Bogged down with a ‘bug’? Reflections on embracing and gaining insights from illness.

5 min reading time
Hello Winter, the Season of Colds, Flus and other Ailments!
Have you ever faced that unwelcome bug that disrupts your whole life? Well, I recently battled one. As someone keen on holistic health, I turned to remedies like cupping, aromatherapy, and healing broths to tackle it.
Join me on this reflective journey – on balance, accepting life’s ups and downs, and prioritising wisely. It’s not about complex theories, just understanding how our bodies and minds can collaborate.

Imagine this: you’re cruising through your regular (likely hectic) everyday life – work, house chores, shopping, cooking, hanging out with friends or family, school runs, and maybe even squeezing some afternoon clubs (for your kids or yourself if you’re lucky!). Throw in the approaching Christmas chaos, and you can already sense the pressure building up.

And just when you least expect it, you start feeling under the weather – a scratchy throat, achy muscles, runny nose, or maybe a cough. Cue the frustration because, naturally, you;re falling sick right at the most inconvenient time of the year!

So that was me, at the beginning of December. I resisted it for the first couple of days thinking I will just sail through it and it will soon go away. An afternoon nap and a mug of chicken stock to recharge and I will get back to ‘normal’ (aka productive, full of energy and always on the go).

The harder I resisted the cold, the more uncomfortable I became, and my body’s signals grew stronger. It soon became evident that the illness does not care about my plans or expectations. 

And then, I had a lightbulb moment! 

‘Maybe’, I thought, ‘instead of getting angry with The Illness and cursing my weakened immune system, I shall remind myself that my body is my ally? My best friend who persistently tries to communicate with me what I need, especially the needs that I (also persistently) neglect?’

What I discovered about this illness was:

Illness forces us into bed (or the bathroom), sometimes quite forcefully. Even if we put up a fight for a while, resisting it only seems to make the consequences even more severe.


Sickness reduces expectations to a minimum. 


It boils life down to the basic needs of existence. Suddenly, there is no urge to tidy up, cook, do the dishes, dress up, go anywhere, or even eat. Sickness coupled with a significant dose of discomfort, brings us to rock bottom and opens the door to a full-on reset.


Illness freezes the movement and invites the silence.


It disconnects us from the external world and its frequently overwhelming and aggressive stimuli. Instead, it redirects our attention inward, towards ourselves and the many signals from within. We begin to ‘pay attention inside now’ (PAIN). It’s like my body is saying: ‘Hey, that general weakness, tiredness and blocked nose might be important!’.


Being unwell encourages reflection upon what really serves us and what no longer does. 


It forces us to surrender, give up on control, takes away the (perceived) absolute power over our lives.


During illness, we release social norms, internal rules, and even bodily controls, all with the purpose to remove the ‘intruder’ from our bodies – be it toxins, bacteria or viruses, or suppressed emotions.


Being unwell sparks gratitude for the smallest improvements, ray of sunshine, and walking to the local wood. 


It also ignites the need for change, strong desire to take care of ourselves, and a determination to let go of old habits and patterns.


And finally, it attracts unexpected acts of kindness and empathy. It makes you appreciate the people around you even more.


I had no other choice but to surrender and embrace things as they were. Surprisingly, at some point I felt quite content with this unplanned break!

These were the lessons I have taken away from this experience:

How about I learn to accept the polarity of all beings?

There is no Yang without Yin.

No day without night.

No activity without rest.

No movement without stillness.

No expansion outside without a close look inside.

No change without the discomfort.

No gratitude without the loss.


Then I checked with myself and maybe you would like to do the same:

How much do I push beyond my limits and neglect the fundamental needs for rest and stillness until I reach a point of unbearable discomfort?

What subtle messages from my body did I overlook before reaching the point of illness?

How many nights of lack of sleep, overly ambitious commitments, lack of movement, and on-the-go meals do I require before I begin respecting my body and making myself a priority?

As we approach the start of the intriguing new year, I invite you to approach things differently. 


Instead of diving into a list of New Year’s resolutions, why not resonate with the ‘theme’ outside our windows (at least here in the UK) and yourself permission to simply be. 

Be with yourself. 

Take a moment to connect with your needs, desires and dreams. 

Scan your body and mind, acknowledging any discomfort that may have lingered longer than you’d prefer.

Stand in front of the mirror and truly see the person who is most important in your life – Yourself. 

That’s it. No plans, no commitments, no agenda. At least, not just yet.


Have a wonderful date with yourself!