Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Allow yourself a sick day

Posted on 24 March 2011 Comments

Article illustration for Allow yourself a sick day

As independent creatives (i.e: freelancers or small business owners), we rarely give ourselves time off from work when we’re feeling under the weather. Whereas in full-time employment I might have called my boss and taken a sick day, I personally find — and I know I’m not alone — that I’ve been much more inclined to ‘soldier on’ since I’ve been working for myself. That’s not to say that I slacked off when I was an employee, of course; it’s just that there’s an increased motivation to push through the occasional sickness when you’re the one solely responsible for the work.

So I think that we should all take more time off, and when we’re feeling rough, we should accept that nothing good is going to come of it, and just let ourselves be sick; because being ill is inevitable. Although it can be alleviated by giving ourselves natural breaks — like not working at the weekend, booking in proper holiday time, and just ensuring that we give ourselves time to properly switch off — there will still be occasions where sickness comes calling, and that’s when we should just let it happen, and allow our bodies time to recover.

I’m writing this almost as a note to myself. In fact, I feel like I only came to this realisation in the last couple of days, when the pressures of current client work, 8 Faces and new pet projects — while all fun and exciting — simply got on top of me. I suffer from mouth ulcers when stressed (ulcers are commonly linked to a low immune system), and instead of reading the signs and giving myself some time to recuperate earlier this week, I soldiered on with work and now they’re significantly worse and talking bloody well hurts. Sure, mouth ulcers are not that bad in the grand scheme of things and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy, but coupled with general intellectual, creative, and emotional exhaustion, it appears that I’m a little burned out and I need some time off.

Okay, yes, so I’m posting this today and yet I’m proclaiming I’m ill. What a hypocrite. But right after hitting the ‘publish’ button on this post I’m going to go for a walk into the fields, sit down with a book, and chill the hell out.

Perhaps that’s something many of us should do more often.

#ideasofmarch

[Photo courtesy of Shutterstock, inspired by my recent playing around with the wonderful Yoritsuki iPhone app. Give it a go if you’re in need of some portable relaxation!]

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