I think we can all agree that getting sick–especially when the weather is nice–is pretty much the worst ever. Nobody wants to be camped out on the couch with a box of Kleenex, chained to a every-four-hours Advil regimen, no matter how many shows you could be binging on Netflix. Now that I’m done with school, I really don’t get SICK all too often, but it seems like I am susceptible to seasonal colds. Know what I totally don’t have time for, though? Colds! That’s why I’ve come up with a few strategies to punch an upcoming illness in the face. 80% of the time they work every time. Seriously though, if you’re feeling under-the-weather, do this. These six actions are ideal for stopping sickness in its tracks–perfect for those times when you’re feeling ever-so-slightly south of well. Personally, if I catch it early and act accordingly, I can usually avoid full-blown illness…and even if I’m a little late, these things seem to take the edge off and decrease the length of whatever bug I’m dealing with. Try them! Then, next time you’re feeling off, you can say to your body, “what are you talking about?! I’m not getting SICK!”
1. Hot baths with Epsom salt and hydrogen peroxide.
This is a secret I learned from an ITG interview with Liv Tyler, which she allegedly learned from a “hippie-natural-pediatrician”. Chic, no? Anyway, salt and hydrogen peroxide baths are an absolute must when I’m feeling gross. The combination makes you sweat like no other, which I’m obsessed with–you just FEEL your body ridding itself of nasties. It’s super simple and super inexpensive, too. Just draw yourself a hot bath–I like it hot enough to be slightly uncomfortable, but not hot enough to burn, obviously–add one entire bottle of hydrogen peroxide and 2+ cups of Epsom salt to the water, and soak for 20 minutes or so. I like to dry brush before to get my lymph system going and open my pores before bathing, which, in my opinion, intensifies the whole experience. Make sure to hydrate well before and after!
2. Zinc tablets.
Not only can zinc do awesome things for your skin, it’s also crucial for immunity. SO many over-the-counter cold remedies contain zinc as their active ingredient, and while they do work, you can buy yourself a bottle of zinc-only tablets and save major $$$. The key with zinc is to take it as soon as you feel a cold coming on–within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms is ideal. It’s been suggested that zinc supplementation helps to boost immunity and to lessen the severity and longevity of mild illness. Make sure to follow the dosing information on your product’s label, though: too much zinc can actually dampen your immune response! When I’m not at my best, I take one or two zinc supplements a day and occasionally top-off with soothing, zinc-containing Sambucus lozenges. Find out more about zinc HERE!
3. Thieves oil.
Essential oils are having a major moment right now, and even though I’m not super well-versed in all of their supposed benefits and properties, I DO have a go-to oil for ~*healing*~: Thieves. Thieves is a blend of lemon, clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils. I’ve seen it described as “cleansing”…to me, it has a very warm, comforting, yet vaguely medical scent. If I’m feeling a cold coming on, make myself a hot towel using Thieves oil, or simply take a large whiff straight from the bottle every few hours or so. It seems to clear up my sinuses and give me a temporary boost in mood and energy, which I appreciate. I’ll also add a few drops of Thieves oil to the corner of our shower and crank up the heat for a DIY steam room–a totally a spa-like experience. 😉 I’m not brand loyal to any particular oil manufacturer when it comes to Thieves, and since I don’t actually INGEST the oil, I feel fine about using an inexpensive blend for this purpose. This being said, I’m no oil expert, so if you’re looking to get further in on the essential oils action, definitely do your research!
While this is so much easier said than done, I find that if you can force a rest day at the beginning of a cold, you can pretty much stave off actual sickness. The key here, though, is to rest up ASAP, while you’re still feeling semi-decent. Skip your workout, forget about your step count, just take it easy. You don’t have to commit to napping or spend 24 hours in bed, but if you can avoid any extra/above-and-beyond physical exertion, do it. If you want your body to be able to fight off infection first and foremost, you don’t want to tax it any further with unnecessary exercise. Give yourself a break and hit it hard once you’re feeling better. Get to bed earlier, too! Sleep is restorative!
I’m a big believer in literally baking the illness out of me, so I bundle myself up in blankets, sleep in a sweatsuit and SOCKS, and basically cling to a heating pad for dear life whenever I’m feeling a bug coming on. Why? It WORKS – at least for me. Your mileage may vary. Seriously though, I’ve been sick on vacation (THE WORST) and I got better–like, well enough to go on ‘excursions’–in 24 hours flat thanks to a good six hours of laying out in 93° heat, drinking hot chocolate, and eating fresh fruit. Don’t get me wrong…it was TERRIBLE. But it worked. If I’m feeling off, I take extra care to dress warmly, do “warming” activities like baths, saunas, or sun-bathing sessions, and to avoid getting chilled. Chills are awful and I am not about that life. Socks, hoodies, sweats, and sun? Get at me.
6. Intuitive eating.
When it comes to eating while semi-sick, I’m a proponent of mindless eating. Not mindless in that I eat everything in sight just because I feel like it, but mindless in that I don’t limit, restrict, or intentionally attempt to eat in any kind of way. I just eat. When I’m not feeling well, I listen to my body and feed it whatever sounds good. More often than not, I find that I’m actually craving healthy, nutrient-packed food–fruit, vegetables, maybe a little cheese or whole grain bread. Sometimes, I want comfort food like macaroni and cheese or a Happy Meal. Other times, I gravitate toward anything spicy. What I usually do not want? Desserts, juices, and other sweets. So really, I just go with it. I eat mindlessly, but intuitively. I figure that my body knows best, and I’m craving certain things for a reason!
What are your top illness-avoidance strategies?!