Working While Sick

How many times have you gone into an office only to find people sneezing or coughing while they work? How many times have you seen coworkers looking pale and fatigued long before they should and the excuse isn’t just a wild night out? How many times have all been that coworker?

I have to wonder why we do this?

It’s easy to think of just powering through. There is always work to be done and work doesn’t wait for us to be well. It needs to be done now. It probably needed to be done yesterday. Employers often have no patience with those who are sick. In many lower level positions if customer service is involved, you may be required to find someone who can cover for you. It might seem easier just to come in and make it through. Someone who gets sick easily may worry that their job is in danger due to their ill health so they come in anyway.

Of course this exposes everyone else at the office to the illness. Then everyone else goes on about their business sick, thus passing it on. Bacteria and virus must love us. After all, it is only by finding a new host that most of them survive. Some do survive with us and help us live, but many are short term passengers in our body, making us feel miserable until they die off. The bacteria or virus considers itself successful when it moves on to a new host. If these creatures were to train us they couldn’t have done a better job. After all, we are all just doing our duty and our jobs and in turn are passing on our little passengers.

If those who are sick stayed home until they were well it would be better for everyone. The sick person rests and gets better more quickly. The coworkers and others who come in contact with them throughout the day would be exposed one less time to the illness. Everyone would stay healthier. Or so it seems. This is yet one more thing that we seem to have gotten backwards. Just work harder and will the illness off and it will go away. Needing rest is a sign of weakness. Worrying about catching an illness is a sign of weakness (but remember to use your anti bacterial soap).

Isn’t that an interesting dichotomy? It seems as if we purposely make things more difficult than they need to be, judging ourselves and others when they do the smart thing for everyone involved.

Change starts first with awareness. This is a sort of ingrained behavior in our society. Perhaps the only way to change it is to first sit with the awareness and ponder the contradictions that come about.

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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

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