Dear Lifehacker, I can feel a cold coming on, and I'm worried about getting behind at work and with all my other errands. How can I take a couple days off without getting behind on my life?
Title image remixed from Tancha (Shutterstock).
Feeling like you're about to get sick is almost as bad as getting sick itself, but the good thing is you can take care of a bunch of stuff before that inevitable sick day hits. Here's what you can do to keep yourself from falling behind while still giving yourself enough rest.
Prepare For A Sick Day Ahead Of Time
As we've talked about before, the best way to prepare yourself for a cold is to start battling it right away. Wash your hands a lot, drink lots of fluids and get out into the sun as often as possible. While it won't necessarily stop a cold or flu from coming on after it's already started, it certainly won't hurt.
Before you take a few days off, set up email auto-responders and let your co-workers know what you're doing before you leave. Obviously this doesn't work in all cases when you're suddenly surprised by a cold, but it does helps make for a stress-free sick day when you don't spend it feeling like a slacker.
When you're preparing, it's also good to get your sick day kit in order. Check and make sure you have all your illness supplies, including cough drops, cold medicine, and Tylenol. Preparing a sick day kit ahead of time makes it so you don't have to run to the grocery store groggy-eyed in your sweat pants at three in the morning. Image: Karl Baron.
Know What Works And What Doesn't
Once you're actually sick, it's time to just pamper yourself a little and ride it out. We've covered the best ways to deal with a common cold before and it boils down to knowing which home remedies work and which don't.
For example, gargling with salt water is great for a common cold, as is a little honey. Certain supposed cold-killers, like vitamin C, echinacea and zinc are a little more dubious, so if you're having trouble getting the energy to eat as it is, don't waste too much time worrying about those. Instead, get lots of rest, and keep your stress level down. Image: Karl Baron.
Give Yourself Room To Relax And Don't Overwork Yourself
Getting sick and then stressing about work just makes things worse (and vice-versa), but that doesn't mean you have to disconnect from work entirely.
If you weren't able to prepare yourself ahead of time to avoid doing any work on your sick days, set aside an hour to catch up on emails or phone calls. Keep the whole process as short as possible, and only deal with urgent matters. Everything else can wait until you get back to work.
As for your errands, see how many you can automate so you don't have to worry about them. Again, make sure you're only concentrating on the necessities. If that dry cleaning doesn't need to get done today, don't worry about it. Image: kellinahandbasket.
Clean Up And Get Back To Life
Once you start feeling better, you still have to find a way to return to normal life. Part of that is taking care of your surroundings. As Apartment Therapy points out, you want to give your house a good scrub down, including cleaning the bedding, tea kettles and all your knobs and handles.
As for getting back to work, we've discussed how to return to work (or school) after a break before and the same basic tips apply when returning from a string of sick days. When you get back to work, concentrate on the small stuff to get back into the flow of things, and then start tackling the bigger projects once you're ready. Image: Emergency Brake.
Getting sick stinks, but that doesn't mean you have to let it destroy your entire week. If nothing else, hopefully you can make the whole process a little more bearable.
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