Want to 180 that nasty cold without the drugs that make you groggy? Read on to see how I did it.
Tuesday night, about three hours into my sleep, I woke up with migraine, stuffiness and tightness in my chest. It was a cold that wanted to King all other colds. The Bubonic Plague of colds, the just-got-kicked-in-the-face then the head then the chest of colds. The pain unbearable that first night, I even strapped an icepack to my head using athletic tape. (No, I didn’t take a photo).
It was a situation where drugging the symptoms pronto would’ve been the status quo, but that’s not how I roll. Determined not to suppress symptoms (which can actually lead to prolonged illness), on Wednesday morning my #1 job turned to self-care, all natural solutions, no drugs used.
By Friday, I was back to the office, symptoms controlled and running at 70% of my normal activity level. (My standard daily activity level tends to involve 8-10 hours of work, a one hour workout and at least one social activity, making 70% of that a relatively high functioning ability).
I hope if you’re feeling a cold come on these tips can help you, drug-free!
Here’s are the magical methods I employed:
1. Eucalyptus Everything
Get some eucalyptus essential oil or balm. I added drops of the oil to everything I use topically: I put it in my face wash, body wash and conditioner. I put drops of it in a diffuser for my bedroom and I used it in the bathtub. I generously applied eucalyptus balm to my nose, chest and forehead for a natural way to open up the nostrils and get breathing again.
2. Consume liquids. Constantly.
In the first few hours of pain I didn’t want to have liquid at all, it was hard for me to get any water down. The good news is, liquids doesn’t mean plain water and a little flavor goes a long way to poke through your blocked senses and derail dehydration. In the early hours I started by adding a few drops of stevia to my water. When I got a lemon, I used lemon juice to cut the water. Better yet, get some coconut water for hydration, vitamin c and electrolytes all in one.
During the day, make sure you’ve always got your coco water or water and a warm tea to drink. My favorite way to do tea when sick is to use Gingerman Ginger Juice (or juice some ginger), add that to hot water with a teaspoon of raw honey. It’s soothing to the throat and raw honey contains natural antibiotics and has the power to fight internal bacteria. Goodbye cold, hello sweetness!
3. Keep Your Diet Light
Let your internal resources spend its energy fighting your cold, not digesting your food. While it’s never a healthy idea to overeat, when you’re fighting a cold it’s especially important to keep it light. Broths or rice noodle soups are soothing. Lotus Foods makes a millet and brown rice ramen that preps in 4 minutes and is both high fiber and a decent source of protein, all while remaining gluten free and vegan (score!) Treat yourself and indulge in those pricey green drinks or let a friend help you juice your veggies.
My favorite “I’m sick” combo to juice is:
4. Oregano Oil
It naturally fights bacteria, soothes a sore throat and boosts the immune system. All things you want when that terrible cold kicks you in the lung! It’s recommended for no more than 1-2 weeks at a time. You probably won’t have a problem with that limitation since it tastes pretty terrible. I’ve added it to my daily juice for a blended taste of greens.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
A dose of apple cider vinegar keeps the pH balanced. Though it’s acidic in nature, it alkalizes the body, which helps us fight off the nasty cold bug. Additionally, it’s great at breaking up phlegm. My recommendation is to take it straight up (1Tablespoon) and chase it with a little bit of raw honey.
6 + 7 The Miracles of Warm Water
For best results and especially if you are 100% blocked in your nasal cavity, perform these steps together, in this order:
Take a bath
Our sick body needs to relax so healing can take place. A bath with some epsom salt and lavendar should do just the trick. The steam will also help clear up your sinuses. Borrowing from tip #1, I add about 10 drops of eucalyptus oil to my bath. If you don’t have a tub, a steam shower is a great option as well.
Use a neti pot
If you’ve seen my instagram, you might’ve seen I’ve been practicing Ayurveda (if you’re interested in some Ayurvedic foods and tips, head over there). When I got sick, I turned to a yogi cure I’d heard so much about but never tried: the neti pot.
Neti pots look like Aladdin’s lantern and can be purchased in most health food stores or yoga studios. Here’s how I did it:
- Add about half a teaspoon of good quality salt to warm water and stir.
- Add to neti pot (I used about half a pot for each nostril).
- Left nostril: tip head to right side at a slightly deeper angle than 90 degrees
- Put the tip of the neti pot in the left nostril and begin your pour. Tip: exhale out the mouth and focus on the exhale over the inhale.
- The solution will drip out the right nostril.
- Blow your nose and repeat on the other side.
You can do this as many times in a day as needed.
8. Get Some Fresh Air
On Day 1 I couldn’t bring myself to move much let alone go outside. But just opening the windows to get a cross breeze and circulation in the house is helpful for the moving of air and stagnant energy. If it’s freezing outside, try 10 seconds: open the front door, inhale the air from outside, close the door and repeat twice more. If you can get out for a slow walk, even better. Make sure to bundle up, you don’t want to catch (more) cold!
9. Lift Your Spirit
It’s number 9, but for me, it’s been my #1. Keeping a positive attitude even when down and out physically works wonders. Specifically, here’s what worked:
Asking friends for help
On Day 1 I put a message on Facebook asking if I had any friends who would be in my hood who might want to make me feel better. It’s so vulnerable to ask this, but if you don’t ask, you won’t know what you’ll receive. An even better tactic is to reach out individually to friends and request what you need. Trust that it’s not too much trouble and if it is, they’ll say so and if they say so, it’s not about you, so don’t take it personally.
My friends Christine and DAK came over on Day 1 to deliver oregano oil, veggie broth, coco water, fruit strips, flowers and a card. They stayed and hung out with me (from across a long table) for nearly an hour. Having positive friend vibes and connection to others while in quarantine does wonders. Loneliness breeds dis-ease. We’re going for the opposite!
Clean Your Space
The first reaction when sick is often to throw up your hands and say, “Screw it! A mess will be a mess!” Sure, but it doesn’t have to be that bad. As you’ve got bits of energy, pick up those dirty tissues from the ground, make sure your dishes make it into the dishwasher and keep your bed made (it doesn’t mean you can’t crawl back in). It’s a wonder what some normalcy and cleanliness can do, and when you’re cooped up in your home all day, you don’t want to be stuck in a disaster zone (even if you feel like one).
At least once each day, take a moment to think about the blessings in your life. Focusing on the positive leaves less room for any suffering to come through. Remember that pain is inevitable but you choose if you want to suffer with it or not.
See Yourself Better
While respecting your healing process, keep a vision of yourself healthy in your mind. It’s matter of fact: I am following all of these self-care principles and when I’ve done my job in taking deep care, I see myself returning to vibrancy.
This may seem the most obvious, but for you Type A’s like me who don’t understand the meaning of rest, let me make it a bit clearer for you:
-Do not drive
-Do not spend more time working than you do resting and taking care of yourself
-If you must work, take breaks every 30 minutes. Make them extended breaks as possible.
-No working out
-Go to bed before 10pm
-Take naps, your body wants to shut down and repair itself
-Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re picking up on some DIY project you’ve been wanting to do. If there was ever a time to be a couch potato, it’s Day 1.
How do you know when it’s ok to go back to the office?
For me, I knew I could go back to the office when I was able to sleep 7 hours uninterrupted. This is nearly the length of my normal uninterrupted sleep (7-8 hours). On Thursday night (Night 3), I hit this goal. No midnight coughing spells, migraines or breathing problems severe enough to interrupt my nighttime repair. On Friday morning, though still congested, I knew I could safely get myself to work, and, with enough hydration, continue to care for myself throughout the workday. Of course trust your own body, you're your own best guide for when the time is right to get back to it - don't rush it if you can help it! Keep your germs away from others and allow yourself to recoup faster!
All the while getting healthy 100% drug free.
Here’s to your health this cold season!
Got any tips of your own? I’d love to hear about them. Share in the comments below!