Taking care of yourself at work

How to manage your well-being at work when dealing with illness or personal issues. 

There are some days when your morning coffee doesn’t quite breathe life into you and you feel a bit off. It might be because you are coming down with a cold or sickness, you have had a bad night’s sleep or you are dealing with some personal issues at home that you can’t quite shake that bad feeling when you get to work.

When you feel rotten physically or mentally, it can be hard to bring your whole self to your work and concentrate on the job at hand. It doesn’t matter whether you work on a construction site, a factory or in a corporate desk job.

Here are a couple of ways to take better care of yourself when you aren’t feeling your best.

Recognise and acknowledge how you are feeling

Admitting to ourselves that we aren’t coping or that we aren’t invincible is one of the hardest steps. No matter how hard we might try, no one can run at 110% forever, physically or mentally. Our bodies will start to fail and our minds will struggle to keep up.

It is only by identifying what is wrong, that you can start to find solutions to an issue. Start by writing a list of all the things that might be bothering or stressing you out. Next, identify which of these are in your control and which are out of your control. By doing this, you can start to plan out some actions to tackle them.

When it comes to feeling unwell, acknowledging how you are feeling is especially important. Your colleagues may comment that you look tired or pale and that you should take yourself home. Only you can put your hand up to say that you can’t keep working. Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right or you are starting to experience more symptoms of being unwell, get yourself to your GP or if really bad, to an emergency room.

Take it easy and try to stay focused

If you are feeling well enough to be in the office, you should focus on delivering good work. However, there are a couple easy ways to manage your workload when you aren’t at your best.

Have a look at your to do list and prioritise the things that absolutely must get done. Or, focus on things that you know you can smash out without putting too much strain on yourself. Then, look at your calendar and see whether there are any meetings that could be rescheduled to the following week.

Work can offer a distraction from personal issues and can be a place to channel nervous energy into. But if you can’t stay focused on your task, take a break and grab a cup of tea or coffee. If you work in an office, get outside and get some fresh air.

Speak up

We all like to put on a brave face and think that we can muscle through being sick or dealing with bad thoughts. But if something is affecting your work or your safety at work, people need to know and nine times out of ten they will be eager to help you out.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to start the conversation with someone else, especially when it comes to feeling anxious about something or even just sharing your feelings. beyondblue is a great resource and they have a whole page of tips for having a conversation about how you are feeling.

If you are comfortable, have a conversation with your manager about what is going on. They should work with you to identify what needs to be done so that you can get back on track, whether it be time off or more suitable duties.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking up to your colleagues, most companies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that offer free counselling. At Programmed, all of our employees have access to our EAP providers; we work with Converge in Australia and Vitae in New Zealand.

We are never going to feel 100% every day of the week. Sometimes bad days can turn into bad weeks, but nothing ever stays terrible forever. If you follow the above steps and make sure you look out for yourself, the bad will balance out with the good.


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About Programmed


Programmed is a leading provider of operations and maintenance services across Australia and New Zealand. Our business model is built around our ability to recruit, deploy, manage and maintain a large, directly employed workforce of professional, skilled and semi-skilled staff with a wide range of capabilities. We are proud to efficiently serve more than 10,000 customers every day.

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