Sometimes you just need a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on / Picture Credit: Kulli Kittus via Unsplash
Sometimes you just need a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on / Picture Credit: Kulli Kittus via Unsplash

There is nothing wrong with taking sick days: be that for your mental or physical health. Being vulnerable and saying ‘I don’t have the capacity for [insert occasion]’ is a strength, not a source of shame.

However, we can often feel pressured to show up when we’re not feeling our best, so it’s essential to have tools to protect what energy we do have left.

Often, we don’t have an office culture where taking sick days is acceptable or even financially viable. Many of us have ploughed through terrible physical and mental strain because we literally couldn’t afford the time to rest.

The list that follows should help you mentally prepare for, remain steady during, and decompress after that thing you should be so proud that you’re powering through to do… despite maybe not getting the credit for the massive effort it’s going to take.


Having a playlist of songs that send your happy serotonin hormone soaring is a great way to hype yourself up.

If you’ve got a chronic case of the Sunday Scaries, organising the things you need like travel tickets, directions, a water bottle, and your clothes the night before spares you a few more moments in the comfort of your bed.

Pack yourself the kind of snacks you want to eat, diet be damned, so that you have the fuel to focus on the task at hand.


Use your breaks wisely. If you can be active, a gentle stroll away from the situation help you come back to it refreshed.

Tapping your chin, your upper lip, third eye space (between your brows) or just under your collarbone are examples of the Emotional Freedom Technique, clinically tested by mental health professionals, that helps regulate anxiety and anger; think of it as acupuncture without the needles. They’re subtle enough to practice mid-conversation.

If you’re bothered by intrusive thoughts of things that you could or should be doing, jot them down in your notes and set them aside so you can shift back to the present.

"Not my circus, not my monkeys." - Becca Murray

It's not weak to ask for help when you're struggling / Picture Credit: Pixabay
It's not weak to ask for help when you're struggling / Picture Credit: Pixabay

Being a problem solver can often lead to overextending your help or concern for others. Commandeering another department’s faux pas or saving your sister’s latest dating stumble is generally received with gratitude, but it’s essential to know when to walk away.

Is what someone else is doing directly impacting you? If not, telling yourself this: not my circus, not my monkeys. It’s a mantra from TikTok creator Becca Murray that has helped many people relinquish their need to control outlying situations and concentrate their energy on things they are truly responsible for.

Heading home

Take the long way home […] ask the traffic lights if it’ll be alright… Wait, that’s a Taylor Swift lyric. The point is, just a few extra minutes alone with your thoughts or an empty head is nice.

Walking a reasonable distance to places you might otherwise drive to can help burn off any nervous or stressed energy you have built up.

Switch off. You can automatically set your work inbox to snooze on your out of office hours, even if you prefer to have them on your phone to double-check details of tomorrow’s schedule. If you’ve just left your friend at the coffee shop, once you know they’re safe, you can turn on do-not-disturb. Check out this article on detoxing your social media feed.

Reward yourself for showing up, even if things didn’t go as well as you may have hoped; how ever that looks for you. Maybe you’ll watch an extra episode of the show you are currently obsessed with, or you’re finally going to use that face mask your mum bought you for Christmas.

When all is said and done...

Your energy is precious, and your commitment to showing up despite feeling numb or drained should be rewarded whether others acknowledge your efforts or not. Hopefully, these tips will help you preserve that energy in the interim of making more significant changes to support your health.

Words by Sophie Crabtree for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @CrabSophie.

RELATED: Mental health tips: Empowerment coach Isik Tlabar discusses finding purpose and more [EXCLUSIVE]

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