So this blog was going to be about how rubbish I am at being ill, but Lottie Lane got there first and posted a similar blog yesterday, so instead this is a how to guide, for myself, and anyone else who is trying to get through these horrible winter illnesses. I will describe some of the annoying behaviours I show when I am ill and how I might try to do it better next time. Bloody hell, I’m such a perfectionist I even have to plan how to be ill better!
Right now I seem to be suffering with the same thing as everyone else- a sort of sinus-y, earachey, virus, not quite a cold, not quite a flu, not enough to completely floor me but enough to make me fall asleep every time I sit down and enough to make me sick every time I eat something that isn’t toast or honey and lemon. I smugly made it through the whole winter, two shows, a number of sleepless night flights, rehearsals, work and more, without a minutes rest. Then I gave myself no more than an hour of breathing room and it hit. Last week I continued to work, going to meetings in a strange non-lucid haze which on hindsight were a waste of time. My anxieties have sky-rocketed and I have been unable to think with any clarity. Quite frankly it has been rubbish.
I don’t know about you but it always takes me a while to pick up on the fact that I have more than just a sniffle, the amount of sleep is one indication, as is the stupid clumsy things that seem to start happening. For example I spilt a whole cup of honey and lemon into my rehearsal bag on my way to a dress rehearsal which included my costume and my script, not just a little splash the whole cup, glugging away whilst I attempted to pick it up. I cut through my finger with the lid of a tuna can and it won’t stop bleeding, I have been forgetting conversations and I completely forgot that I had done two dress runs the other day. Convincing myself that my iPhone was damaged due to me taking it to the beach when in fact I was charging it with the same dodgy cable all week despite having two others that worked perfectly.
How To #1
be aware, if you are continually doing out of character clumsy and mind-numbingly stupid things then perhaps, there is something wrong and you need to take a break, for your own sake and for others!
Dealing with the physical symptoms is usually the most straight forward, they can be uncomfortable and annoying, but once you know that you have a virus you also know that you just need to find things to help ride it out as quickly as possible.
How To #2
the main way to try to feel physically better is to sleep
I find this very easy when I am unwell, I have been lucky not to not be too blocked up in my nose so I can breathe, Night Nurse and Otrivine are helpful when I can’t breathe with a cold. The biggest thing with sleeping is giving in to it and not try to keep going at 100%. Once you have ascertained that you are not well you need to tell yourself that the rest is imperative, you know your body is going through a healing process if you sleep for a few hours during the day and then have no problem sleeping at night.
How To #3
In order to feel a bit better with a head cold, especially if I have to talk or present a lot is to drink a lot of honey lemon and ginger
I drink honey and lemon everyday anyway but it increases a lot when I am not well. As I mentioned above I drink a lot of honey and lemon, sometimes with some added ginger. I have also taken some cold and flu tablets and done some facial steaming with added tiger balm. In some ways I can see these things helping but equally this virus is dragging and I think that it is only going to go away on its own accord, when it is ready.
How To #4
Exercise only in moderation, stretching, yoga and then more sleep!
Exercise is very healing for me, particularly if I am feeling achy and tired or if I am feeling stressed (both of which I feel when I have a virus). The frustrating thing about this kind of illness is not knowing what to do to make it better, if I don’t exercise I become more and more lethargic and stiff, also I’m sure that exercise can stimulate the immune system, I am also scared that if I don’t exercise then I might slip into some post-viral thing which petrifies me. But perhaps by exercising before I am well that is more likely to cause an ongoing fatigue. However, I have to tell myself that this is not the solution in this situation. Just a bit of yoga or stretching but nothing more than that, the body needs its energy to fight the virus!
How To #5
Don’t stress over taking time away from work
As I have described above my mind goes to pot when I am unwell. When I work, I am focused and intense, I make strong decisions and I need to trust myself. If I don’t feel well enough to trust myself then I get very stressed and anxious. I hate working when I am not on form, when my mind is all over the place, I think that it causes me to make bad decisions and get unnecessarily fearful about things. I have tried to hibernate this weekend but it doesn’t stop me thinking and stressing about work, so perhaps I would have been better off doing some? However, as I mentioned above I think that I made a poor decision to go to meetings last week, nothing has moved forward and I ended up spending a lot of time commuting, in the cold and rain, exhausting myself even more. I should have taken the time to heal. Belief in myself is extremely important in this situation, I have to know that when I am well I am going to kick ass at work so I just have to ride it out the best I can.
How to #6
Having a few days off being ill does not mean you are a failure in life!
The worst thing about being ill is the stress of feeling like my life is being wasted, everyday I am ill I am a hinderance to my own goals and to others around me. I work freelance so I only have a small amount of wiggle room before I start to let down clients and that is a big problem to me, I’m sure that people on PAYE also feel frustrated and like work is running away from them when they are ill, but I don’t have sick days in my contracts and I can’t afford not to work them. So every hour I am ill is an hour of me time that is being stolen away, knowing that makes me even more stressed and angry. At busy times, like I have at the moment, every hour that I end up sleeping off a virus is just more pressure on the things that need doing and letting down other people, or not being able to chase people to ensure that they are working effectively. This is the big pressure that I put on myself when I am unwell. The only advice I can give myself in this is to just relax, being wound up is not going to help anyone, the rest is necessary to make sure I am back on top form as quickly as possible, but that is easier said than done.
Also is there a point when I should go to the doctor? My earache is not clearing, but the fever seems to have gone. And then there is the big question, to work or not to work?
I think that this Hello Giggles list of things that make you happy, is a pretty good place to start. Some of these things can be done without exerting physical energy and they may just do some de-stressing whilst allowing rest and recuperation.
For everyone else who is also feeling rubbish, get well soon, and let me know if there is anything that works well for you.