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Are sick days the best thing that can happen to make you stop?

The truth about being a type-A person and what you can do about it

Do you know who a type A personality person is?

The ever-so-insightful Wikipedia defines a type-A individual as “an individual as outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organised, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management”.

Reading between the lines, type A people are proactive driven, motivated, and also very much prone to burn-out. Not being productive can seriously tap into their impatient nature. 

How do I know so much about type A people? 

You are looking at one, right now.

Or, for the sake of the device of writing, you have just virtually met one. I really struggle with being sick. I mean big time. 

In a very funny twist of fate, I am the kind of person who, in the busiest time of her last 2 years (which coincided to when I published my debut book, Make an Impact), got sick a lot. Subsequently, she pushed through it a lot before giving up to doing sweet, sweet nothing. 

When your brain goes 20,000 mph, it’s hard to cope with the idea that your body can be smarter than you, and hit the panic button. Our bodies are just smart that way. 

Body over mind

Without me actually listening to my body and just stopping, I would have not been able to learn the magical art of reviewing my workload. Or, even more importantly, assess the direction of my work and my projects. As someone running multiple businesses with a team, on top of also writing books, consulting and speaking, I had to learn the art of finding balance and grace in the way I structure my day. 

Without those days stuck in bed, most likely reading a book, drinking almost illegal amounts of ginger and lemon and going to sleep at 9 pm, I would have not been able to find the balance I needed. 

Once again, I am not saying it’s easy to find the positive in the days you cannot function, especially when deadlines are approaching. However, we rarely take the time to check in with our bodies these days. 

Our workouts are functional. Our mindfulness time is carefully slotted in between coffee and commuting. Everything serves a purpose – nothing is truly coming from a genuine place of wonder.

Sickness, boredom and creativity

I talked before about the magical power of walks. I love going on walks and getting lost in my writing. I even deleted my social apps at some point. 

Walks are a godsend for my writing and creativity. So are “screen-free” evenings (something I am still to coerce my boyfriend into).

I also found that, in a very extreme level, being sick became a reminder of how much our brain can give back to us when we get out of our own head, and we let our bodies (and minds) rest. 

Realistically speaking, sick days are not something freelancers or business owners really see as an option. I have had people before telling me they were “worried about taking time off as they may lose their inspiration and drive”. 

What if just being, instead of doing, is what we need to feel better, and overall perform better?

The end of “struggle porn”

What is struggle porn, you may ask? I came across it in a Medium article: “a masochistic obsession with pushing yourself harder, listening to people tell you to work harder, and broadcasting how hard you’re working.” (Nat Eliason, No More “Struggle Porn”)1

The article is a bit extreme at times (which is something you’ll find more and more in the writing business), yet it has definitely some points we can easily relate to. Working hard is needed, but rest is damn sexy too. 

We shouldn’t fetishise struggling, and we certainly should not be consuming content only that makes us feel bad about how hard we’re not working when we are sick.

Broadcasting how hard we are working, how tired we are, being proud of over-working is not sustainable. I was talking to a client, who told me “I used to be proud of never taking a sick day in 13 years, now I am ashamed of saying it”.

All in all, I believe that we should all take more sick days. We should listen to our body and thank us for giving us the right signals. 

I personally always take one or two days off around my period because I am a woman, and I honour that time my body is asking me to rest and reset. It sounds like a small thing, but it was a huge step for me. 

That, combined with a general kindness towards myself, has to lead me taking time off around busy life periods (see moving house, travelling for personal reasons outside holidays). Those 3 days that I take around those times saves me one or two weeks of physical pain and mental fatigue.

I was the type A person who worked 60 hours per week (as you may remember from Make an Impact). I traded impatience fo kindness, anxiety for self-respect, and the hustle for organic growth – and all I have to thank for it are the days I spent with kleenexes on my bedside table.

  1. Nat Eliason, No More “Struggle Porn”, Medium, 2018, https://medium.com/@nateliason/no-more-struggle-porn-202153a01108 ↩︎
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