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Nov 17, 2016

Coping When You Can't Work - The Definitive Guide

Life is always throwing unexpected challenges our way. Some say that this is what keeps life interesting. Others whinge and moan about all the changes. But all of us have the strength inside to tackle the things that come up, no matter how tough they get. This inner strength is the pillar we all need to rely on when the hard times hit. Of course, it’s a lot easier when you’ve got love and support on your side!

Perhaps one of the hardest things to handle these days is the news that you need to take some time out of work. Most of us love the idea of a break from the daily grind. But the reality of the situation is that you can be thrust into financial hardship. From here, things can escalate. Debts, anxiety, stress and the breakdown of relationships are common side effects of losing a job. But it is even harder when your health or body has let you down. So how can you cope?

Have you have recently developed an illness that has meant you need to stop working? It’s worth checking if you are due any benefit top up or compensatory pay out to help you get by. Accidents in the street, the car or at work are typical reasons for needing time off to heal. You can get advice on this from a lawyer to find out what your rights might be. But the first person you need to speak to is your boss. Quitting your job is not a good idea right now. Instead, see if you can take your leave that is owed. Once that is used up, ask for more. Some employers can be very understanding and helpful. They value their best employees.
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Even if your employer can’t offer you your wage for long-term absence, there are many benefits to staying with the company on paper. For a start, it’s a job you can go back to in the future if your health allows. And if you need to find a new employer in the future, it looks better on your resume to have unbroken periods of employment. In some places the employer is required to continue paying into pension or national insurance funds while you are on long-term leave. It may depend on your location, the company you work for, and the reason for your absence. Check with your HR department.

The longer you are away from your regular job, the harder it can be to cope emotionally. If you are able to do any remote working, it is worth asking your employer to provide it. Keeping busy and useful is very helpful for your emotional well-being. Being in pain and physically drained can begin to wear you down mentally. Finding things that you can do, even little things can be hugely beneficial. On your good days, it might be possible to head into your workplace to catch up with colleagues and stay in the loop.

Being on your own at home can be very lonely and isolating. It’s important for your general health to get outside, enjoy some fresh air and some light exercise. If you can afford the therapies you need to help you heal, then consider investing in them. A proactive approach can often help your case if you are claiming compensation as well. Make the time to undertake the exercises that recommended to you. Over time, little by little, these might have the positive effect you are looking for.

Everyday tasks can suddenly become incredibly difficult when you’re ill or disabled. Adapting your home to help you manage them could be crucial to provide you with the independence you’re looking for. A positive frame of mind can go a long way here. Support from your friends, family and carers are essential to help you find ways around the trickier tasks. Soon you will be able to manage better. Patience and perseverance are hard to muster when you’re feeling low about things. Don’t be afraid to ask for counseling and other emotional support.

Chances are you will occasionally have good days when you feel stronger and more able than before. These are the days when you need to tackle the things that could help you the most on the worst days. Batch cook and freeze a few meals for when cooking will be just too hard to do. Tackle the laundry pile. Catch up with those friends you haven’t heard from in a while. There may be plenty of other things you can think of that need doing or that you want to do. Having a list to choose from can be quite inspiring and motivating as well.

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Money may be your biggest worry, and that’s understandable. As soon as you know that work will be scarce for a while, contact your landlord or mortgage provider. If they know you may struggle to cover your housing costs, they can help you make arrangements to avoid an eviction. Stop using credit cards or borrowing if you can as this will end up very expensive when you can’t promptly repay them. Pull out your household budget and make all the cuts you can. Subscription TV, gym memberships, and eating out might be first to go. You won’t be able to cut the monthly outgoings as much as you want, but every little helps.

Next, consider your grocery budget. Could you choose cheaper brands? Can you cut down on snacks? Would you be prepared to give up chocs, desserts, and treats for a few weeks? See if you can knock a little off next week’s shopping bill. You may find your heating and lighting bills increase because you are at home most of the time. Can you reduce drafts, and choose cheaper-to-run lightbulbs? If investing in a wooly sweater means you are comfortable with the heat on a degree lower, it could be worth doing.

Making the most of this time you are healing is important for your health. Resurrect old hobbies, or meet new people online. Most importantly, look after you. Be well.

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