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Finally decide to take a sick day? Unwinding can be difficult for some, but we’re here to provide tips and tricks on how to survive that downtime and give your body the break that it needs.

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December 3, 2019

You wake up and it instantly hits you. That tension in your head, you can’t seem to clear your throat, and your nose feels clogged up. You just don’t feel right, but can you push through another busy day? Often times, we focus so much of our efforts on taking care of others and forget to check in on ourselves.

How to Know When You Need to Take a Sick Day

woman blowing her nose into a tissue

We work hard throughout the year to save up those vacation days so how do we know when it’s time to sacrifice one to stay home and take a sick day? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all employees should stay home if they are sick until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone.1 You should also consider taking a sick day if you are vomiting, experiencing muscle aches, or if you feel fatigued.

How to Minimize the Spread of Germs

MedExpress offers a free educational outreach program called Germy Hands where we educate elementary-aged children on germs and the importance of hand washing. During this presentation, we ask children, "Should we go to school when we are sick or should we stay home?" and their answer is always simple – "no!" If it is so easy for the children to get to that conclusion, why is it that adults struggle to make that decision and stay home when we are unwell? Children don’t want to get their friends at school sick, and we shouldn’t want to get our co-workers sick either. The CDC recommends following these steps to minimize infecting others²:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put your used tissue in a waste basket.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. 

How You Can Relax and Rejuvenate

a sick person with their feet on a coffee table with used tissues and a tea cup sitting nearby

Everyone chooses to relax differently. For some, it could be a full day of napping, a good book, a new series to binge, or a warm bubble bath. Whatever your "thing" is – make time for it and give your body a break. Your first step is to calm your body down, and then your mind. The University of Michigan recommends trying breathing exercises for relaxation because the way you breathe affects your whole body.3 Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress. After your body and mind start to wind down, keep that zen by focusing on your breathing patterns and if you are up for it, try out some meditation. If you’re a newcomer on this relaxation technique, look for some online resources to help you get started – some even have mobile apps.

Other ways to help rejuvenate your body during a sick day include eating a bland diet and drinking plenty of water. Your body needs to hydrate and replace the fluids and electrolytes lost while you were sick. When it comes to food, be smart about what you are putting into your body as it fights off those germs. Try to limit eating sugary and processed foods and focus on healthy fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients. It might be a hard choice to pass up that chocolate ice cream with the rainbow sprinkles, but you need to make healthy choices. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to surviving that sick day! And if your symptoms just don’t subside or they continue to get worse, MedExpress’s full medical team is ready to help – open 8-8, no appointment necessary.

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References:

1 CDC: Stay Home When You Are Sick. Last updated April 9, 2019. Accessed July 23, 2019.

2 CDC: Coughing & Sneezing. Last updated July 26, 2016. Accessed July 30, 2019.

3 University of Michigan: Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. Last updated June 28, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2019.

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