It’s the height of cold and flu season, and I have succumbed. I nearly forgot that today is the day of week I usually upload new posts, thanks to the foggy headedness that comes along with the sore throat, coughing, sneezing, congestion and aches. It’s as though my creative energy is either lodged inside my sinus cavities or running out my nose, and everything has gone white: white monitor screen, white tissues, white towels and sheets being washed almost as frequently as my hands, the white lotion I keep applying to my hands and nose. I am allowing myself one paragraph to gripe, and then we are on to better things.
I don’t feel like doing much of anything right now, but I don’t know what to do with myself when I am doing nothing. Worse, I think the futility of my endeavors to entertain myself when I am too fidgety to nap is compounding my relative misery. I have read every magazine in the house, done crossword puzzles and Sudoku, cleaned and sanitized ad nauseum, watched fluffy snowflakes drift down all day, and even summoned the strength to apply for what looks to be a job I might have invented for myself. Daytime television is worse than ever, not by the obvious poor quality of selections, but by the sheer volume of the poor quality of selections. It was bad enough when eight channels ran daytime drivel; now 500 channels run the same types of programs as the original eight. Why are they doing this to us?
In case you find yourself in the same way I am right now, or for future reference, I’d like to share with you the results of extensive research I have conducted from under a blanket on my sofa. This is the part where I type the disclaimer that I am not a physician and that if you are experiencing illness, you should close your laptop or smartphone and seek the help of a medical professional. There are a lot of interesting ways to treat or prevent a cold, some of which are disturbing to put it mildly, but here are some that actually have research behind them:
- SLEEP. Multiple university studies have demonstrated that 7-8 hours of sleep is the ticket to reducing your chances of catching a cold by at least threefold, if not four. Uninterrupted sleep is best, but if you have to supplement with naps to compensate, that might be better than forging ahead with less.
- POWER ON. As long as your symptoms are from the neck up, your workout is still your friend. You might not get back to 100% before those who lay low (and vice versa), but you are likely to find your symptoms mitigated. Which brings me to the next point…
- [DON’T] BLOW IT. I am glad for this reminder as I have just opened my third box of tissue. Close off one nostril and blow gently through the open one, then switch sides, or maybe better yet, just take a decongestant. Blowing too forcefully through both nostrils at once can propel mucus upward into your sinuses!
- HUMIDIFY. This one might be my downfall, because after a humid summer, I am loathe to invite moisture into the air. I love the dry air, but unfortunately, so do cold viruses. I personally am compensating with hot showers and lingering over large mugs of hot tea.
- INVOKE THE GOD OF CACAO. YES! Although I’m not convinced of the research, I would like to be. Researchers in the UK suggest that hot chocolate might suppress coughing, but they used dairy milk, which notoriously worsens coughing for a lot of people. I deduce that it’s the chocolate itself that may have suppressed the coughs they induced in their subjects. In the name of science and compassion for my fellow humans, I am personally taking on this one.
Until next time, be well!