Staying healthy after a long sickness absence from work

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Regardless of the cause of your period of sickness absence from work, it’s perhaps inevitable that you will need a period of recuperation and some modifications to your way of life to help you through the process of returning to full time work.

Some of the disciplines you might want to impose are around your physical health, while others may be around your general wellbeing following a period of illness or sickness.

Tips on exercise to help as you recuperate

Research has indicated that improving your health though exercise helps you maintain vitality, mental health, strength and agility and can help reduce chronic pain. This doesn’t mean you need to rush off today and join a gym though.

Before you start on the course of exercise that you feel will benefit you, it’s important to consult your doctor to check if any ongoing health conditions or medication may affect the programme you’re planning.

Once that has been cleared you can set in motion your preferred fitness plan which may involve gym workouts, jogging, walking, swimming, yoga or whatever you feel suits you. It’s important to choose an activity you are likely to enjoy rather than find a chore, as that will increase the likelihood of you sticking with it.

Don’t try to do too much too soon; start gently for perhaps a few minutes each day as you rebuild your fitness and can start to appreciate a gradual improvement.

As you come to take satisfaction from maintaining your exercise programme, you’ll find this can help improve your confidence and help you to cope with the inevitable stresses of returning to work.

Taking control of your diet can help you to recuperate and return to work with renewed energy

It may be that during a lengthy sickness absence from work you’ve not been able to eat as well or as healthily as before. It may have been easier to manage on ready meals or processed foods, but your diet to include more healthy choices such vegetables, whole grains and fruits can help provide fuel to give you the energy as you return to a more active lifestyle.

If your eating has become more of a “chore” during your sickness absence from work, rather than something to be enjoyed and shared, make the time to put more effort into your cooking and make meals more of a social event to be shared with family and friends.

Make sure you get plenty of sleep and rest

During any lengthy sickness absence, it’s possible that your sleeping patterns were disturbed and you were unable to get as much proper rest as you needed.

As you make your return to work, it’s very important that you get back into a sleeping routine that allows you to gain an adequate number of hours rest each night.

Melatonin is the hormone that makes you sleepy and you can give your levels a boost by switching to low-wattage bulbs in the bedrooms and keeping the room quiet, cool and dark. Be sure to turn off the TV, computer, laptop or tablet at least an hour before bedtime to reduce the stimulation to your brain – you’ll find it’s easier to relax and drop off to sleep!

Learn how to cope with change  after your sickness absence

If you’ve been away from work for a lengthy period, it’s quite likely that you’ll find your life changing to a greater or lesser degree. It’s doubly important therefore that you find healthy ways to cope with these new challenges.

Take time to focus on the positives in your life and those things you’re still grateful for. Don’t be afraid to share your concerns and feelings with loved ones; burying these inside your self can only lead to resentment and possibly depression.

Don’t waste time worrying about the things in life that you can’t change. Focus instead on those aspects that you can influence and change as this will help you maintain a positive attitude towards life.

Accept that your lengthy absence may well have had an impact on your life and those around you, but make a determined effort to remain upbeat and positive and try to view these changes as exciting new challenges that could well lead to even greater opportunities in the future.

Please note: All information within Your Resource Centre is correct at the time of publication, and we make every effort to keep content accurate. However sometimes information may be out of date. You should not rely on this information when making financial decisions as no financial advice has been given. The information reflects the view of the author and not that of Shepherds Friendly Society.

If you’re not sure what to do when making financial decisions then you should consult a financial adviser, who will likely charge for any advice that is given.

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