What’s worse than a dark, cold and wet January? A dark, cold and wet January when you’re unwell. Most of us here at NR HQ have been hit with a case of the sniffles or worse, so we’re looking at what we can all do to cope during these lozenge-scented months.
With more than 200 different viruses known to be involved in causing the symptoms of the common cold, there is no cure, we just need to ride it out. And while symptoms are often mild, a sore throat, blocked nose, headaches and aching muscles can make you feel, well, rubbish.
So what can you do when it’s cold and wet and you have to go to work?
Staying hydrated during the winter months can be difficult, with central heating switched on high and festive celebrations in full swing, so make sure you drink enough liquid. If you struggle remembering to drink water, set reminders on your phone or keep a water bottle at your desk.
If you aren’t keen on the taste of plain water, consider adding slices of lemon or orange for flavour. Warmer fluids are soothing on a sore throat, so try a hot lemon water or green tea instead of your morning coffee. Fresh vegetable soup and broths are also great in soothing the throat and helping keep your fluids up.
Learn more about the importance of hydration.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is the chance for your body and mind to rest and repair, and it is vital in ensuring the immune system is functioning properly. Aim for seven to eight hours a night, though we know this can be hard when you’re coughing all night. Encourage relaxation by switching off screens an hour or so before bed and perhaps read a book instead.
Remember your protein
Protein is made up of amino acids and these are essential in maintaining good health, so ensure you’re having a source of protein with every meal. Beans, pulses, seeds and nuts are all good veggie options. If you’re a meat eater, opt for the lean, organic options.
If you’re unsure of your recommended protein intake and whether you’re achieving this, a nutrition professional can help you.
Increase your fruit and vegetable intake
We’re recommended five a day, though really, we should be aiming for six or seven different vegetables and two or three portions of fruit each day. Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients which help keep the colds away, as well as boosting energy levels and overall well-being.
If you’ve lost your appetite, which is common with a cold as you often lose sense of taste and smell, bananas are a great choice. Rich in potassium and a higher calorie fruit, they can help the body replenish lost electrolytes after sweating or an upset stomach.
Opt for wholemeal / wholegrain carbohydrates
Many of us when poorly crave comfort food – warming, comforting pasta dishes and lots of toast. There’s no problem with this, but when they are the ‘white’ variety, they can lead to a spike in sugar levels, which does nothing when you’re already feeling run down. Instead, opt for the wholemeal and whole grain varieties for a slower release of energy and sugar.
The most important thing to do when unwell is rest. Of course, this isn’t easy when you have to go to work, do the food shop, look after the kids etc. but try to rest as much as possible.
Listen to your body – while regular exercise is great for maintaining overall health and fitness, if you’re unwell, forcing yourself to the gym will only prolong your recovery. If you need to take a day off sick, then do so. If you’re powering through, that’s OK, but try to relax as much as possible after work, don’t push yourself.