Getting (a little bit) ill this winter could be a blessing in disguise

When we get ill we need to listen to what our body is saying, but do we really?

It can be hard in this busy, busy world to stop even for a minute but sometimes that decision is taken away from us. Could getting a cold be a blessing in disguise?

This week I’ve had a cold, or cough, or sore throat or whatever it is. It’s not serious but it’s been enough of a bug to knock me off my feet. When I look back to Sunday night when it first came on I’m amazed to realise this was my first reaction,

Oh no, what will I do about work? I’m so busy and it’s nearly Christmas. This is so annoying!

I’ll bet that’s the reaction most of you get when you come down with a winter illness too right? I was amazed because my first reaction, from a place of self-love, should have been,

How can I look after myself? What do I need to get better?

Now, I work in a lovely company, so there is no pressure for me calling in sick - it was a pressure I gave to myself. So, now on top of feeling ill, I was also feeling guilty and stressed. My body was shutting down to fend off the cold and I was adding even more challenges on top! Crazy!

Why can’t we slow down and just be ill?

So during the week I’ve been trying to observe my own behaviour. Here’s some interesting stuff I learned.

  • I stopped, but only for as long as I thought was ‘acceptable’. I thought I had a major breakthrough by taking a couple of days off work. I sat on the sofa and binge watched the X-files. Yet when I felt a bit better (because I had been resting obvs) I went back into work. Not only that but I also went back to a super long 6am-12pm day travelling too. I was knocked back - I didn’t see that coming??? Doh!

  • I allowed previous commitments to override my health. So, I did some lovely things, like visit London and then attend a Josh Groban concert. They were really nice things to do and had been organised and paid for (can you feel the pressures mounting as I say that?). The fact is I still let things I had agreed to do whilst feeling well interfere with getting better. I see this habit of over-responsibility in me all the time. I’m working on being more flexible around my commitments.

  • I added unnecessary complexity and blamed myself. At 43 I’m noticing changes to my body for sure. But I kept thinking this week, so is this me getting ‘old’? Am I only this ill because I’m over 40? Essentially I started to ask myself ‘is this my fault?’. Talk about making a situation worse eh?

What illness has taught me

Unless it’s a hangover, it’s not your fault. Feeling guilty and worrying about what you ‘should do’ only makes things worse.

Don’t assume other people are uncaring cynics. Give your boss and everyone else the benefit of the doubt. They want what’s best for you and they don’t automatically assume you are skiving off. BUT learn when to say ‘No!’, people who pressure you to do more when you’re ill are just not hearing you.

Listen to your physical body. I was supposed to go to my yoga class and I just knew I was going to cough and struggle. I knew my body just needed to stay put and rest - despite loving yoga. Illness is a direct warning from your body to your brain - listen to it!

Love yourself. What would you do and say if your loved one was ill? Why don’t we talk to ourselves in the same way?

Leave the big stuff until you’re better. That includes work, decisions, conversations, projects and anything else. I fell into the trap of reacting in a heightened way to a situation I was in, I simply wasn’t capable.

I really hope none of you get the winter bugs this year, but everything is a learning opportunity. Take the time to look at your behaviour around your health. How can you be well now? How can you look after yourself if you should become unwell?

Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy winter!


Kelly Herrick is a coach & collaborator who helps people access more freedom & joy. She is also the strategic lead in an international design agency, a painter and mum of two boys.

Please get in touch and let me know your thoughts. You can find me on Facebook or Instagram at @iamkellyherrick. Or through the website kellyherrick.com.

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