How Do You Pamper Yourself When You’re Sick?

pamper yourself when you're sickWell, it finally happened. I caught the cold my husband and kids have had for weeks now, despite weeks of Zicam-ing it up. (With my husband, at least, it was actually the flu — the rest of us had flu shots, so hopefully I (and the kids) got a more mild version.) So here’s today’s fun topic: How do you pamper yourself when you’re sick? What goes out the window the second you find out you’re sick, and what little indulgences do you allow yourself that you wouldn’t normally? (We’ve talked about this before, but another good corollary question: how do you work when you’re sick?

For my $.02, I’ve gone to bed at 8:30 the past two nights (the “I have small kids” version of sleeping in), didn’t get out of my PJs yesterday, and wouldn’t dream of putting makeup on today. I’d also been trying to do low-carb before this, which promptly went out the window when the order went in to our local Chinese food place — wonton soup, shumai, and pork-fried rice, oh my. Instead of working yesterday during my youngest son’s nap like I usually do, I spent the time in bed, unable to sleep but reading an enjoyable and thoroughly ridiculous romance novel. (Which I finished. And then immediately bought the next one in the series on Kindle, another indulgence I don’t usually allow myself — I usually try to get my brain candy books from the library.)

As for working while sick, to me it’s all about energy management — I knew I’d have a few good hours this morning before exhaustion set in so I’ve tried my hardest to get what I needed to done without being tempted by my usual distractions.

How about you guys: How does your routine change when you’re sick? (And, anyone have a good recipe for chicken soup? We tried making one for dinner from leftover rice, shredded chicken from earlier in the week, and consomme broth, but it was a bit… salty.)

We’ve talked a lot about being sick at work in the past, including the six things you MUST have on hand at the office if you’re sick, how to ward off a cold, the business etiquette question of shaking hands when you’re sick, and, of course, the more particular question of whether it’s appropriate to actively network while sick.

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6 Things to Have on Hand When You’re Sick at Work

6 Things to Have on Hand When You're Sick at WorkWe all know we shouldn’t go to work when we’re sick. But whether you’re a presidential candidate or have a more typical career, most of us do it anyway. (Note: Here I’m referring to the average Corporette reader with full-time benefits; the millions of Americans without paid sick leave don’t have much choice about whether to stay home and rest.) Maybe you have a conference or special event to attend, a big scheduled presentation to give, or a meeting to lead, and you just can’t avoid being sick at work. We haven’t talked about tips for going to work while ill in quite a while, so we thought it was time to revisit. (Disclaimer: Of course, please don’t take this post as medical advice.)

In the past we’ve also talked about shaking hands when you’re sick, what to do when you think you’re coming down with a cold and ways to get over a coldhow to deal with many medical appointments, and how to explain an embarrassing illness.

First of all, here’s some information from an actual doctor on determining whether you’re too sick for the office. But if you need to go in no matter what, here are six things that can help you handle being sick at work (besides the age-old advice our mothers have given us since we were kids):

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Five Easy Ways to Get Over a Cold

how to get over a cold 2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on 6 Things to Have on Hand When You’re Sick at Work.

I’m sick right now (boooo), having caught my husband’s cold. We’ve talked a bit in the past about how to ward off colds, but I was thinking last night how much my colds in general really do seem to be milder and quicker than people around me. So here are a few of my simple tricks…

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Sniff, Sniff: What to Do When You Think You’re Getting Sick

How To Ward off a Cold

2017 update: Links have been updated below; you may also want to check out our latest discussion of how to pamper yourself when you’re sick.

What do you do if you think you’re getting sick — and what are your best tips on how to ward off a cold? We’ve talked about how to work when you’re sick, as well as whether you should cancel client meetings if you’re sick and “heavily drugged with cold medicine.”  But I think we’ve all been there: you wake up and feel that nasty tickle in the back of your throat, or perhaps you sneeze twice (when you always only sneeze once) — and you can tell: it is coming.  So what do you do to ward off the sickness, or make it pass faster? (Pictured: Monster tissue cozy by Trigo, available for $8 at Etsy – 2017 update; it’s sold out now but here are lots of other tissue cozies at Etsy.)

For my $.02, I swear by a few big things to ward off a cold: [Read more…]

Meeting the Client… While “Heavily Drugged” with Cold Medicine

Coffee and Sudafed, originally uploaded to Flickr by BrittneyBush.Should you network while sick? Reader M wonders, particularly when it comes to clients she already has…

I haven’t seen this covered in your advice column and have just bumbled my way through a client meeting while heavily drugged with Sudafed and wanted your take on what a better approach would be.

I work in medium law, we have major corporate clients that come in once a year or so. As a mid-level associate, I get to attend small luncheons with the individuals handling the files I work on. Of course, the day before they arrive I come down with a horrible cold. Not the death flu or anything, more of an “i can work through this but I sound horrible” cold. I made it through the lunch trying to minimize sniffling and throat clearing and maximize hand sanitizing- but should I have backed out once I realized I was sick? Even if that means missing out on an opportunity to develop the client relationship?

Fabulous question. We’ve talked about how to work while you’re sick, as well as whether you should shake hands while you’re sick — but not on networking while sick. (Pictured: Coffee and Sudafed, originally uploaded to Flickr by BrittneyBush.) Ultimately I think it depends on the relationship — as well as how sick you are (does “sneezing violently” enter the picture? how many tissues do you need by your side to get through lunch? are you 100% positive it’s just a head cold and not something more contagious?) — but I’m really of two minds:

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Do You Shake Hands When You’re Sick?

Shaking Hands, originally uploaded to Flickr by Aidan Jones

2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on 6 Things to Have on Hand When You’re Sick at Work.

Today’s poll is inspired by reader V’s question:

I work in Big Law and throughout the recruiting season, I shake a lot of hands. Now and then I encounter someone who says, I’m sorry, I don’t shake your hand I’m sick. While I respect that and appreciate that it’s considerate, frankly I find the little spiel about “not shaking your hand because I’m sick” a bit off putting and it sure as hell makes for awkward introductions.

Interesting… I’ve always thought it’s common courtesy to *not* shake someone’s hand if you know you’re sick.  The only caveat I can think of is one outside the recruiting context — where, say, you’re sick and in a situation where you’re the most junior person in the room — and your boss barks out to the VIP some half-introduction and you’re expected to dive forward, shake VIP’s hand (with a firm, competent handshake!), and then recede back into the shadows to do all the work.  In that situation, it would break the flow of the half-second transaction for the sickee to inform the VIP and boss that s/he is sick, and really, at that point they deserve whatever they catch from you.*  (Pictured: Shaking Hands, originally uploaded to Flickr by Aidan Jones.)

But, like I said, that is usually not what happens in the recruiting context.  I agree, being on the receiving end can be a little awkward — but I usually just say “oh, thank you! feel better” and move on with the conversation.  If I really feel the need to make some sort of movement (because I’ve held my hand out too enthusiastically or whatever) I might do a slight bow, perhaps with both hands pressed together in front. But that’s just my $.02 — let’s hear from the readers.  First, we’ll take a poll from the sickee side of things:


How have you guys handled the situation from the other side of things?

* Apologies in advance if this attempt at humor has gone awry: I’m having an off day.

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