The Dos and Don’ts of Sickness


If you’re one of the few residents of Beirut who didn’t get sick over the holidays, consider yourself truly blessed. Most of the people I know came down with one or more virus, infection or other illness between the Alexa storm-induced freeze in early December, and through the Christmas-New Year season. It’s kind of a no brainer that people are more likely to get sick in the winter, but holidays are especially gruesome because most people don’t get nearly enough rest, binge drink, and congregate with germ-carrying foreigners who’s bacteria strains are unfamiliar to their bodies. The biology of it doesn’t really matter here, and people will still get sick regardless, but here are a few social pointers on how to be sick, and how to deal with the sick.

Do try to prevent it

The best thing to do is not get sick in the first place. Follow conventional and homeopathic advice to avoid getting sick, like taking vitamins, drinking fluids and getting enough rest. Flu shots are also helpful.

Don’t ignore your doctor’s orders

If your doctor tells you to stay in bed, stay in bed. When they tell you to drink plenty of fluids, take it seriously. Even small tips for recovery are essential and the quicker you recover the sooner you’ll get back to your normal life.

Don’t drink

Take a break and let your body have a rest. Alcohol can weaken your immunity, which can make you sicker, and if you’re taking medication it can also damage your liver. We know it’s hard to give up the booze, but do control yourself.

Do get support

They say laughter is the best medicine, and I firmly believe that hugs are too – although unfortunately you probably shouldn’t engage in the latter because you’ll pass on your germs. Real or telepathic, hugs and their verbal equivalents really help. Make sure you surround yourself (even if that means digitally) with friends who are there to support you and make you feel all warm and fuzzy in your darkest, sneeziest and grossest moments.

Don’t overdo it

If your friends are calling you in support and messaging you sweet words, don’t milk it for all it’s worth. We know it sucks, but no one wants to hear your nagging ALL the time. Give your friends a break once in a while. It’ll also distract you and help you be more positive.

Don’t tell them they look good

If you’re a friend of the sick person, there’s a certain etiquette you need to follow and it doesn’t include lying. They know they don’t look good and telling them they do will only make them feel worse. First of all, when you’re sick you probably don’t even care what you look like, and if you do, you’re still well aware that you’re not at your hottest.

Do sympathize with the sick

If you’re a big baby when you come down with something (like I am) then you’ll understand the importance of sympathy. All we want is attention and affection so be nice, ask how we’re feeling often, and commiserate if possible.

Don’t say I know what you’re going through

Unless you actually do, don’t say this to a sick person. It’s not necessary and it may spark some outrage. When you’re sick, you feel AWEFUL and you want to believe that no one on Earth ever felt the horrible way you do right now. Hearing your pain undermined or equaled to something that maybe isn’t equal at all is frustrating and even infuriating. Sympathysing is one thing but making them feel like they’re not going through anything especially terrible won’t make anyone feel better.

Do offer to help

Sick people need to recover, in bed. If you want to be a truly good friend, one who’s judged on your actions and not just your kind words, ask how you can help out with chores, errands and other favors. This will truly show you care and do loads of good for the recovering sick person and even the people in his or her life.