In all my years of freelancing, I’ve only taken the very occasional day off here and there because of a cold. So it was quite a surprise to discover just over two weeks ago that I had gone down with shingles.
Apparently, when you get chicken pox as a kid, the virus lies dormant until such times you are run down and then it reappears as shingles, attacking your nerve endings. You also develop an itchy rash.
The doctor said I had to rest, stay in and not exercise for two weeks. That’s quite hard when you work for yourself.
In the scheme of things, two weeks isn’t a long time and my clients were very sympathetic, saying things could easily be rescheduled.
I am now well again and back at work. The lesson I have learned here is to try and avoid a situation where I get run down, as this weakens the immune system and opens the door to all kinds of viruses. The three main causes of a weakened immune system are:
- Working too hard
- Getting stressed
- Not eating healthily (and too much caffeine and alcohol don’t help either)
Working too hard often leads to heightened stress levels but, as freelancers, it can be difficult to turn work down. I know I’ve been very busy since July and working a lot at weekends, so this was obviously my body’s way of telling me to take it easy.
I will just have to moderate my workload and make sure I don’t overstretch myself in future.
Have you had to take time off sick for any length of time since you have been freelance? How did you manage?