Winter is steadily approaching and where I am it already feels very much like we are in the midst of it. My inspiration for today’s post is I’m sick, I know how can one be inspired by sickness but believe me, being sick can be one of the most motivating and inspiring things possible.
I woke up this morning with an extremely sore back and stomach which has since turned into a major headache and upset stomach along with achiness all over. Not your typical flu/cold bug but none the less it sucks. I’m not one to take painkillers so when I asked my partner to bring me some panadol in bed he instantly knew I really wasn’t feeling good.
So how do you beat it? Or at least get through it the best you can.
Here is what I do:
I know it sounds really simple but whenever I start to feel the beginnings of any bug I ramp up my efforts to do these things.
A lot of the time when you are sick it is the last thing you want to do and slaving in the kitchen is definitely something any sick person wants to avoid. That’s why I always have either something in the freezer that I can just heat up or canned soup in the cupboards. I know we all get bombarded with information saying when you are sick make sure you eat healthily. But the truth is from what I’ve found as long as you eat something anything you are doing a hell of a lot better than not eating at all.
Even with an upset stomach I will still eat, and probably more than what I would normally. Your body is under stress and needing extra energy to help it fight whatever bug you have, plus if it’s a stomach bug my view is the more that goes through you the faster the bug gets flushed out. So what do I eat? Well soup of any kind is definitely a favourite but comfort food works too, yes I will eat junk food while sick. Why? because eating junk food or anything that you find particularly tasty releases endorphins which lowers the stress levels in your body which not only can reduce pain but can assist the body in healing. Carbohydrates give you energy, dairy gives you protein and well milk in particular is great at helping the body recover by rehydrating faster than water or any other sports drink and replacing salts lost through sweat.
My tip: When sick eat anything you desire, but still try to add in a few extra nutrients as well.
I can hear you all going but I don’t have the energy. Would you rather be sick for a week rather than a day or two at most? A day or two at most sounds way better to me. I discovered this one after getting frequently sick, I was lying in bed with the flu yet again feeling miserable and thinking about how the immune system works.
When you get a virus or infection the body amps up the production of antibodies and white blood cells in the blood to fight them off. I have a naturally low heart rate (it isn’t uncommon for my resting heart rate to drop to say 40bpm), so after having that thought I wonder if circulation actually had something to do with immunity. Essentially if you have poor circulation or a low heart rate like me your blood circulates slower meaning that when you get an infection or virus your body may be producing the appropriate antibodies and have amped up the production of white blood cells but because your circulation is slow it takes longer for them to reach where they are needed most. Meaning that the nasties that are causing you to feel unwell have already had time to really make themselves at home by the time your body is really fighting against them. This makes the battle harder and makes recovery time longer, so instead of being sick a day or two, you could be out of action for a week or more.
Exercising raises your heart rate, increases circulation and sweating removes toxins from the body. So even though you may not feel like it get moving because it will get those antibodies and white blood cells to where they need to be faster. Don’t over do it though, don’t spend hours in the gym or run a marathon, just a simple walk around the block will help.
My tip: Go for a bush walk, if you live in the city get out of town and go for a walk somewhere green, the fresh air will help you a lot. Or better yet visit the beach, sea air contains saline which will help kill of any ear, nose or throat infections as well as help clear respiratory problems.
The average adult should have 7-8hours sleep a night, when sick you need more. I personally normally need more because of my health issues but when sick you need to make sure you get rest. It is something that is pretty well known, but people don’t seem to understand that sitting on the couch watching tv is actually not as restful as having a good sleep in your bed. Sure your body isn’t doing much on the couch, but your brain is and believe it or not what you watch can affect how rested you are. Your brain is capable of putting your body under stress just by watching something or even reading something, so turn off the TV have a cup of relaxing herbal tea and lie in bed in darkness in silence or with soothing music.
My Tip: Get at least 9-10 hours sleep when sick, if not more.
Stop! put down the whisky! Back away from the bottle of wine!
I’ve been told a lot that whisky and wine can solve anything but reality is it doesn’t sure it has alcohol in it and that kills bugs but the side effects do more damage than what it is worth. When you are unwell your body is already under stress without adding more toxins and stress to it, for starters your kidneys and liver are working hard to flush your system already. Then there is your heart which is pumping extra hard and your blood that is so full of the good guys it really doesn’t need you going and thinning it out. So hold the booze and grab a water, milk, even flat lemonade or juice. Ignore the huge publicity that juice has heaps of sugar in it, yes it does, but when you are sick your body needs that extra energy anyway and if that is what you feel like than go for it.
My Tip: Drink almost constantly I know it sounds horrible but the more that goes in the faster everything will be flushed out.
Oh and DON’T TAKE cold and flu medication, all it does it mask the symptoms and actually dull down the effect of your immune system.
Right so now that I’ve given you my tips on getting better fast, I’ll give you a heads up. Doing those things before you get sick in winter can prevent you from getting the flu, I’m not one for the flu vaccination, I can get it for free because of my heart condition; But knowing a bit about biology, the flu virus and vaccinations I personally don’t see the point. The way the flu vaccination is made is they take a sample of the prominent virus that everyone got last year and they make a vaccine out of it in the hopes that the strain of the virus this year will be the same or that our bodies will recognise it as being similar and respond appropriately and fast. Sounds pretty good right… well if you got the flu last year, your body likely already has the antibodies that this years vaccination will give you. This leads on to my next thought, the prominent virus from last year infected a lot of people right? So a lot of people are likely to already have the necessary antibodies for that strain of the virus, which means that it is even more unlikely that the same strain of virus will be prominent this year. Meaning that if you didn’t get sick last year and you get the flu vaccine this year it is unlikely that you will have the appropriate antibodies for this year’s prominent strain. Hopefully that makes a little sense to someone.
So take my tips above add a fair amount of daylight, a dash of relaxation and positivity to beat stress; perfect recipe for a illness free winter.
Winter is dark, cold, and for a lot of people miserable but it doesn’t have to be.
Embrace your kitchen and those yummy hot steamy recipes that just seemed way too much in summer. Work on your new year’s resolutions and when the sun starts to shine in spring reveal a whole new and fresh you. Snuggle up by a fire or with a blanket or a buddy and read a book. It may seem lame but in our house one of mine and my partners favourite things to do was we would lie on our bed and I would read to him. Most of the time he would fall asleep but it is a lovely relaxing thing to do especially if you find a book you both enjoy. Winter is a great time to work on yourself, the sun setting early may seem restricting but instead of all those outdoor activities you can do things inside that work just as well. Yoga, pilates, join a gym, start a course, start a project or a hobby it is a great way to keep those dark evenings full.
So throw away those notions of winter being horrible because perspective makes a huge difference.