5 Ways to Be Sick to Get Well

Last month I woke up to a sore throat, headache, and general exhaustion. That day, I proudly surrendered and spent the day on the couch. Day 2: I felt better, but still rested– just to be sure. Day 3: I thought I was over it and stayed upright working all day. Day 4: I crashed again and by day 5, I got a COVID test. It was thankfully negative, but I still didn’t feel good, not sick enough to stay in bed or well enough to really do anything.

For almost 2 weeks I was reminded how hard it is to be sick. I fight, deny, and ignore it, doing everything to try and normalize, like make myself eat, sit at my desk, or teach yoga, even though I feel miserable.

Why is it so hard to be sick?  Here is what I learned (again) to help me get well:

  1. We feel unproductive and lazy.
    Our self-worth should not be based on what we do, but on how we deal with what we do (or don’t do).
    Instead of focusing on all that you are not getting done, put your energy on the one most important thing, your recovery.

  2. We don’t deserve it.
    I take great care of myself, have masked since day one of the pandemic, canceled all travel, avoided crowds, and got my flu shot. I still got sick!
    No one ever deserves to get sick. Instead of asking, why me, ask, what can I learn about me during my convalescence?

  3. We don’t want to let anyone down.
    I don’t like people to cancel on me, so I am quite stubborn, (to a fault) about canceling ANYTHING. To postpone a birthday dinner or cancel a yoga class feels like I am giving in to being sick.
    Illness requires acceptance for us to make our best decisions to get well instead of practicing denial.

  4. We are impatient.
    When I feel good I completely take it for granted and when I don’t, I think, I don’t have time for this! For some reason, I think I should be able to recover faster than anyone else.
    Part of being sick is to surrender to our current circumstance and practice patience instead of feeding our ego with shoulds.

  5. We feel vulnerable.
    When I am not on top of my game with my energy, outlook, or brainpower, I get triggered. I feel helpless, weak, and small and even like I will never feel good again
    Being sick is vulnerable, and also part of being human. We do the best we can to take care of ourselves and when we get sick, we embrace our humanness with self-compassion.

Being sick to get well requires us to practice the self-leadership skills noted above. Self-leadership is choosing how we respond to every challenge in our lives, so we continue to grow and learn about ourselves and show up to be our best, in sickness and in health. 


  1. Carol Brooks on November 3, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Diane, I was so sorry to hear that you had been ill. Yes, to all of your comments – especially the one stating that you feel useless. I’m glad you are back in the groove, and I’m so glad that you were able to use this experience as a learning opportunity. You are a real treasure to so many of us; ie. you go Girl!!!


    • Diane Sieg on November 4, 2020 at 12:32 am

      Hi Carol,

      Thank you for writing. I was just bragging to a class this week about the yogis at Windsor Gardens, one of my favorite classes I ever taught! I hope you are still practicing.

  2. Susan Sealy on November 3, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Hello Diane!
    I hope you are recovering now . As another high energy person, as you are, it seems like we need to learn the lessons that you listed repeatedly

    I really appreciate your thoughts on this topic and your quotes.
    Take care and thanks, Susan

    • Diane Sieg on November 4, 2020 at 12:30 am

      Hi Susan,

      Lovely to hear from you and thank you for your kind words. I wonder how you are dealing with your new retirement in the middle of COVID?

      Take good care,

  3. Leona on November 3, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Diane, I hope for you is to remain well. Although my husband survived COVID now, six months later he has had a resurgence of lung and breathing issues. Good news is he is still negative for the virus. So, everyone stay alert – as you know, the world needs more lerts. Just kidding!

    • Diane Sieg on November 4, 2020 at 12:29 am

      Hi Leona,

      I will keep you and your husband in my prayers.

      Take good care,

  4. Jen on November 3, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Diane, Your message hit home with me today. I’m not feeling well. Not bad enough to stay in bed, but I just feel off. I totally identify with your message about “our self-worth should not be based on what we do.” Great statement! When I finally got to my computer today, the first thing I did was tick off my to-do’s for the day. I felt really accomplished when I completed one list, only to then move to my 2nd list of tasks. I put too much emphasis on what I’m doing instead of how I’m reacting to everything around me. Thanks for the note!

    • Diane Sieg on November 4, 2020 at 12:28 am

      Hi Jen,

      I’m happy to hear you found my message valuable to you. The practice of balancing surrender and tenacity so that we can recover is one I continue to practice. Take good care.

  5. Jeanne Reed on November 4, 2020 at 1:32 am

    Diane, You spoke directly to me. I had emergency surgery in early September and I was knocked down really hard. I have such a hard time being sick or not being well and everything you said is exactly how I feel. I printed the 5 leadership skills that I need to recognize in myself and I will read them often! You hit the nail on the head for me. I am recovering well and I feel much better. Thank you so much for your wisdom. I’m glad you are feeling better and you made me feel better also. I love your e-mails. Thank you!

    • Diane Sieg on November 4, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      Hi Jeanne,
      I am so happy to hear you are recovering and found my perspective helpful to you. Self-leadership is an ongoing practice, so be sure to include compassion for yourself in your practice!
      Thank you for writing and take good care.

  6. Neil on November 5, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    Great article! Don’t be too hard on yourself!

  7. Lois L. Salmeron, Dean Emeritus, Ed.D, RN, MSN, MAT, CNE, ANEF Kramer School of Nursing, Oklahoma City University on August 2, 2023 at 5:09 pm

    SO well said….and I think, as a nurse, it is difficult to surrender to the fact that we CAN get sick. Maybe our bodies are telling us to SLOW a little or BE MORE AWARE of ourselves. A positive strategy that I try to use is MINDFULNESS. Be mindful of what I am doing……which is a positive thing.
    Thanks Diane for all that you do.

    • Diane Sieg on August 2, 2023 at 11:20 pm

      Thank you Lois. You are such a great role model for your students and Faculty at Kramer!

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