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How to Not Feel Shame in Calling in Sick or Going on Stress Leave

I think it is fair to say that women find it hard to say no or to form boundaries and to prioritize themselves.

When it comes to nutrition, what I see often happening is a mother taking the time to prepare great food to feed their child but not making enough for themselves and thus not eating enough, eating scrappy leftovers, or eating something not nearly as healthy.

When it comes to calling in sick or taking care of ourselves when we are feeling ill, the same story is true. We plow through life ignoring the symptoms prompting us to slow down and care for ourselves. We keep chugging coffee, eating foods that are devoid of nutrients and when necessary to manage our never-ending headaches we pop Tylenol.

Deep breath ladies, what we really need is to stop and rest. Instead what often happens is we get worse.

Why is this happening? Well truthfully, we live in a society where Moms just aren’t allowed to get sick.

But what we need to do is honour our bodies and stay home! What we need is to do is make nourishing foods for ourselves and pour into us the way we pour into others...

I want to speak for a minute about the pressure you may feel for not being allowed to call in sick. A lot of corporations place weight on their employees' shoulders- you need to be at death's door if you plan on calling in sick.

But here’s what's wrong with this picture. A) If you take a day off at the beginning of symptoms, before you have really slide down the hill into illness, it will prevent you from getting worse and at the end of the year you will have taken less sick/personal days off. B) When you go to work sick, you are just spreading the germs to your coworkers, sharing the bugs that make more and more of us feel terrible and the company itself acquires more sick days across their employee pool.

Since the start of the pandemic, I feel like this fear or guilt of calling in sick has dramatically shifted for some of us. We don't feel guilty when we call in sick with covid symptoms because we all need to do our part to stop the spread.

But what about when it is not covid related? I bet you would still feel guilty calling in for symptoms such as:

-A regular flu, cold or headache

-High anxiety

-A gastric bug

-Extreme fatigue

-when mental health is low or when you notice your children need a day at home with their parents.

I love hearing that some businesses are giving their employees mental health hours now. For example, once a week you have a two-hour window to book doctor appointments, therapy appointments, go to the gym, etc. I know of two major banks in Ontario that are doing this. What I notice is greater employee engagement, fewer sick days overall in my clients (in these corporations) and it encourages other large industry heads to support their employees this way.

Let me talk for a second about mental health days... Now more than ever we need to have conversations about our mental health! Please hear me when I say: It's okay to say I am not okay today! It's ok to voice your need to take a break. When you voice your needs in regard to your mental health you can be more resilient when faced with life. When you rest when you need it instead of pushing through you will ride the waves of life far more smoothly. You will be more focused and will be able to deliver on your projects and get the work done.

Studies show that productivity and creativity both skyrocket when employees feel well-rested and taken care of.

So, if you are an employer reading this, make sure you have protocols in place that allow your employees to take time off appropriately. If you are an employee reading this and you feel like your employer could make things easier for you to take care of yourself, feel free to forward this link to them.

Remember: If we do not prioritize nutrition, water, exercise and sleep. If we do not do the things that soothe our nervous system and overall well-being, we will crash and burn. When we take a day to relax, rejuvenate and recover, we can give back to our immune system. When we listen to our inner compass everyone around us thrives.

That reminds me, if you are the type of person who is always catching the bug going around or has been told that they need to support their immune system, I have a whole nutrition guide to help with this! Check it out HERE!

Marissa, RHN

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