“You’re not sick enough.”

That’s what I was telling myself as I shivered in my bed with chills and sweats. I was telling myself that I needed to be “sicker” in order to call the doctor back.

When I initially called the Covid-19 Telehealth doctor, she said the symptoms sounded like a cold and if the symptoms got worse, I should call her back. She didn’t seem phased that I was experiencing these symptoms after 4 weeks of business travel.

“You’re overreacting.” I told myself. But I self -quarantined just to be safe.

People who had Covid-19 on the news were in hospitals clinging to life. I wasn’t that sick and I didn’t want to bother the healthcare professionals who I witnessed working so hard to save lives daily. Plus, I needed to keep hustling to find new work since my other contracts were being cancelled due to the pandemic.

It was now week four of cold and flu like symptoms. I was exhausted! My eyelids hurt and felt heavy. I wasn’t sleeping through the night. I couldn’t even muster the strength to get out of bed. It hurt to breathe. I wasn’t short of breath but it felt as if someone had hugged me too hard. As I inhaled it felt as if a small fork was scraping the inside of my chest. It’s perfectly normal to feel like I had a small elephant sitting on my chest. Right?!

My husband pleaded with me each day to call the Covid 19 Telehealth doctor back. Once the “elephant” put up residence on my chest, I finally called the Telehealth doctor back.

“Wow! You’re still feeling sick after all this time?! Well, the good news is you probably had Covid-19 but you may have gotten through the worst of it.” she said. “Yeah, you should speak to your primary care physician and get seen in person just to make sure everything is ok.” She said sunnily and sent me on my way.

I made an in -person appointment with my primary care doctor immediately after the second Telehealth call and shared my experience and symptoms. My doctor was shocked and infuriated that I wasn’t ordered a Covid-19 test upon my first interaction with the Telehealth doctor 4 weeks prior. She ordered a test and prescribed some medication that we believed would help my symptoms.

My primary also asked me if I was resting and hydrating. That question made me take pause.

Vulnerable Share: If there was a report card for Self Care while I was dealing with this health challenge, I’d get a C minus- at best.

As a solopreneur, you don’t stop working.

I should know better. I am a survivor of work burnout. I know how important Self Care is to overall health and productivity.

I was “sort of” walking the talk of Self Care that I share with my coaching clients. I’d drink 5-6 glasses of water a day. I walked during conference calls to stay active. I joined a virtual choir to help manage my anxiety. I was working with a nutritionist -so I was eating healthier. But there was one Self Care routine that I absolutely failed at- REST.

Before and during the whole ordeal, I wasn’t resting. I wasn’t getting a good night’s sleep. Anxiety of being out of work and this perpetual cold were keeping me up at night. I would haphazardly meditate before bed. My morning routine transformed into praying for the strength to get out of bed. And I wasn’t taking breaks from my computer.

I took a hard look at my relationship to Rest. At its core, I saw Rest as laziness. “If you’re not doing something, you’re not productive.”

“Rise and Grind” was how I was operating to keep my business running for the past six years. And with the pandemic impacting my contracts, I needed to continue to build my business no matter what. People needed my help. But I needed to help myself first!

I needed to do better. I had to do better. My health depended on it.

My test results came back negative. However, my symptoms were not diminishing. The medication wasn’t making a dent in bringing me relief. Why am I not getting better?

To make matters worse, the health care provider wouldn’t authorize another Covid-19 test.

I had now collected several doctors that advised that they strongly believed that I tested a “false negative” for the virus. What I was experiencing were residual effects of the virus. Then one of my doctors said something to me that shook me to the core.

“You will not get better unless you REST.”

It was like being sentenced to living a life in perpetual illness.

“But you don’t have time to rest! You have an empire to build!” my Solopreneur Soul whispered.

“I have to make the time.” I responded.

I just signed a new client contract that has me working eight hours a day, five days a week for the next four months. This is fantastic for my business but I needed to strategize a healing self care game plan to make it through this next chapter of my success story.

My Healing Self Care Game Plan:

Prioritize: I’ve made “Grow Energy” one of my Key Performance Indicators for my business. The more energy I have, the better I perform and can be of service to my clients. This makes Self-Care a business priority. The key way to grow energy is to Rest.

Schedule: I thrive on schedules. I took a look at things I had already scheduled after my client work day and prioritized what was essential and what was something that could wait until later. My afterwork nap is a non-negotiable. I’ve even been lucky enough to schedule a cat nap or two during lunchtime.

Saying No: The virtual happy hours, get to know you chats and networking calls would have to wait. You need to bring the right energy to a networking call. And if I was running on empty, I wasn’t going to be giving my best and leading with the intention of collaboration and support.

Change Up The Routine: Since I have to take several medications before bed, I had to change up my bedtime routine. I go to bed at the same time each night. I make sure that I eat at a regular hour, stopped reading/watching the news, disconnected from social media and meditate with some deep breathing exercises before I fall asleep. I still have trouble sleeping through the night, but if I do wake up, I return to my deep breathing exercises to get back to sleep. Melatonin has also been helping as well.

I’m still on the mend. I have good days and bad days. But I’ve noticed that the more rest I get- the better I feel. Those doctors were right!

Rest isn’t being lazy. It’s actually a productivity tool. There’s only one of me out there and I’d like her stick around for as long as she can.

I’ve got an empire to build! But first- I nap.


  • Joyel Crawford

    MBA, CPCC, Career Strategist, Leadership Architect

    Crawford Leadership Strategies, LLC

    Joyel Crawford is the founder of Crawford Leadership Strategies, LLC. She is determined and passionate Certified Professional Career Coach and Leadership Development Training Consultant with over 20 years of experience Human Resources and career management. She helps professional female leaders get unstuck and learn to empower themselves within their careers in the Corporate World. She also helps businesses develop empowered and results driven leaders through engaging leadership development training and facilitation. She is a member of Forbes Coaches Council, Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, and SHRM. Her career advice has been featured in Forbes, Essence, Girlboss, Huffington Post, The Muse, Next Avenue, Chicago Tribune and Thrive Global.