Sick Day Self Care

A blue sky background with white clouds, the words in the middle read "Sick Day Self Care" in pink. At the bottom of the image a variety of different coloured can paws are reaching up for hearts.

Would you believe, once again, I have COVID! 

So that means I am working from home as best I can, given the blergh I am feeling. With that in mind, I thought as I spend my day working from home, I would write some tips on preparing for the inevitable “Sick Day”. Ideas here could also be utilised for days of burnout, but I’m going to be focusing more on short-term sickness plans. 

There will also be a summary list at the end if you want to take away a task list to set up your own “Sick Day Self Care” plans:

Something I do a few times a year is check through my first aid kit and medications in my cupboard. I add it to my calendar every 3 months (ish) to just take a look and make sure I have some basic items in, such as:

  • Plasters
  • Antiseptic Wipes or Wash
  • Paracetamol & Ibuprofen
  • Cold & Flu Stuff (Lemsips mostly)
  • My Prescription Medication (I get it in 3month supplies)
These are things that are important in my house and get used a lot, but you may have a completely different set of priority items. Making a list and leaving it where you store the first aid can really help you to check through and decide if anything is missing.

It’s also important to check the dates on these items. I was helping a friend move house a few years ago and noticed their bag of plasters looked old, as in, 1990s old. On further inspection, I found they had expired when I was in Primary School (which was in fact in the 90s!).

First Aid kit has an expiry on it because, after that date, it cannot be guaranteed to be sterile. So if you find a few plasters that went out of date last month, you’ll probably be fine in the short term but definitely look into replacing them.

If you don’t have a first aid kit in your house, you can buy a “kit” from places like Boots, Superdrug, or trusty old Amazon for around £10.

I would definitely advise getting one if you are accident-prone like we are in my household. You can easily set up your own first aid box using an old shoe box and buying items like plasters individually.

A white cat winking and wearing a pink spotted onesie with the word "comfort" next to the cat in pink joined-up handwriting

Many of you may already have a “Self Care Box” prepared. 

This is where you have a collection of items together in one place for when you’re having a bad time. These contain things like colouring books, stim toys, nice-smelling candles, whatever supports your “Self Care”.

It’s a good idea to know what brings you comfort in advance, because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get a cold and roll around the house unsure of what is going to help comfort you.

For my list, I have:

  • Disney Onesie (Must be one of the Disney ones!)
  • Weighted Blanket 
  • Stim Toy Box (I have a small one on my home desk)
  • Lucozade Zero Sugar (I have POTS, so the extra salt is helpful)
I am currently utilising all of the above, apart from the Lucozade, because I didn’t take my own advice and make sure I have enough stored up for emergencies!  

I ran one of our Peer Support Sessions last year about Pacing and included a load of ideas of emergency food and drink ideas.

The last thing you want when you are sick is to go out to a supermarket to get food, and the last thing your budget probably needs is daily takeouts.

Having a backup of “safe foods” as much as possible is always a good idea, even if you’re not unwell. We always have a bag of “Huel Hot & Savoury” in the garage because we really like the basic tomato one; it’s a nice balanced meal and takes 2mins to boil the kettle and pour the water in.  We also really like the Farm Foods microwave bags; you literally just throw the whole bag in the microwave! there’s an excellent chap on YouTube who reviews food and has done a video on a few of the bags; here is the one about their Chicken & Chorizo Rice



Two white, grey and orange cats standing side by side. One is holding a spotted fish, the one of the left is hugging that cat. Next to them the words "Support Buddy" are written in pink joined-up handwriting

This one can be a difficult one for us all, to find someone to rely on in a moment of hardship/illness. If you are fortunate enough to have family close by, or still live with them, then this is probably an easy one to solve for you.

I’m fortunate that I have a PA that I can rely on for things like this. I can’t get them to drop everything and come to me instantly, but this week I cancelled my regular session, and they picked up my medication to drop on the doorstep instead. 

So if you don’t have a family member or support worker to hand, is there someone who lives nearby (maybe not on the same street but at least 30mins bus ride away) who you could ask to be your support buddy, and you be theirs in return?

It’s good to have a think about this now when you’re not unwell, and maybe have that conversation with someone you trust. 

You could say something like:

I was reading this article about self-care when you are unwell, and it recommends getting a support buddy set up. This means someone I can contact when I’m unwell to do things like drop me instant messages to make sure I’m ok, and collect any food/medication if I’m too unwell to collect them.  I was wondering if you’d consider doing that for me, and in return, I do the same for you?

If you do this it’s important to set boundaries as well, such as:

  • Payment – If the person collects things for you, how will you pay them back and within what time frame
  • Availability – Ensuring neither person is expecting an automatic reply/support and setting boundaries around this
A white and brown cat smiling and wearing a bowtie with the word "Workplace" next to the cat in pink joined up handwriting

This one got me a few years ago! I was working full-time for a University for almost a year, and then I needed to take a sick day. I woke up and felt absolutely awful and thought, “I need to stay home today”.

Then it dawned on me; I had no idea how to report sickness to my employer!

So on top of feeling sick, I then had a small panic of trying to rummage through my induction kit, emails, all sorts to find out how they wanted me to log a sick day!

If you have a job, are in education or volunteer somewhere regularly, take a moment now to check up on how to alert them if you are unable to come in. 

You might find that the process they outline is inaccessible to you (like only having a phoneline). Now would be a good time to give them a prod and discuss alternatives should you ever need it.

In Summary:

It’s always best to think ahead if you can. I know having Executive Dysfunction makes that really hard, but I’m hoping some of the prompts in this article will give you some ideas of how to prepare ahead of time.

A summary checklist that reads 1. First Aid Kit, 2. Prescription Medication, 3. Comfort Items, 4. Back up safe foods, 5. support buddy, 6. workplace. At the bottom of the list there is a smiling cat wearing a pink scarf saying "Be Kind to Yourself"

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