8 Hacks for When You Are Sick at Work

The weather just got chilly here and now everyone seems to have a cold. But how do you survive the flu season when you can’t afford to take the day off? Here are 8 hacks for when you are sick at work.

1. Use your lunch break to sleep
When you are sick it is actually a good idea to eat less. You see digestion takes up a lot of vital energy and when you are sick you need that energy to go to fighting off the germs. Now I am not saying don’t eat anything. Fruits and vegetables are great. But, keep the heavy foods to a minimum.

You may need less food but you also need more sleep. Usually we get an hour lunch break and this is the perfect time to go and have a power nap. Science has shown that a 20 minute nap taken during the middle of the day is the same as getting over two hours of sleep during the night. However, you do not want to get more than about 30 minutes at nap time because then it will be too hard to wake up.

I suggest going down to the park (if it is warm) and having a sleep in the sun. The sun has a very physical impact on how well we feel and a few moments of rays can make a massive difference. At least get outside and clean your airways out with some fresh oxygen.

2. Drink green tea
Green Tea has been used by the Chinese and the Japanese for thousands of years. They have long considered it a medicine – not just a tea. And modern science is starting to back this up. Recent studies showed that those who drank green tea were up to 60% less likely to develop cancer. Green tea is fully of antioxidants and is a very relaxing way to detox your body everyday. When I get sick I try to drink two or three cups per day and it always makes me feel a little better.

Creative Commons License photo credit: ms.Tea

3. Drink a lemon, ginger and honey tea
In this post I introduced the Lemon, Ginger and Honey Tea. It is a hot drink that I learned when I was in Bodhgaya in India. I was told it was an ancient Indian combination and it was a powerful cold and flu fighter and preventer. They were right. It fixed my cold up a lot faster than normal and I haven’t had a bad one since – even when everyone else is sick.

4. Take a load off
Throughout the years at work you have probably clocked up a lot of favors. Every now and then we do things for people and they say “I owe you one”. Well, now is the time to call in that favor.

Go and look around the office and find someone who owes you a favor and ask them to help you with some of your work. Nine times out of ten they will be happy to lend a hand. It is a good way to make friends as it is a mutual helping – explain that you will help them next time they get sick.

5. Make a deal with the boss
One of the best things you can do is go to your boss and STRATEGICALLY explain to him/her why you need some of your work load assigned to someone else. Here is how you do it.

Go to your boss and explain that you are really quite sick but didn’t want to miss a day of work because you didn’t want to let the team down. Explain that you know how much pressure everyone is under and couldn’t live with yourself if you had a day off and left them in the lurch. Then explain that despite coming into work you underestimated how sick you really were and really would appreciate some help because you don’t want to produce poor quality work.

Your boss will love it.

Showing that you are a team player is a big advantage but also knowing when to ask for help counts for some points. This strategy allows your boss to see that you are trying but need some assistance.

6. Make use of “toilet” breaks
Sometimes you need a break when you are sick but you can’t exactly lay down at your desk. My girlfriend mentioned that she uses up her toilet breaks when she is sick by heading down to the cubicle, placing a rolled up jumper against the wall and having a short nap. You could probably get away for ten minutes at a time like this.

7. Give yourself an allotted time to be sick
One of the best things you can do when you are sick at work is take a short break and give yourself an allotted time to be sick. Just sit there for five minutes and groan and moan and feel awful. After the allotted time is up you should compose yourself, take a few deep breaths and head back to work revitalized and full of bravery.

8. Meditate on compassion
His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says that if you want to have the inner strength of a warrior you need to develop compassion. One of the best times to meditate on compassion is when you are sick.

If you are feeling lousy you can think about the fact that there are people out there who are feeling a lot worse than you are. This should give you a renewed sense of energy and vitality – a sense that you should keep working hard because things aren’t that bad.

The next way you can meditate on compassion is by the using the buddhist practice of Tong Len. Tong Len means “sending and taking” and is where you use your breath as a tool to increase compassion.

Firstly, breathe in an imagine that all the suffering in the world is coming in to your body and dissolving. You take on all the suffering of others so that others don’t need to experience it. Secondly, when you breathe out all your happiness and health goes out to others and makes them all healthy and joyful. Finally you make the aspiration that buddhist makes whenever they are sick:

“May all sentient beings’ sicknesses ripen on me right now while I am sick. May this sickness purify all sentient beings of their illnesses right now.”

top image:Creative Commons License photo credit: Lost in Scotland

10 thoughts on “8 Hacks for When You Are Sick at Work

  1. Great ideas here. I think going for a sleep in the park sounds awesome when I am sick at work. Too bad I am usually sick when it is raining or snowing!

  2. Another quality post with some useful tips. Thanks for keeping the posting frequency up. Most other sites with in depth articles on publish once a week so I really love checking in on a site that updates daily. That is what feed is for!

    Keep it up!


  3. Don’t get me wrong, I love this site and it features highly in my rss reading but don’t you think it’s a little irresponsible to encourage people to go to work when sick? I live in london and can you imagine all the germs transmitted on the tube by all these ill people dragging themselves into work in a martyrly fashion? Not to mention having to sit in close proximity to others germs all day.
    Surely people would be better off taking a day at home to recover properly as going into work will only drag out the illness longer? There aren’t very many people who can’t afford to take a day off for illness, that’s what sick pay is for!
    If I was a boss I’d probably be more angry at the ill person for showing up. Keep your germs at home!

  4. Jess – I agree with you 100% that it is better to stay home if you are sick.

    However, having said that, there are a number of people who read this site who are in fast paced corporate environments where a day off simply isn’t possible. Sometimes a day off would mean a lost million dollar contract – these people simply don’t take days off.

    But – it is better to take a day off if you can.

    Oh – and remember, not every country has sick pay as ingrained as we do! In India if you don’t go to work your family doesn’t eat!


  5. I take your point (although I think it’s safe to assume that the bulk of your readership is western).

    Forgive the rant, I think it’s just a topic I feel quite strongly about as I used to get ill a lot and thought it was just my poor immune system. However I vowed that where possible I would avoid touching handrails (especially on the underground) or door handles. I’ve also have recently started working in a closed office with one other person instead of open plan and I haven’t been ill for months!

    I still think your tips are great though and I hope people reading this don’t think I’m being overly negative…

  6. This is a great post. I have been fortunate not to get sick this year (even living in the cold midwest), but I am one of those unfortunate folks that missing a day of work isn’t really an option.

    Another hack is staying hydrated. I know that you have listed Green Tea but in between it is important that you are drinking water. This helps maintain a proper body temperature and ensure that you do not become dehydrated (which is common with illnesses).

    Personally, I keep a large plastic glass in my desk that I use the tap to refill when I am feeling ill.


  7. Do a favour to your colleagues: when you are sick stay at home in your bed two or three days instead of going to work spreading flu around the office…

  8. I’m enjoying these articles but it’s very distracting to keep reading ‘lay down’ when you mean ‘lie down’ …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove that you're human *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Quest All Access.jpg