Giving Yourself Permission to Be Sick

As entrepreneurs and professionals, we rarely allow ourselves time to be sick. We are so busy running around with everything we must do that we barely give ourselves time to rest. And when we do inevitably get sick, we sometimes have no choice but to take time off. We might take a day or two off, but the thoughts of everything we must do, continue to circle around our brain because we feel guilty for stopping for even one second.

I have been sick for over two weeks now with a strong virus (not COVID-19). Over those two weeks, the sickness forced me to take one day off each week. After each of the initial days I took off, I thought I was in the clear, but I was not. I had two or three days of no symptoms, and then I would have to stay in bed all day the next day recovering. The first time I had to stay in bed, I felt guilty, but I had to keep reminding myself to give myself permission to lie down and wait.

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

By the second day, I was practiced at giving myself the space to recover. I canceled all my meetings with no guilt. I discovered that nothing happened when I did that. Yes, some things have not moved as quickly as they would have in an alternate universe, but then again, we are not machines. We cannot go nonstop.

We have physical bodies, which need to recover and need care and nourishment. They need food, rest, and sometimes, they break down, which requires healing.

Our culture has this idea that we are invincible, able to keep going at top speeds, no matter what. The irony is that we are better when we rest. When we allow for the natural rhythms of organic, physical bodies to take place, we can do so much more.

Plus, interestingly, being sick gives us time to think. Much like a vacation, though admittedly more unpleasant, being sick allows all the secondary elements to fall away and uncovers the essential. When you are ill and cannot work, you discover what truly depends on you and what does not. This information is useful because our responsibilities shift all the time.

If I had gotten this virus two years ago, the data I would have obtained would have not been the same as what I got today. Hopefully, it will be different from the information I would get in two years.

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

What did I learn? I learned that a lot of my time is spent on projects I have chosen and which make me happy. I also learned that my schedule is moving in the direction I want, but I still have some ways to go. Furthermore, I innovated. I have been meeting with two of our teams almost every day because we are working on projects. They are new teams, and I have been training them in project management. Because I could not meet with them as often as we had been meeting before I feel ill, we came up with some workarounds. The main change was that I empowered them more to move forward on their own. That was the eventual goal, but I had not realized they were already ready or almost there before my illness. Now, I will not be meeting as often with them, even after recovering from my virus.

Being sick is not all bad. Take the time to recover when your body asks you to take a step back; you will be glad you did.


Pamela Ayuso is an author and the co-founder and CEO of Celaque. She is a real estate entrepreneur and developer who has executive leadership experience in two of the most successful real estate developers in Honduras — managing operations at Alianza and leading Celaque. Celaque develops office and residential buildings and manages a broad portfolio of properties. Pamela’s focus is on growing Celaque into a model for the 21st-century company.

In addition to her role as CEO at Celaque, Pamela is the author of Amazon best-selling book, Heptagram: The 7-Pillar Business Design System for the 21st Century. She offers practical business and personal development insights for other entrepreneurs and business leaders on her blog and LinkedIn. Her husband and her three wonderful daughters inspired the story of her first children’s book, Alicia and Bunnie Paint a Mural.       

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