I wanted to write this blog as it may be something you identify with. I have recently taken some time off from work due to illness, I ended up taking almost three weeks off work. It wasn’t a serious illness, but a nasty virus which meant I couldn’t go to work.
When it became obvious that I really was not functioning very well, I was in a state of denial and saying to myself ‘I’ll be back at work by the end of the week’, ‘I’ll be fine, it is just a cold’. As the days went on, the worse I felt and the more anxious I became. I knew logically I needed to rest but emotionally it was hard to listen to the logic. Can you identify with this?
The battle between our head and our feelings.
If you are someone who struggles to take unplanned leave from work or there is a sudden change in your routine it can often leave you feeling anxious and worried. Perhaps you are worried about the implications of taking time off or maybe you are worried about letting other people down?
The trouble is when we have unplanned leave, we fight against it and it can make us feel worse.
Oxygen mask analogy.
Years ago, when I first worked in the NHS as an Assistant Psychologist, a Clinical Psychologist used this wonderful analogy in the groups we use to facilitate.
When you are on a plane, the cabin crew talks you through the safety procedures and if you have experienced flying before, the cabin crew will always explain the importance of placing your own oxygen mask on first before you put on anyone else’s. Any idea why?
Well, in order to help other people more efficiently, we need to help ourselves first i.e. place on our oxygen mask first.
This is an analogy I often use with my clients and when I was ill, I realised I needed to put on my metaphorical oxygen mask, which meant taking time out, resting and looking after my physical health.
So, the next time you feel anxious or stressed due to unplanned leave or sudden change in routine, how will you put on your oxygen mask, and if you do, what impact will it have?
I also think the oxygen mask analogy is not just for when we have unplanned leave, it can be something we can do on a regular basis, here are some ideas of putting on your oxygen mask:
Going for a walk
Catching up with a friend
Sitting and drinking a cup of tea
Cooking your favourite meal
Watching something funny on the tv
If we can bring some of these type of activities into our lives, then we are less likely to feel under pressure when we need to take time off.