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How to Function When You’re Sick

cold remedies

It’s really difficult to function when you’re sick. I know because over the past three weeks, our home has been a revolving door of illness. Even if you are lucky enough to have paid time off at work, there is no way to take off that much time without a loss of income. Is there a best way to get things done when you’re under the weather? I’m not sure, but here’s how we’ve been surviving.

Get the Most Important Things Done Early

This might not apply if you have to spend 8 hours a day in the office, but if you have flexibility at work, try getting the most important or most difficult things done early. That way if you have to leave early or are down for the count in the afternoon, at least you will have accomplished something.

Put off Unnecessary Commitments

Although I know it did nothing for my popularity, I had to back out of school and social commitments over the past couple of weeks. I’m not naturally social so I usually do make an effort to avoid becoming a hermit. However, there is no need to spend extra energy on school spirit or socializing when you’re sick.

Ask for Help

When we don’t want to burden others with our problems, it’s difficult to admit the need for help. But most employers, coworkers, and clients would prefer lending a helping hand or at least extending deadlines until you’re back in fighting form. I would rather have something done correctly, even if it means taking extra time, over a 50% effort.

Take Advantage of Home Remedies and Listen to Your Body

Chicken soup, hot tea, vitamin C, Vaporub; home remedies do help with a variety of cold and flu symptoms. My new best friend is a Personal Steam Inhaler! Even if you are person who subsists on kale and quinoa, it’s OK to go with whatever cravings pop up while fighting a cold. I never want fast food except sometimes when I’m sick. I think it’s my body’s way of telling me it needs fat and calories.

Sleep is also a high priority when you’re trying to shake an illness. Don’t be polite. Kick the hubby into the guest room if you need to and let kids fend for themselves if they are able. Also, don’t get sucked into social media, laundry, or trying to do one more thing when you know you should sleep. The world won’t stop turning if you go to bed at 8 PM.

Know When to Throw in the Towel

Sadly, we all fought our colds for the over a week to watch them turn into sinus infections or constant, hacking coughs. That meant a round of antibiotics for each of us. Yes, it takes time and money to go to the doctor, but the expense was much better than having lingering illness for weeks. I’ve known many people who’ve try to live with chronic sinus infections to the point of eventually needing surgery.

Don’t run to Urgent Care after the first sneeze, but if you aren’t genuinely feeling better after 10 days or if you got better for a couple of days then had a relapse, you probably need prescription strength help.

No one enjoys being sick, but since average adults have 2-3 colds per year, we all have to deal. If you don’t have the luxury of going to bed for 7-10 days, then hopefully these tricks will improve efforts to function when you’re sick. I only hope we’ve paid our dues and will have a healthy holiday season.

How do you get things done when you’re sick? What is your favorite home remedy?


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Sorry you’ve been feeling under. We’ve all had colds, but rest, soup, and juice have helped us shake it. Since we needed the rest anyway, sick time is the best time to indulge in binge watching. Then when we’re better, we have less temptation to use our time that way.

  2. Having only 15-20 PTO days for years means I’m a professional at working while sick. Who wants to waste vacation days on that? Even now that I work at home, I tough through it. I’ve written long projects before while puking off and on.

  3. Since I’ve been taking a serious (but expensive) pro biotic, I get a fraction of the colds I used to. Anyhoo, yes get sleep!! I think many people want to fast track their illness, but I think it’s the opposite. It’s time to slow down and just let things run its course. I also splurge on the fancy kleenex when I get sick because nothing is worse than 99 Cent Store tissue paper that feels like rubbing your nose with bricks when it’s sore!

  4. Sorry to hear y’all haven’t been doing well. With three little kids running around it’s inevitable that when one of them catches something we all get it. Depending on what it is I may just try to get some extra sleep but I normally just tough it out.

  5. I just had a cold emerge last night. So I’m on cold meds, but they’re old and so not quite as effective as I’d like. Like you said, it’s about knocking out the things that absolutely have to get done. Then crawl back into bed. And taking it easy, which is always difficult for people.

  6. Sorry to hear your household is under the weather. That is the worse because it seems like when one person goes down, everyone eventually goes down. And Mom – she has to take care of everyone if when she’s not feeling a 100%. 🙂 Rest and liquids always helps me. The hardest part for me is giving myself permission to get the necessary rest but as you said – you need to do it. Hope everyone feels better soon!

  7. Being in this situation is very difficult. What I do is I at least wake up early in the morning after getting enough sleep so that I can still work on my side hustle or I ask help from my husband. Get well soon!

  8. Good tips, Kim! At my work PTO is lumped with sick days, so it’s one in the same. It has it’s pros and cons. The negative to it is that some people will come in even if they are deathly ill. Someone did this soon after I had surgery when my immune system was a bit lower and they made me really sick. I was not amused (nor was anyone else in the office!).

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