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Fully sick: How to keep your mind well when you’re not

Author: The Simple Bit

Category: Science

Feeling crappy physically can often have a knock-on effect to our mental state. So what steps can we take to protect our minds when our body is sick?

The simple bits:

  • You can get sick at any time of year – not just winter
  • Feeling physically sick can affect your mental wellbeing
  • Dr Jo Mitchell has some tips for how to cope with it

Ok, so it’s no longer ‘cold and flu season’. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get sick in the warmer months. And feeling crappy physically can often have a knock-on effect for our mental state.

But fear not. At The Simple Bit, we’re all about helping you out. So we spoke to Dr Jo Mitchell, Clinical Psychologist from The Mind Room to get her tips for keeping your mind healthy, even while your body is not.

  1. Acknowledge it.

“Forget pushing through it – you need to stop and listen to your body,” says Dr Jo. You are sick. Just acknowledging you are unwell and then asking yourself what you need can ease your discomfort. So stop denying it and infecting your co-workers. Rest and allow your body to repair. Remember to see your doctor if symptoms persist.

  1. Have a wallow.

It’s ok to wallow or have a good cry. “I generally give myself a 24 hour wallowing window, for any illness or bad news in general, and then shift focus to my more functional self-care behaviours,” says Dr Jo. That might mean asking for help, giving yourself permission to take time off work, or going to the doc.

  1. Be kind to yourself.

“We wouldn’t kick a dog when it’s down, so why do it to yourself?” asks Dr Jo. And we really love dogs. So it makes sense to speak kindly to yourself while your body fights off the illness and helps you to repair. “We all live in a body that’s susceptible to illness and injury. You are not alone in your suffering,” Dr Jo reassures us.

  1. Wait it out.

You know the saying? This too will pass. Well, that counts for nasal congestion and a hammering headache, too. While it can be hard to imagine anything improving when you are unwell, it will. Dr Jo says, “Remind yourself that even if you get worse before you get better, your symptoms will improve a bit at some point. Be patient and wait for things to change.”

  1. Be thankful.

Even if it is inconvenient, taking time out from our normal life can give us perspective. “While you are sick try noticing the things about your life that you are missing,” says Dr Jo. Whether that’s in your social life, your fitness routine, even your work/life balance. When you are well again make sure you take time to savour and appreciate these parts of your life that we often take for granted.


Sections of this article were first published by psychology community The Mind Room. Find out more about them here.


If you or someone you know needs urgent psychological support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or see your GP or psychologist.


it at least needs full a stop to be consistent.