Winter is the season for colds and flu, and man, what a pain they are, aren’t they?! Sometimes it can feel like you catch one thing after another like germ dominoes.
So I thought I’d share with you my 7 top tips for getting better when the F-bomb or C-bomb strike.
1. Bed rest
I don’t know at what point we stopped resting in bed and started pushing through illnesses, but it’s a terrible modern habit. When you’re ill, do yourself and everyone else a favour and STAY IN BED! Rest and drink loads of water, fill a hot water bottle, snuggle up under the duvet and sleeeeeeeep. If you can, read some trashy novels or watch a film. But don’t force yourself to do anything. This is your time to do nada. Conserve energy to get better. This is your body’s way of telling you to stop. Listen to it.
I’m no doctor, but when you’re writhing in agony, you’ll need to medicate yourself to the max. You’ll probably have aches and pains and a fever, possibly your bones will hurt. My favourite one-stop-shop for all this is Solpadeine (or any kind of soluble paracetamol and codeine tablet). This will ease the pains and soothe your throat. They’re the strongest over-the-counter painkillers you can buy in the UK.
If you have a cough, take Beecham’s cold and flu in the morning as it contains an expectorant. As well as all this, take oregano oil tablets, or put a couple of drops on the bottom of your feet before bed. This will kill any bugs. Take 1,000mg of vitamin C to boost your immune system. Zinc is also good, as well as Echinacea and a good multi-vitamin.
3. Long baths
Long baths with Epsom salts (four cups per bath) help detoxify the system and increase white blood cell count and immunity. If you can get someone to give you a gentle massage afterwards, do. This will ease tension and promote healing. Especially if it’s from someone you love 🙂
4. Coughing tips
It might sound strange to have tips on how to cough, but bear with me. Two things can really help bring the phlegm up. One is taking a shallow breath through the nose then coughing. Doing this a few times will release anything that wants to come up. Only take a small breath, half a lungful. If you take in a whole lungful, your lungs go crazy and start spluttering. But a little inhale is enough to expel phlegm. Then just keep doing this, a little deeper each time, and working it up. Sounds gross but it really works.
The second tip is to lift up one of your arms as you cough. This opens up the lungs enough for you to expel them. Both these tips came from my grandmother 🙂
5. Yoga and stretching
I know this might go against everything I just said about bed rest, but once you can shuffle around the house, a bit of gentle yoga can work wonders to release stress and tension, open up the chest, stretch out the spine and get your blood and lymph moving again.
When you have a cough, your back can really suffer, so stretching can help ease the pain and get the juices flowing again. When I was sick, I did a very simple routine on the mat each day. I never pushed myself, just kept it ultra slow and careful, nurturing myself as I went, and it felt good. My body felt grateful. At the end of the session, I would lie down in shavasana (corpse pose) and do my healing visualisation (below). I always had a hot water bottle ready so I could pop it on my belly then underneath my upper back to relax those tense coughing muscles.
I’ve always done health visualisations, but since reading Dr David Hamilton’s book “How the Mind Can Heal the Body”, I’ve really got into them. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Hamilton in London earlier this year, and I’m going to interview him for this site soon, so watch this space.
Meanwhile, here are a couple of guided visualisations you can do when you feel ill that should help you get better quicker.
- Imagine a white light entering the top of your head and travelling down your body to your feet, healing and cleansing everything as it goes
- Imagine your white blood cells attacking any bugs and diseases in your body, like ants protecting a tree from invaders – they swoop in and demolish them all
- Imagine sitting under a waterfall and feeling the water flush through your body, washing away any germs or viruses as it goes
7. Tonics and soups
They say “feed the cold and starve the flu” and it’s true, you don’t have much appetite when you have flu. But it’s good to eat something, if you can face it. You need to energy to get well. Soups are great because they’re easy to make and digest. Cooking up a big pot to last you through is a great idea. Just eat as much as you can – little and often.
I also find that homemade teas and tonics work wonders. All these recipes contact turmeric, garlic, ginger, lemon, apple cider vinegar and honey – the kinds of things that will alleviate congestion, cut through the nasty phlegm in your stomach, fight any infection, and give you a pick-me-up.
Turmeric and Ginger Tonic
1 piece of turmeric root
1/2 piece of root ginger
1/4 garlic clove (optional)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
Grate the turmeric, ginger and garlic into a cup. Add the cider vinegar and honey and pour over some boiling water. Leave for 5 min to steep. Stir until the water has turned yellow and the honey has melted. Sip slowly, either warm or cold, then eat the grated roots at the bottom with a spoon.
Easy Throat Soother
A thin slice of red chilli
1 tsp coconut oil
2 slices of root ginger
3 slices of turmeric root
Juice of quarter of a lemon
2 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
A shake of Chinese five-spice
A squeeze of honey
Dash of whisky (optional)
Place all ingredients into a cup and pour over hot water. Stir and leave for 5 mins to steep. This will knock the edge off any cough or sore throat, and warm the cockles at the same time.
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp honey
Place both in a cup and top up with hot water. Stir until both are melted then sip slowly while keeping toasty under a blanket watching your favourite film. You can also gargle with this (though spit rather than swallow).
The Mother of all Medicines
I call this The Mother because it is one of the best things for cold and flu, and pretty much sees off any illness or fatigue. The recipe was given to me by a shaman I met in Port St Johns in South Africa. She brewed it up for me and, honest to goodness, it licked me into shape in no time. Thank you, Clare 🙂
1 small piece of root ginger, chopped into pieces
1 small piece of turmeric root, chopped into pieces
1 small red chilli, sliced, seeds removed
1 garlic clove, whole
1 Rooibos teabag
In a saucepan, place the ginger, chilli, garlic clove, the grated rind of the lemon and the contents of the tea bag (but not the bag itself). Pour over enough water to go half-way up the pan, bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours, lid on. 20 mins before the end of this cooking time, chop the lemon into pieces and add to the pan. You want to preserve as much of the vitamin content of the lemon as possible. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. Push through as much of the ingredients as you can with the back of a spoon, and scrape it off the bottom of the sieve. It should look all sticky like marmalade. Pour this mixture back into the pan and drink small, espresso-size portions every couple of hours. Add honey to taste.