Facilitating When You Are Sick


I haven’t been feeling well for a few days. I can feel a cold coming on. Usually I get pretty worried about getting sick. The worry comes from not being able to perform my so called duties. When I actually think about just the getting sick part, it brings up an amazing feeling of just being able to rest. Having a lovely cup of tea, and reading a novel among many naps. What could be more delightful than being sick if you could allow yourself to do this?

Do you use the same self-care methods as I do? Check them out here.

Pamper Your Body- Step 1

The first thing I did for self care was take a hot shower, wash my hair, put lots of moisturizer on (where I am, winter is approaching, and the furnace air is very drying). I dress in my favorite clothes. I put on funky wild red socks from my niece Sarah. I wear my white meditation cozy fleece jacket. I put a cute, kid-like butterfly clip in my hair. See below. Nothing about this outfit particularly goes together.

Why? They please me. Staying healthy is about a positive mind set. This is also essential to the work of the facilitator. If you remain positive even when you have doubts or don’t feel well, the group will go much further. This positivity is more important in my experience than any other single factor. It doesn’t mean being inauthentic – e.g., forcing fake cheerfulness. You can still be vulnerable like I am with you today – not feeling well. But when you instill a sense an inner calmness and joy about the work they are about to do with you, that builds three kinds of trust:

    1. 1) Trust in the process,
    1. 2) trust in your ability to lead them, and,
    1. 3) trust in their ability to get exactly where they need to go.

OK, I did it. I did manage to find some link between self-care and the work we do as facilitators! Nice job Barb! (Note: That is a little encouraging note of appreciation to myself to build and reinforce my positive emotional state!)

Pamper Your Body – Step 2

A second self care practice especially around getting a cold, is making ginger tea. Our son, Gabriel is living with us for a short time now and he is a chef. I have to say he is an extraordinary chef who cooks extraordinarily healthy food. So he has taught me a few more tricks about making ginger tea which I will share with you right now.

Ginger tea is a warming drink which is especially good if you are experiencing a cold and need something warming in your system. Here is a photo series to help you understand how I make the tea. Two methods – one in the pot and one directly into the cup. The latter is the quick and dirty method. The former is if you want to be drinking a lot of cups of tea during the day like I will be doing today.



Basically, as shown in photos above, you chop ginger root and simmer in a pot for about 20 minutes. I use maybe 2 inches of ginger root for 5 to 6 cups of pure water. After 20 minutes I put it into a cup with a squeeze a lemon and honey if you desire. I did add to honey to my first cup today. It was delicious. Why – because it made me feel good. Again, it is about staying in positive emotional state. So what if you made yourself some ginger tea and put it in the thermos to take with you on the job?

The faster method is for when you don’t have much time. Grate a little ginger root and then pour hot water over the grater so that the ginger lands in a strainer. The flavor goes directly into your cup without a lot of floating bits. See photos below to get the idea.



Here is a another analogy to facilitation and the pot versus direct cup method. When you have time to execute a complex activity, it can be a beautiful thing for the group to experience (i.e., the pot experience) But, often you don’t have the time you thought you had. In this case you do the “direct cup” method. You find an acceptable shortened way to offer your complex activity. You know exactly why you were doing the activity and make sure it achieves that aim.

That brings me to a third self care trick when you are sick or even worried.

The Back Up Plan

As I have said in many blogs before, I like to have a co-facilitator. The benefits of having co-facilitator are irreplaceable when you’re not feeling well. When you are really sick and literally cannot do the job, you have an up-to-speed facilitator who can do the job on his or her own. If you are simply not feeling 100%, you can count on your co- facilitator to keep you in a positive emotional state. They will also serve as a sounding board for times when you don’t feel completely clear. She/he can can ensure the complex activities go well. Being sick can result in a less than clear mind state! If you didn’t have the foresight to line up a co-facilitator, ask one of your colleagues or participants to do the flip chart notes. You don’t have to tell people you are not feeling well. But, you can call on them for more help than you might normally do. Tip – getting someone to drive you to the job is really comforting when you are worried or a bit sick. Rodel Flores, fabulous Portland based violinist and teacher, did this for me a few weeks ago. See photo with Marem Flores below.

Drugs Don’t Generally Help

Finally, I almost never take drugs when I don’t feel well. I find it dulls my mind. Obviously, if my nose is running like a tap, I take medication to dry up my runny nose but in extremely small doses. And as you can probably guess, your clients don’t especially want you there if you are sick. You only do show up sick if the stakes are too high.

You may disagree with not taking drugs but for me, my clear mind and my positive emotional state are the most sacred tools I can bring to any client job. So I always take care of myself on a daily basis. This ensures I rarely get sick and can provide the very best for my clients every time.

Consider, perhaps just this once, not taking the drug that you normally do, and see instead if you can pamper yourself in other ways to keep your mind sharp and your mood positive. There are many homeopathic, naturopathic or Ayurvedic remedies for example which do help.

Hope this helps next time you are not feeling well and you still have to run the meeting!

Be sure to pamper yourself this month with many self care practices!


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Barbara MacKay

Barbara loves “everything facilitation”. She thinks BIG! She loves working with other facilitators around the globe to create transformational results for client groups. She loves teaching others how to do that. She loves presenting at global facilitator conferences. She loves certifying new professional facilitators. If you also love what process facilitation can do for the world, connect with her – virtually or in person. She believes facilitation processes, used well, will provide the roadmap to a more just and sustainable world.

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