It’s a bit of an ironic twist to be writing the first entry to my new blog while sick with a nasty cold, unable to move from bed most of the day and getting up periodically to meander the house, make tea or putter around with this blog. On day one I had shear denial coursing through me and I attempted to persevere the day with a mounting sharpness in my throat and an aching body. By day two I decided I was, indeed, getting sick. By that night, my cold was full-blown and my body was fighting hard to mount an immune response of equal strength to combat the clever bug. The sinus pressure grew, I clutched my box of tissues, sneezed, and finally admitting I was officially sick. I went directly to my bed where I stayed for the next couple days. Now, by day five, the body aches have subsided, my head only has a slight feeling of vice grips at my temples and my nose is red and sore from the eternal flow of snot. That being said, I am making may way back to health; nurturing my body with sleep, rest, copious cups of tea, warm baths and my dear old friend, the neti pot.
Looking back, I was hard on myself those first days of my sickness, unwilling to admit my body’s defeat by the virus. I had forgotten my own vow of self-love, to honor my body and respect its needs in sickness and in health. After the first two days of that plan clearly not working, I softened and gifted by body the rest it was longing for. I allowed my loved one to take care of me, bring me hot liquids and rub my aching head to relieve the sinus pressure. I gave myself permission to rest and stay in bed for the day, read a book and enjoy the soft glow of the noon day winter sun stream into the bedroom windows and make patterns on the overflowing pile of laundry I had given myself permission to ignore.
We are human, we get sick, we get healthy again and we learn to love all the moments that make us fragile creatures. Below you will find my favorite list of simple remedies for nurturing mind and body when a cold is coming on or while deep in the throes of cold or flu sickness. Above all, be kind to yourself.
The Top 10 Remedies for a Cold
1. Water! Drink plenty of fluids. This can be water, warm herbal tea or soup broths. Your body is working extra hard to fight the infection and can easily become dehydrated so drink at least 8-10 cups per day or more. Avoid caffeine as this can dehydrate the body.
2. Sleep and Rest! Give your body and break it needs. Honor your need for extra rest. Call in sick to work or school, stay in your cozy bed, daydream, watch the light through the window, watch an episode of your favorite show on Hulu, take naps and go to bed early. It can be hard to stay put, especially when you might be in that in-between stage where you feel “kinda sick but not quite real sick”. Resting at this stage may actually shorten duration or just give your immune system enough of an edge to keep you from getting a full-blown cold.
3. Steam inhalations. One of my very favorite remedies that makes a world of difference. Here’s what you do: Boil a small pot of water on your stove, just as it comes to a boil, turn off heat and add 6 drops eucalyptus globulous essential oil and a few drops of oil of oregano. Both will help open nasal and bronchial passageways, soothe inflamed tissues, loosen mucus and help with antiviral effects. Use caution at this point and test the steam from a distance to make sure it is an ok temperature. Move pot off the stove and onto a low counter or coffee table using a hot pad underneath. Place a small towel over your head and stand over the steaming pot , deeply inhaling the vapors through nose and mouth. Pull up a seat and stay awhile. Keep a box of tissues handy, enjoy the smells and the powerful clearing effect! If I wasn’t so darn sick I would feel like it was a day at the spa!
4. Learn to love your Neti Pot! If this odd-looking instrument is something you fear, then fear no more. Call me, I’ll walk you through it. No problem. I promise it will change your abolution habits! Nasal irrigation is a bit like flossing your nose… once you start, the habit makes a world of difference!
5. Stay extra warm. Wear plenty of layers and cover up your neck and lower back.
6. Draw a warm bath or take a hot shower. Add a half cup of epsom salts or a few drops of essential oil. Relax. Light a candle. Woo yourself and your cold back to health. Water and steam always seem to help me feel better!
7. Drink herbal teas such as Echinacea, yarrow, ginger, elderberry or slippery elm. These herbs can have immune boosting effects and slippery elm is great for a sore throat. I highly recommend a little honey and tons of lemon squeezed into hot water. Sip this warming drink throughout the day and even keep a thermos by your bedside at night when a sudden cough attack hits.
8. Eat a nourishing meal. Even if you can’t taste your food, even if you don’t want to get out of bed, even if you’re not hungry… you need to eat! Light, warming soup broths with vegetables and some protein is a needed source of energy for your hard-working body! Mama was onto something with her chicken noodle soup, but why not branch out and have miso, pho or tom yum soup? You can find them all just a short distance away on University Ave in Saint Paul! Call a friend, coerce a loved one, order take out and enjoy!
9. Get extra vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and Zinc. Studies have found mixed results for claims on vitamin C and its ability to fight a cold, but it can’t hurt to try. Your best places to get vitamin C are from colorful fruits and vegetables such as oranges, sweet potatoes, red peppers and kiwi (yes, KIWI!!) but you can also take a supplement to boost your intake.
10. Love, forgive and respect your body. Sickness is bound to happen to us at some point. We have the wisdom to heal all by ourselves with proper rest and nutrients so give yourself a break and allow the process to take place.