Home > Illness > The Physical Effects Of Illness in The Workplace

The Physical Effects Of Illness in The Workplace

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 30 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Physical Effects Illness Workplace

When you return to work after recovering from an illness it is unlikely that you will be totally better. Many illnesses take some time to leave your system completely and others have side effects or complications that last well after you are feeling able to get back to your normal working life.

Before you go back to work, keep a diary of your thoughts and feelings so that you can try to anticipate any problems you may encounter. Recognise the signs that may require some intervention at work and understand that while you are healing you will still need to be kind to yourself.

Issues such as taking medication at certain times or your inability to wear your restrictive tailored suits can all seem irrelevant when you are at home getting better, but as soon as you return to the workplace, these details can be embarrassing or frustrating.

If you have taken some time to think about your particular circumstances and what issues may need to be dealt with, you can be prepared. Here are some common physical side effects of illness and suggestions for minimising their impact on you and your employment.


It is common to feel tired long after the major symptoms of your illness have passed. Make sure you do everything possible to counteract feelings of tiredness - get plenty of good quality sleep each night, do not drink to excess, no caffeine in the evenings. This will help you understand your body and your needs - you will not get any sympathy if you are tired when everyone saw you stagger out of the bar at 11pm. Answer any questions before they are asked, or it could be embarrassing.

If you are lacking energy at work, see if you can nip out for a ten minute walk in the fresh air. If that is not possible, either go and make a coffee or go to the toilet and take a few minutes rest. Getting away from your desk can give you a little lift.

If you are finding that you are constantly too tired to complete your day effectively, you may need to reassess your full time work schedule - ask your HR manager if you can take one day off a week or work one day from home.

Lack of Concentration

If you are finding it hard to concentrate at work, you need to be super organised. If you take a notebook into meetings and regularly update your To Do list, you may be able to manage your symptoms. Force yourself to take notes and read them before any follow up meetings.

If you find your mind wandering in meetings or conversations, try putting an elastic hair band around your wrist. When you start to feel a little spaced out, pluck the band to give yourself a little shock. This helps to refocus your mind.

Change in Appearance

If your illness has had the effect of changing your appearance in some way, you need to be prepared that your colleagues will mention it. They are unlikely to be trying to be rude or offensive, especially if their comment could be perceived as complimentary. Many people find that they lose or gain weight after illness, depending on their appetite due to medication and ability to be physically active.

If this means you can no longer fit comfortably into your previous work wardrobe, you may not be able to afford to go out and buy a whole set of new attire. If you can treat yourself to one or two items, it can help you deal with the comments. Have a couple of sentences ready for when your colleagues comment so that you do not get upset or snappy.

Taking Medication

Many people are still required to take regular medication after illness. If you find that you need to take pills or have an injection at times when you may be in a meeting or with a client, ask to be excused and go to the toilet. If possible, arrange your meetings around your medication times. Do not go without taking your pills or injections just to avoid having to say something.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: