Two weeks ago, my allergies hit me hard. I was sniffling, teary eyed, sneezing, the works. That was on Thursday. And then by Friday, I was in full-blown cold territory. Super congested, constantly blowing my nose, the works. I can handle a migraine, but one thing I hate more than anything is feeling sidelined by a cold. I committed to getting rid of that cold as fast as I possibly could…and by Monday morning I felt like a new person! Here’s how I did it.
- Lots of fluids. The number one thing I do when I’m feeling congested is water, water, water. Or maybe water, sweet tea, smoothie, water, gatorade, water. Why? The more hydrated you are, the thinner your mucus becomes, which makes it so much easier to expel. Translation: blowing your nose will actually help you feel cleared up when you’re hydrated, instead of stuck like molasses on a cold day. If you feel congested in your head or your chest, start drinking all the fluids – that includes soup and smoothies!
- Stay away from the Afrin. While it offers great relief momentarily, it can ultimately give you rebound swelling and congestion, making you feel like your cold is lasting longer. If you need it to get through one tough workday or event, go for it, but I took it only once and then stuck it out. This really helps you stay in tune with your body’s signals: if you’re feeling really congested, you can tell when you’re starting to get hydrated enough because things will start moving more. If you take Afrin and are falsely decongested, you can’t tell how your body is really doing, which might lead you to push it too much and end up overdoing it and making yourself sicker for longer.
- Decongestant. Sometimes the fluids are not enough. I try to stay away from drugs as much as I can, especially ones that simply dry you up so that you have symptomatic relief but not healing. But sometimes, as you can tell, you are too stopped up to even breathe. I like to take good old fashioned Sudafed (not 12 hour, the 4-6 hour kind) to help get things moving along. As you can probably tell by now, I believe in enhancing the body’s natural ability to get stuff OUT – your body is a filter and you can tell how that filter is doing by listening to it! I’ll take decongestant a few times to get the process rolling, but again, if you’re hydrated your body will do its thing and expel stuff it doesn’t want in there. Same goes for why I’m not a huge fan of juice cleanses: your liver is constantly “detoxing’ your body, so if you provide it with plenty of fluids you’ll be able to keep all your systems operating at their peak.
- Rest. I’ve already mentioned listening to your body a few times, and a really important way of doing this is by resting. Are you exhausted? Your body is telling you to lie down. Maybe even take a nap! Stay in bed, stay on the couch, cancel those plans, and definitely skip that workout. It might feel good to go on a gentle walk a couple of times to get some fresh air, but if your body is sore, tired, and you’re feeling fatigued, give yourself the rest you need. This is a great time to take naps, watch lots of Netflix, and read those books/magazines you’ve had on your nightstand for so long. I stayed in bed for about 36 hours straight and it was FABULOUS – and by Monday, I felt like a new person.
- Get back to your routine. Last but not least, get back to your normal routine when you feel good! Don’t use being sick as a reason to derail yourself from your favorite routines and habits. If you are ravenously hungry like I was, eat what your body wants! But once you’re feeling good, try to incorporate those fruits and veggies and healthy fats again, and step away from the coffee cake (ugh I truly do have my vices). Once you’re feeling good, get back to your regular workout, but maybe take it easy the first time – if it’s been a week since you last worked out, be gentle with yourself! Think of this as part of the healing process, and as part of the prevention process. Fill yourself with nutritious foods, keep your body moving, stay hydrated and get lots of rest. You’ve recovered, so now think about this as preventing your future colds and sicknesses.
The big takeaway? LISTEN to your body. It is sending you messages. Are you tired? Stay in bed. Super hungry? Eat what feels good, and drink plenty of fluids along with those meals. Feeling congested? Again, chug those fluids! Your body is really good at knowing how to repair itself, so listen to it!