When to STOP Working and Give It a Rest

    August 26, 2009

    This week marked my one year anniversary. One year of getting disgustingly sick, that is.

    I may get the occasional stuffy nose or headache, but for the most part I remain a pretty healthy gal. But every year, I come down with something. And that something turns into a week of tossing my cookies, fighting a high fever, a terrible sore throat, a throbbing headache and just about every other ingredient you can imagine that turns into a truly awful existence.

    The worst part of my yearly illness is how stressed I become about getting everything done. I become obsessed with the blinking red light on my Blackberry, as I proceed to throw up and wonder who is emailing me. I attempt to follow my normal work routine as my head feels like it's floating away into a sinus-infected universe. I even write this blog post as I know I should be sleeping (so please excuse any typos or incomplete sentences).

    As I obsess on functioning as a normal person through my awful sickness, my husband says to me - ‘What are you - a doctor? Do your clients have 24-hour access to you? Why don't you just rest? Does anyone need you that badly?"

    Truth is...they really don't. But I somehow get this horrible feeling that if I'm not performing at peak level, the world as I know it will just crumble.

    OK, deep inside I know nothing will fall apart, I can't help but obsess over it. Then I begin thinking of all the times that this feeling really caused a major problem, including:

    • My dad died on a Friday night in the middle of June when I was 15 years old. Unfortunately, my school finals were that coming Monday. Instead of calling my teacher and telling them I needed to take my finals at a later date while I grieved/planned funeral arrangements, I set my grief aside and went to school like nothing happened. I took my finals. None of my teachers even knew something happened unless one of my friends told them.
    • When I was 22 I ate something with e coli and landed in the hospital. For 7 days, no one could figure out what was wrong with me. As my hourly pump of morphine entered my bloodstream, I was constantly distraught that I was missing something at work. Who would make my sales? Would my numbers be down? Would I be fired?

    Although I realize these are incredibly extreme cases, I also realize that I have a big problem - knowing when to give it a rest. I started researching this ‘resting' phenomenon and found the following interesting facts:

    • With the outbreak of swine flu, many experts are coming forward to tell the public to stay home and rest when you feel sick. It's not worth spreading the disease, and you need proper rest to get better.
    • It's important to set expectations with clients. While you should be dedicated to your business, you do plan to take time off or sometimes need to take off last minute for emergencies. According to this article, a contingency plan is essential for small business owners.
    • Regular breaks and understanding things won't fall apart without you are essential to better productivity and performance as discussed in this article

    So with this newfound research, I'm going to take my own advice. If I need to cancel a conference call tomorrow and rest, I'll do it. If I need to turn off the work exactly at 5pm, I'll do it. If I need to say ‘no,' more often, I'll do it. Work and life will go on; everything will be ok - even if I need to perform a little less that day.

    Check out Melissa's wellness blog at http://www.melissacassera.com

    Read Melissa's other blog entries >

Please Wait