Sickness and Slacking

Now this is the kind of sickness I can get down with!

They say write what you know (whose they?) and I’m doing that in spades today for this late original article entry.

Basically, I’m sick. I tend to think I’m invulnerable and impervious to the effects of sickness around me but a few times a year I’m proven wrong (maybe cause I skip the flu shot). The holes in my biological armor shows and I get sick…I couldn’t even finish typing that part out without an unholy coughing fit emanating from my throat. Yikes.

But if there’s one thing that sickness can justify it’s slacking! You can feel a lot better about taking it easy on yourself because, quite simply, you don’t have much of a choice. If you’re like me and only moderately sick (perhaps on the high end of “moderately” but still) you can still feel a bit of guilt (I didn’t hang out with a friend today and they felt disappointed) but if you’re really not feeling it, then rest and relaxation is more or less prescribed by society.

And it’s interesting to note that this is one of the few shared cultural touchstones of American society in which laziness and being a slacker isn’t demeaned. Even if that’s not really what you would call it since slacking is more properly something we do when we want and not when we’re biologically forced into doing. Still, this is one example where it’s at least a little easier to fight the cultural stigma and programming around being lazy.

If you’re like me and feeling sick but not bedridden you’re in that tenuous sweet spot of having to justify to yourself why you’re fucking around so much but also why you’re not getting anything “productive” done. But especially on days where your mental health is not good and your sickness is only mild to moderate, I’d recommend some extra slacking.

It could be okay to mix it up a little and maybe get a few things done. For example, today I took a quick walk and back so I could get an errand done. I did a little bit of planning for how I was going to get a few things done tomorrow and I will hopefully be in better shape for tomorrow because of all of the rest and non-taxing things I did today.

That’s the hope of course since there’s no guarantee that my version of “taking it easy” (being on the computer pretty much all day) is the best answer. Depending on how sick you are, you may just want to lay in bed, drink some liquids and eat some food (if you can stomach it) and stay away from the flickering lights.

But you know, I’m not a doctor, so don’t take any of this as medical advice.

Probably should have mentioned that before, but I didn’t think about it.

In any case, slacking and sickness can go hand in hand in interesting ways. Unfortunately being sick can make us feel worse about ourselves. “Not only am I useless but I’m sick and useless!” And other similar bouts of chiding ourselves can make us feel even shittier about ourselves and what we can’t manage to accomplish given our own limitations.

As usual though, shame isn’t the answer. Telling yourself that you’re “useless” or anything of the sort is unlikely to help you get your tasks done any faster. It’s unlikely to make you any more interested in doing what your brain “wants” you to be interested (anxiety brain just wants you to be anxious and miserable, let’s be real). And this is the case whether you’re sick or not, so it’s certainly going to do you no favors while you’re sick.

One thing I wish society as a whole would learn is that if “rest and relaxation” are so vital for the body when we’re sick, why wouldn’t it be able to help us more generally? Of course society as a whole does seem to implicitly recognize much of the time that our time off from work is a grand luxury and a good thing. It seems to recognize that work itself is a burden, but also celebrates when we get new jobs. In most conversations I have with people while I’m at work itself, people seem exasperated with their jobs and are just glad to go on with their lives.

But just like things such as taxation, the government, capitalism, child labor in the third world and other systems of oppression, many people in the US seem to think it’s just the natural state of things. It’s hard to not feel sick to stomachs (metaphorically) at the apathy around us, but for some of us, it’s also hard not to embrace the same apathy.

Sickness (back to the biological sense) can bail us out of work…but only sometimes and usually we either need a doctor’s note or have to be really sick to justify it. Some bosses are laxer about this than others are. At the place where I work it’s technically encouraged for you not to come into work if you’re sick, but the practice is very different.

In practice, plenty of people come into work sick (or at least I do). Either because they don’t want to lose their jobs or because they simply can’t afford to take any days off. Or maybe their work-based insurance or corporate environment isn’t one where this is explicitly and repeatedly encouraged in meaningful ways.

Either way, I’ve used sickness or some sort of biological weakness stemming from internal issues as an excuse to slack off at work as well. It also feels like you can get away with more at work when you’re sick. Of course this isn’t always the case but at least in retail I’ve sometimes found that you can use it as a bit of edge-room for any minor mistakes you make. But the major ones are still likely to be inexcusable for most managers, so be weary.

Ultimately, you have to take care of yourself first. Sometimes you have to go in even when you don’t want to…but then that’s probably not a situation that’s secluded to just being sick, is it?

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