Coping with work when you’re feeling sick
As I sit and write this article I am 13.5 weeks pregnant. For seven weeks now I’ve suffered extreme nausea. Nothing prepared me for how to cope in my business over the past two months. Here are some ways of coping with work when you're feeling sick.
Pre pregnancy, I felt well informed about the changes I would need to make to my business to allow me to balance what is important to me as a mother and what is important to me a business owner flying solo.
But there was no guidance on how to adjust my work demands, plans, expectations and routines to balance the needs of my business and the needs of my body.
The nausea persists from the minute I wake up in the morning until the minute I go to bed. As my day progresses, I feel worse rather than better. It is like having a two month hangover.
Naturally this makes it very difficult to have the mental and physical energy required for coping with work and running my business in the way I would like to.
I have a number of pregnant friends who say “you are SO lucky to work from home and have no one else to answer to”.
On one level they are right: I am lucky to have control over my day and to be able to curl up in bed when I become too nauseous to function. Still I feel intense internal pressure to keep my business running well, even though I cannot stay productive for an entire day.
"My friends don’t appreciate that there is no one else who can coach my clients for me, that I don’t have a team to delegate to, that I don’t get paid sick leave and that I am responsible for the well-being of my business."
My friends don’t appreciate that there is no one else who can coach my clients for me, that I don’t have a team to delegate to, that I don’t get paid sick leave and that I am responsible for the well-being of my business.
A few of the lessons I have learnt over the past two months for coping with work when you are feeling sick are:
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Accept illness is unpredictable
No day is ever the same. Just when I think I have my functionality pattern figured out, and my work schedule adjusted to match … it all changes again! I have had to accept this as a current fact of life.
The hardest thing for me to do was to adjust my expectations of myself and my business growth and success. I had a grand vision for growth and exciting new projects to develop and implement for in 2008. It was hard for me to accept that it would now take me longer to implement these plans or that the scale of them needed to be reduced.
This applies to business as well as personal life. There is finite amount of time each day where I feel functional. It is important that I use it on the things that matter most to me.
So, I have engaged a cleaner for the house so that I don’t need my energy for that. Meantime, dinner menus have become somewhat basic so that cooking at the end of the day is not time consuming. I have also learnt to say ‘no’ to extra meetings or activities that are not essential.
Do what you have to do and let go of the rest
Some days I will have four or five coaching clients, which takes a lot of energy. On these days nothing else appears on my “to do” list. My focus is being well enough to coach and nothing else matters. Often that means coaching a client, going back to bed, coaching a client, going back to bed ….Everything else can wait for another day.
I wait for the magic day when my ‘all day’ morning sickness disappears and I find the new energy that the second trimester of pregnancy promises to bring. Apparently this is just around the corner.
Until then I continue to do the best I can do within my business and respect the needs of my body. I look forward to continuing the journey of flying solo as my pregnancy progresses towards motherhood, when a whole new set of challenges will arise!