Skip to main content

How to Deal with the Stress of Unpaid Sick Days THis Cold and Flu Season

Stress management tips from Dr. Sanchez

As part of the Right to Rest and Recover campaign, Theraflu is partnering with licensed psychologist, Dr. Lisette Sanchez, to raise awareness of the emotional and mental health impacts that the inability to take paid sick days can have.

Taking a sick day can cause stress

In the U.S. it’s well known that we have a “push through” culture when it comes to taking time off from work when we are sick. This means we often feel, or are made to feel, guilty for missing work to recover from an illness. For so many people, there’s a financial element too – there are many Americans who can’t afford to take even one day off because they don’t have paid sick days. This can be detrimental to a person’s mental and financial well-being, and cultural stigmas associated with taking sick days only add to the stress.

If you are feeling the mental and financial pressures related to taking time to rest and recover, read Dr. Sanchez’s tips on ways to help you manage your stress this cold and flu season.

1. Talk to a trusted loved one

Reach out to a close family member or friend for support. It helps to talk it through with someone you trust and will reduce the feelings of isolation you may experience.

2. Focus on what is in your control

Are you able to go to bed a little earlier for more rest? Are you drinking enough fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated? What else is in your control?

3. Engage in a self-care activity

Do something to help you wind down: listen to your favorite music or podcast to lift your spirits, take a bath, or allow yourself a few extra minutes of a hot shower.

4. Express your gratitude

Each morning, write down three things you are grateful for. Focusing on something we’re grateful for can help us develop a different perspective on the difficult circumstance we’re experiencing.

5. Try a progressive muscle relaxation

This is an exercise that will help you release some of the tension that you are experiencing in your body. It can also be done in as little as five minutes. For this exercise, you want to find a comfortable position – you can do it sitting down or standing up. Once you are in a comfortable position, you will start tensing and then relaxing muscles in your body. Start with your toes, tense them up and hold them and then release them. As you release the tension, imagine the stress leaving your body. Then move up your body, tensing and releasing each body part. Each time you can visualize the tension releasing.

About Dr. Lisette Sanchez

article image

Dr. Lisette Sanchez is a bilingual and bicultural licensed psychologist, coach, and speaker. She is the founder of Calathea Wellness, a virtual practice providing individual therapy, coaching, and speaking services. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley with immigrant parents from El Salvador and Mexico, she developed a passion for working with BIPOC folks and first-generation professionals.

Theraflu is helping those in need

Theraflu helps to distribute microgrants to women and families, who do not have access to paid sick time through the Rest & Recover Fund - a program created in 2021 to help offset lost wages from unpaid sick days. To learn more about Theraflu’s campaign to raise awareness of this issue, please visit

Recommended Articles

Young woman that is sick blowing her nose and huddling under a blanket.

Recovering from Fatigue After the Flu

Learn about recovering from fatigue that sets in after the flu with information from Theraflu. Read more about post-flu fatigue and how long it lasts.

Woman laying in bed with aches and pains from the flu.

How to Relieve Aches in Your Body from the Flu

Learn how to relieve aches in your body from the flu with help from Theraflu. Explore how long body aches last from the flu and what you can do about them.