8 Tips to Shorten that Pesky Cold

Along with the lovely crisp air, fun-filled holidays, and delicious seasonal foods, we also get cold and flu season. There’s nothing more annoying than a pesky cold that just won’t go away fast enough. In an ideal world, you’d get a nice long weekend to recover, but not many have that luxury. Most of us can’t afford to take the time off of work, neglect our daily responsibilities, or skip a week’s worth of workouts. So how do you shorten the life-span of that cold, and prevent getting them in the future? Here are my top 8 tried and true tricks!!

HYDRATE: One of the best ways to recover from and prevent a cold, is to hydrate. If you are already good about drinking water, drink extra. If you aren’t, now is a great time to really get that extra water in. Drinking lots of water helps to reduce stress and inflammation in the body, which makes it easier to fight off that cold. It is also the best way to continuously relieve that sore throat that so-often accompanies a cold.

SLEEP: I generally shoot for for 8-9 hours of sleep per night, but when I’m sick, I try to pack in as many hours as possible – up to 12! Your body uses time asleep to repair and rejuvenate, so not getting enough ZZZ’s can make it extra hard to fight off a cold. If you chronically don’t get enough hours, you may be putting yourself at risk for catching a cold or the flu! I like to wake up early, but I let that go when I’m not feeling well, and whenever possible go to bed extra early or sleep late to give my body a few extra hours to repair.

EAT: Eating enough can be hard during a cold, but now is the time you really want to nourish your body. I like to stock up on really nourishing and warming foods during a cold. A big batch of chicken vegetable soup, lots of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, and smoothies are my go-to’s. Smoothies are extra handy if you’re really having a hard time getting food down. Your body has to work overtime to fight off the cold, so it’s important to provide ample nourishment. Why make your body work harder than it needs to?!

REDUCE EXTERNAL STRESS: This one can be tricky: stress is present in every life, however while we may not be able to get rid of it, we can manipulate the way we deal with it. If you are having a hard time juggling stress, try getting extra sleep, schedule-in a workout, practice meditation or yoga, and my number one trick: practice mindfulness. No matter what you have going on in a given week, take it one day, or even one hour, at a time. Live in the now rather than the past or future. Reducing additional stress is crucial when overcoming sickness, because again, the added stress makes it more difficult for your body to do its job of fighting off the illness.

DRINK TEA: I love tea when I have a cold, and it’s the first thing I reach for (rather than medicine). I sweat by lemon, ginger, and turmeric tea. You can either buy it in tea bag form, or make your own by simply steeping fresh ginger, lemon, and turmeric with hot water!

EXERCISE: When your sick, it’s important to listen to your body when it comes to exercise. It’s definitely OK to work out when sick, and can even be beneficial! However, if you are too sick to get out of bed, have a bad headache, nausea, or an especially bad cough, avoid exercise until you are feeling better. A good rule of thumb I like to go by, is if I can manage a full day of work without feeling absolutely miserable, I am OK to try an easier workout. If you are on the second-half of a cold or sinus infection, a workout is great for helping to break up mucous and get it out of your system. A good sweat also helps me feel like I’m getting the germs “out of my system”. This is more of a mental benefit, but regardless, it helps me feel better and more energized.

GET OUTSIDE: Virginia fall has been so lovely thus far, and I’m lucky enough to not have allergies, so getting outside in the beautiful fall air when I’m sick is so refreshing. I hate being cooped up in the house, and it just feels great to breathe some “clean” air and get some sun. Again, this is more of a mental trick for me, but it makes all of the difference.

REFRESH YOUR HOME: The moment I get past the “hump” of a cold, I change the bedsheets, do laundry, clean the kitchen, vacuum, and air out our apartment. These are things that I often neglect when I’m not feeling well, so 1) they usually need doing, and 2) I like to clean the house of the worst of the “germs”. It makes me feel better to get my home back in order, get some fresh air circulating, and sleep in a clean bed. If you share your home with a partner, it’s especially helpful to do these things to avoid passing the cold back and forth!

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