Today I chose to listen to my body.  I canceled my appointments and entrusted my graduate psychology students to the guidance of my co-teachers.

If your reaction is “So what?” then you can be my teacher for this piece of the journey.  Somewhere in your life you learned to accept illness as an indicator that you need to stop activity, rest and recover.

I didn’t even begin to learn that lesson until my breast cancer diagnosis at age thirty.  It was a loud wake up call that sounded an alarm about the dangers of  my increasingly busy lifestyle.

Listen to Symptoms

After eighteen years of trail and error attempts to discern the difference between “stay at home” and “keep going” symptoms, I now understand that symptoms indicate an imbalance in my body’s self-regulating system.  My body wants to be well.  It cries out for help through symptoms.

Some symptoms–rosacea on my cheeks, constipation, tension in my neck–are quiet whimpers that don’t demand I stop.  But they do invite me to pay attention to what I’m eating and drinking, my sleep and exercise patterns, and a host of other basic physical needs.  Oftentimes a simple adjustment in one of these areas eliminates the problem.

The fatigue I felt two days ago, the sore throat and mild head and body aches that appeared the next morning, and the cough that showed up last night, are louder cries.   They tell me that stopping just might be a good idea.

Create a Health Supporting Lifestyle

I made a decision after my bout with breast cancer to make my health a priority.  I created a lifestyle that allows me to take time off when my body needs it and to allot a percentage of my income for products that support my body’s efforts to be well in spite of all the challenges I’m up against living in of one of the most populous cities in the world.

I’ve had seasons of both success and struggle with maintaining a health supporting lifestyle.  My inner compulsion to prove my self worth through productivity (how many people I help, how many presentations I give, how much money I make) coupled with external support for all the activity (happy clients and students, happy community groups, happy bank account) reinforce my often too busy lifestyle.

There’s Always A Reason Not To Stay Home

Reasons to not stay home when sick abound:

  1. I can’t afford it.
  2. I’m out of sick days.
  3. I have a deadline to meet.
  4. I’ll miss an important meeting.
  5. They (fill in the blank) are counting on me.

The truth is–nobody is better off when you or I show up as expected but cough, sneeze and spread our germs around.  I don’t care if Dr. Oz or the Surgeon General supports the frequently touted line “I don’t think I’m contagious anymore”– it’s just not a loving way to show up in our lives.

That’s my take on staying home when I’m sick.  If you have something to say about that, I’d love to hear your take on it!