The importance of sick days

The sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” can be streamed on Netflix. (Courtesy of


I was knocked out by bronchitis last week, and all but gave up on participation within the human race Saturday through Wednesday. As I can imagine would be the same with many students — and “real life adults,” for that matter — missing three consecutive days of classes is something I would have never imagined happening, let alone considered a warranted option. It seems that, especially during the winter months, sickness is rather expected, and you can’t walk more than a few steps without ducking away from a nearby cough, sneeze or sniffle.

When my body gave up on me and forced me to cancel everything but two evenings working in the office, I expected to be panic-stricken. I missed nine classes in those three days. While it was more of the professors’ perceptions of my missing class than the actual lectures I had to teach myself that initially caused inordinate amounts of anxiety, the eventual outcome flew past that in the benefits reaped.

When a person is so absorbed in racing between classes, appointments, projects, work and studying (and, for many students, partying…), there really isn’t time to stop and re-prioritize and re-evaluate. There is great beauty in cancelling both things you were looking forward to and things you weren’t quite as excited to tackle; it’s not only refreshing, but it allows the opportunity to step back and shift things around.

We all take on a number of responsibilities and projects, and when there are so many of those on one’s schedule, aspects of things are bound to land on the procrastination list. My sick days served me well: not only did I revisit this “procrastination list” and complete a number of important research outlines, grant proposals and scene work, but I also continued to procrastinate on other “important” things even when I technically had the time to do them. The brain needs a break, the body needs a break and a person’s sense of obligation sometimes just needs a break.

Netflix has a number of full series online right now; “Chuck,” “How I Met Your Mother” and a number of finally found documentaries won the check mark on my list before the previously planned early preparation for a research paper. There is no grade attached to making it through three and a half seasons of a former favorite NBC series, and there isn’t an hourly wage when reading an impulse-buy on Kindle instead of the textbook covered on the upcoming midterm.

But because I took part of my time home sick off from my sense of obligation, I was able to return to “real life” with full-force Thursday morning. Sick days are rejuvenating — both physically and mentally — and if the body has a true opportunity to crash before it fights back to normalcy, its performance is going to far outweigh the to-dos that still remain to be checked off the list.

Gough is a junior majoring in journalism and theatre.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.