick almost never happened), I rest when I need to and work when I can. I find that I accomplish more, feel better, and come out on the other side with renewed energy and fresh ideas. It helps not to leave things to the last minute, so that you do leave yourself some room to rest when you need to, instead of working on an important project due the next day while being sick.

It helps to get out of the routine, drop non-essential activities, and use whatever existing resources you’ve got. Have soup in the freezer? No need for cooking. Have someone who can take the kids for a couple of hours? Call them up. Have meetings coming up where your presence is not essential? Drop them. If you have mental energy, put your thoughts together in an email and send it to the meeting so they can aid the discussion. Take a day off work, or work from home if you can. Removing the commute, office noise and interruptions, temperature and humidity variations, bright lights, getting dressed, showering, and all those other things that come with working outside of the home will make it much easier on you, if you still must put in a full workday.

If you have time, pick up a book to read for pleasure, watch a quiet film, do a puzzle, take a bath – do something that is only about you and lets you drift away from reality. Your mind can rest from all the logistics of work and home management. Even an hour to yourself can make it much easier to face the rest of the day’s errands.

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