I guess it’s a punishment for the amount of air travel I’ve been doing lately but in my first week back home, with a running schedule in mind and core fitness plans and blogging plans galore, I developed the worst cold I’ve had in a long time. Coughing, runny nose, terrible dry skin, sore throat, blocked ears and more mucus than a two-year-old; I pretty much had the works this week, thank god it’s nearly over. Everyone knows there’s no cure to a cold apart from to sit it out, but there are ways you can feel healthier and fitter while you’ve got it and hopefully recover quicker too.
Everyone has their tips, usually inherited from their parents and then adapted to their own generation, so I thought I’d share mine.
- The incredible cold drink
I made this inspired by all the ginger I’ve been having in my tea in India. I am also not a fan of the traditional lemon-and-honey drink that I’m always recommended – I do like honey, I just don’t like sweet drinks too much. So I went for lemon and ginger in hot water. I just took a lump of fresh ginger (what’s the official term for how you buy fresh ginger – root? Clump? Chunk? Stem?) and shaved strips off using a vegetable peeler. I tossed these in a mug with several strips of lemon peel, peeled the same way, and two small slices of lemon. I definitely put more ginger strips than lemon strips or the lemon gets overwhelming, but you can tailor it to your taste. Then I poured in the boiled water and squeezed a little more lemon juice in afterwards. The result is a diving, refreshing and citrus-y drink while still being warm and soothing on your throat. Of course it’s crammed with the goodness lurking in ginger (garlic would be the absolute best thing to boost your health but I don’t fancy Hot Garlic Drink personally) and that nice cleansing feeling that citrus leaves you with. I’m going to be drinking this from now on regardless of whether I’m ill or not.
- The Steam
I 100% recommend this for feeling cleansed and like some of your cold, at least, has escaped your body. The only time I don’t like doing this is if my skin feels so dry and sore, especially around my nose and lips, that I shudder at the thought of putting water on them. Otherwise crack out that bowl of steaming water, leave it to cool and then pop a towel over your head. I normally hang out over the bowl, when I don’t have a cold, for fifteen to twenty minutes but it becomes more like ten minutes when I am feeling lousy. You can also add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, or Olbas oil – which is great for clearing out a congested nose – to help you feel a bit more refreshed, at least for a few hours afterwards. You should feel great and very clean but it may also dry your skin out a little more than normal, which brings me to…
Of course this is vital for your body anyway; plenty of water, juice and soothing hot drinks can never harm you and can only help while you have a cold. You may also find your skin is much drier than normal, to the point of flaky even, and needs some special TLC. My skin is positively oily naturally and this week I can’t throw moisturiser on it fast enough. Now is the ideal time to use up that slightly-too-thick moisturiser that you bought once and has been lying around, if your skin is feeling more sensitive a heavier, thicker moisturiser will definitely help keep it hydrated and less painful. You will probably need to apply a few more times a day too. The same is true of your lips too. I really hate heavy or sticky balms and I dislike the feel of Vaseline, but now is the good time to use a Vaseline-like product or a heavier, thicker lip balm to keep your lips from peeling away completely.
- The Softest Tissue
I don’t recommend a specific brand because…well let’s be honest it’s tissue. I just happen to think one of the greatest inventions, possibly all century for cold-prone people like me, is the Balsam Tissue; this super gentle, nice smelling God Of Tissues makes my nose feel a lot better and stops me being quite so Rudolf while I’m having my cold.
- Fruit and Vitamins
We’ve all heard ‘Starve a fever, feed a cold’ – who still sticks by this by the way? I feel like I do to an extent. I definitely believe in feeding a cold with lots and lots of vitamins. I find the nicest thing to eat to keep my mouth feeling fresh is citrus-y fruit, I mean, don’t go over board but I love to eat oranges and lemons (I’m weird I know) when I’m feeling gross. I also go all out on the tomatoes, because they’re packed with goodness, avocados and raw or fresh veg in general; it makes me feel clean. Now is a great time to take those vitamin tablets you always promise yourself you will take too. I go through phases of taking vitamin supplements but when I’ve got a cold I definitely remember to take a few of these bad boys in the hope of moving the illness along a little faster.
- Gentle exercise
I know it’s super tempting to stay still all the time when you have a cold. They can make you ache, feel heavy and generally horrible and usually completely exhaust you. Sometimes the only thing to do is stay horizontal but other times you will feel so much better and fresher. I didn’t keep up to my usual running program obviously but I found a felt surprisingly better if I did go for a gentle walk. About a mile is probably ideal, then go home and put your feet up again. If you find it’s mostly your lower body that’s exhausted and actually your arms feel alright, then a gentle arm work out with low-weight dumbbells (mine are very low weight) helps me feel like I’m not totally losing conditioning and fitness but it doesn’t set me back in recovery. Equally a couple of leg exercises, a few leg raises for the thighs perhaps, kick-backs for the bum, and maybe one or two squats. You could even just try a minute’s plank, or thirty seconds – all of these things just help you feel a bit fitter, I can’t bear the thought of totally stopping exercise so it’s definitely a mental pick-me-up for me.
If anyone else is having a pesky summer cold, I really feel for you! Do you have any cold tips to share or remedies that you like to eat or drink? I’d love to know and try them.
Love Jess X