Returning to work after serious illness
Everyone (and I mean everyone) will offer you advice about what to do or not do. You must decide what is right for you. Sometimes returning to work quickly can give you the sense of normality you need to help you get some control back. At other times your body and mind will tell you to wait. Be self-aware and tune into you.
2. Expect sympathy (for a while).
People will genuinely care about you; others may rubberneck in the first instance because your story is more interesting than their own. Just be prepared for people to resume ‘normal operations’ quite quickly – even if your recovery takes years.
3. Find downtime.
No matter how superhuman you are there will be times when you need a quiet, contemplative space. Find where this is for you – a coffee shop, in the office loo’s, a prayer room, somewhere outside – it doesn’t matter! Use it when you need it.
4. Remember your loved ones.
Chances are the people who will suffer most as you return to work will be the people who cared for you most when you were ill. They will worry constantly – check in with them A LOT.
Your life, health and well-being is more important than any job. If you need anything (counselling, reduced hours, more time to complete tasks) then ask (and expect positive support).
If you have to continue medication, therapy, counselling, on-going treatment etc. keep a diary or start adding reminders to your digital devices. From now on ensure you prioritise and do what speeds your recovery.
2. Visualise and be mindful.
Once or twice a day spend 15 minutes alone visualising or being mindful about something that really makes you smile. It has a powerful impact, helping you positively wire (or re-wire) your thinking.
3. Live well.
Unless there are medical reasons why you can’t, eat clean healthy stuff, hydrate and try to sleep well. Give your body and mind time to heal. If you find yourself eating junk food on the go, chances are you are compromising your recovery. Make one small change from today and work from there.
4. Find a buddy.
From today find someone you can talk to when things are tough. It could be your manager or a colleague. Equally it could be a first aider, the company doctor, or someone’s personal assistant. Don’t handle things alone if you don’t need to.
5. Use your ‘Energyometer’.
Each day give yourself a rating out of 10 for your energy and bounce. Keep a track over the weeks and months and look for triggers when your energy starts to dip and the tank starts to drain.