Physical, emotional and financial wellbeing
Returning to work after a long term illness can feel scary.
There is a lot of difference between being off work sick for a few days because of flu, or a week or two because of a broken bone to a long term illness that upsets your whole life.
There are no rights and wrongs about going back to work after a long term illness. You can only do what feels right for you.
There are some things to think about to make sure that you are not rushing into returning to work.
After you have dealt with a long term illness, give yourself some time to think about how your priorities have changed. Don’t start making huge changes in your lifestyle until you have talked them through with the important people in your life.
The best way to allow something positive to come from your illness is to understand what parts of your life you want to change and what you are happy with.
Are you physically ready to return to work?
The most important part of your decision to return to work after a long term illness is whether you are actually well enough to return.
The best way to decide if you are well enough to return to work is to ask your doctor if they think you are well enough.
Do you feel fit and well? If you are able to be quite busy at home for a full day and have finished any necessary medical treatment that affects your ability to work, you are probably physically able to return to work.
Are you emotionally ready to return to work?
Even if you are bored being at home all the time and want to get back to doing something more useful with your day, don’t forget that a long term illness can really take it out of you.
Many people who have had a long term illness can feel very emotional during their first couple of weeks back at work, even though they felt ready to return.
This can be for a number of reasons. You may still be coming to terms with your illness. You may be too well to stay at home but not quite well enough to deal with the pressures of work. Your priorities may have changed since becoming ill and you may not want to stay in the same job anymore.
Are you financially ready to return to work?
For many people who have had a long term illness, their plan to return to work can be due to the fact that they need to earn money.
If you do not feel well enough to go back to work, or your doctor has advised against it, you can still make some choices.
- Can you afford to live on your partner’s salary?
- Can you afford to go part time?
- Could you take some unpaid leave?
Work out what you need to live on. This may mean doing without some treats that your previous salary allowed you to enjoy.
When you know what money you need, you can think about whether or not you have to return to work if you don't want to.