10 Awesome Ways to Cuddle Your Cold
When the common cold creeps up on you, your body screams out for some TLC. Try as you might, you’ll soon discover there’s no use powering through your daily routine and acting as though you’ll bounce back within an hour will only make you worse! A cold is a cold after all, and the last time we checked even the Warriors of this world get sick from time to time.
The best thing you can do when you’re feeling under the weather is STOP, and give your body what it needs to recover. When you’re all GO-GO-GO and no slow, it’s very easy to become misaligned, meaning you’re unable to pinpoint exactly what you should be doing or consuming to start feeling better.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’ve been lovingly convinced (or intuitively know) that self care is the way forward. As tempting as it can be to try to mask some of your symptoms with painkillers and continue on flight mode, deep down we all know that nature (and respect for our bodies as part of nature) often presents the best possibilities for healing.
So, with that in mind, we’ve put together the ultimate natural get-well guide for common colds! Let’s jump straight on in by confirming your symptoms first, to ensure you don’t have anything more severe…
The symptoms of a common cold
If you have one or more of the symptoms listed below, you are probably suffering from a general cold:
Sore throat and/or cough
Runny or blocked nose
Pressure in your ears and face
Loss of smell and taste
A high temperature
The good news is that you can treat this at home, and naturally too. GPs don’t provide antibiotics for colds because they don’t relieve symptoms or speed up recovery – they’re only effective against bacterial infections and colds are caused by viruses!
The bad news is that it can last one to two weeks. But, hey, remember even the Warriors of this world get sick! We consider you one of them.
The difference between cold and flu
They say when you have the flu, you know you’ve got the flu. But until you’ve actually had the flu, a really bad cold could be misconstrued. Confusing much? The truth is, there are lots of similarities between cold and flu symptoms, including the fact that they can often be treated naturally at home, using similar methods.
Nevertheless, there are differences – the main one being that flu tends to come on quickly and intensely, whereas a cold is more gradual and tolerable. With the flu, you feel exhausted and more of your body is affected – just walking to the shops and back is a struggle. When you have a cold, the symptoms are generally more localised to the head – you feel it in the nose, sinuses, throat and occasionally chest. It’s unpleasant, but you’re okay to walk to the shops or run a few minor errands if need be.
If you are concerned that what you are experiencing may be something more severe than what we’ve described above, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and seek a professional opinion… Please do head straight to the ‘When should I see a doctor or GP?’ and ‘Please call 99 if...’ sections of this article, or simply call 111 if you’re not sure what to do next.
How you can avoid catching a cold or the flu
To avoid catching a cold or the flu, it is useful to understand how you could have caught it in the first place. Germs from coughs and sneezes can live on hands and surfaces for up to 24 hours, which means simply rubbing your eyes after shaking hands with someone unwell or using a communal kettle could’ve caused you to pick it up. Although it is fairly easy to catch a cold or the flu, there are ways to protect yourself.
Washing your hands regularly with warm water for at least 30 seconds (the longer you wash and the more you lather, the more likely you are to kill bacteria) will help you to avoid catching a cold or the flu. Do this every time you go to the toilet, use a shared household item or touch a public surface (like a reception desk or door handle). The trick is to stay one step ahead of the germs, so try being mindful of when you may come into contact with them and take the necessary precautions. Carrying a mini antibacterial hand gel or spray around with you is a great way to kill germs on the go.
You may also want to look into the flu vaccine too, if you haven’t already. It is designed to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the flu and those that are most vulnerable/susceptible are eligible on the NHS.
How to minimise the chances of spreading your cold
The last thing you want to do when you’re ill is pass it onto family members, friends and work colleagues. If you’re unwell, you can minimise the chances of spreading your cold or flu by spending some recovery time alone in bed or on the sofa. The less people you come into contact with, the less likely you are to spread germs around. Whether you’re in bed or have braved it into work, the most important thing you can do is to always keep soft tissues to-hand and be sure to catch any coughs and sneezes quickly, successfully trapping any germs and disposing of them appropriately.
Don’t leave used tissues lying around, throw them straight into a closed-lid bin once you’re done with them. Keep your towels and bath water to yourself (no sharing with your partner) and open your windows to keep fresh air flowing throughout your home. Use antibacterial hand sanitiser in between regular hand washes, to save you from having to constantly travel to and from the bathroom or kitchen. It’s helpful to keep in mind that a cold can be contagious a few days before symptoms actually begin to show, so take these precautions as soon as you start feeling under the weather in any way.
Natural ways to soothe the symptoms of a common cold
As we’ve outlined above, in most cases there’s really no need to see a GP or doctor when you fall ill with a common cold or even the flu. You won’t be given antibiotics as they’ve been proven not to ease symptoms or speed up recovery – they only work against bacterial infections, whereas colds are caused by viruses. So, save yourself the trouble of booking an appointment to be told a different version of the same advice. Instead, take up our top 10 tips for soothing the symptoms of a common cold naturally and better yet, at home!
1. Give yourself a proper recovery rest
When you are fast asleep, your body cleverly produces more white blood cells compared to when you are awake. The white blood cells are your bodies best natural defence – they attack viruses and any bad bacteria that could be hindering your healing process. This is the reason that rest is the number one recommendation for colds and flu, as well as any other illness.
Interestingly, our bodies do a good job of letting us know this, as often when we fall ill our lack of energy causes us to slow down. Being able to read the messages from your body will help you to work out what it is you need to do, or start putting into your body to feel well again. The sooner we catch these messages, the less time we’ll spend suffering.
So, our top tip is to cancel your plans and climb back into bed for a proper recovery rest that’ll work wonders on your immune system, as well as improve mental clarity. Remember, experts suggest adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep every night to sustain good overall wellbeing.
2. Wrap up nice and toasty
There’s nothing like snuggling up with a hot water bottle, fresh linen and plumped up pillows – it seems instinctive to keep warm when you’re feeling under the weather, so it probably won’t come as any shock to learn that researchers are finding there’s real science behind this matter.
According to a Yale University study, when infected cells are exposed to a healthy core body temperature, the cold virus dies off more quickly and isn’t able to replicate as well. In addition to this, the NHS UK Guidelines for treating the common cold list ‘keep warm’ as the second means of ‘getting better more quickly’.
So, if you’re suffering with a sore throat, don’t hesitate to reach for the knitted snood or a silky scarf, wear socks to bed and make use of those microwaveable Lavender wheat bags! Obviously be careful not to overheat yourself, just ensure you’re feeling comfortable and cosy, with as little chills as possible. A good side tip with this one is to use a small amount of healing, essential oils on any of the items you use, for added benefit.
3. Give yourself a luxurious steam bath
A long, luxurious steam bath may be just the thing you need. With a long list of health benefits, from easing muscle pain to reducing the symptoms of various skin conditions, it should come as no surprise that a soak in the tub is one of our top self-care suggestions. Water has immense healing abilities, but in this article’s case it is steam that is the saviour. You see, steam inhalation is one of the most effective, natural ways to clear up congestion.
If you’ve got a cold, this is the perfect ritual to help with a runny nose or chesty cough. To get the most out of this experience, close your windows and turn off the extractor fan if you have one. Add 1 or two drops of essential oils. Try picking ones with strong decongestant properties, like Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree or Lavandin (most essential oils work well for this purpose, so if your stock is running low, just use a little of what you have) and give the bath a good stir/temperature test with your hand before climbing on in to relax.
Once you’re in, breathe deeply so that the magic vapour can start to directly soothe the mucous membranes that line your nose. If you’re comfortable enough, try staying in until all of the steam in the room has disappeared.
4. Drink lots of good fluids to stay well hydrated
Hydration is key to wellness and this applies on a all-year-round basis - not just when you’re unwell - as we’re sure you are already well aware. What you may not know is that failing to get the fluids that you need can weaken the body’s ability to fight of infections. Drinking enough water throughout the day is a vital act of self-care – it’s offering your body the most important resource it requires to help heal itself! Failing to hydrate when suffering from a common cold can lead to heightened and even additional symptoms such as headaches, dry mouth and exhaustion.
If you’re the type of person that forgets to drink regularly, set a reminder on your phone or leave a little note on your fridge so you’ll be constantly prompted to provide your body with the goodness it deserves.
If you’re bored of water, you can use this as an opportunity to top up on vitamin rich drinks and organic herbal teas. Natural fruit juices/smoothies are a good choice (though watch out for your sugar intake) and Elderberry and Echinacea is a fabulous rescue remedy that we recommend for nasty colds and flus, which is why you’ll find this tea combination in our General Cold Box.
Some medical research suggests that elderberry may help reduce swelling in the mucous membranes and in turn relieve congestion related to colds. Echinacea is a member of the daisy family and well known among herbalists as a natural supplement for stimulating the production of white blood cells. Together, elderberry and echinacea are a potent immune system booster. This combination is so powerful that it is often recommended as a natural remedy for weak immune systems, though you should steer clear if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease and instead seek the advice of a medical specialist on a one-to-one basis. It is also important to note that those with ragweed allergies have reported allergic reactions to echinacea, so it’s definitely not for everyone.
If elderberry and echinacea isn’t for you, another amazing combination is lemongrass and ginger. Ginger is said to promote good circulation in the body by generating warmth and has various antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties said to help fight off infections! Those with a sweet tooth might like to add a little honey or molasses with lemon to their tea, all of which are full of antioxidants, making them the ideal accompaniments for a yummy, get better beverage.
5. Fill up on vitamin rich foods
Just as drinking is important, eating is too. But you shouldn’t just eat any old thing, especially when you’re poorly. If you have a poor diet you’ll be likely to find yourself picking up colds more frequently than those that have a balanced diet. You’ll also find that you suffer more and for longer. There is a lot to be said of this. Without getting too scientific with you now, your body simply requires good nutrition all year round to function at its best and protect us from colds and the flu effectively.
Nutrient-dense, fibre-rich, wholesome foods provide our body with what it needs to respond quickly to germy invaders. With that in mind, the trick is to ensure our immune system is always on top-form, operating seamlessly and fuelled by a balanced diet containing all of the vital vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty oils it requires.
If you’re reading this thinking, “Opps. Too late. I’ve been eating crappy, processed foods for years now!!” then you should know that there’s still time to reverse the damage you’ve done and regain control of your overall health. First things first, you should speak with a specialist to determine whether or not you have a microbial imbalance. They can advise you on how to alter your lifestyle and food choices to improve your wellbeing. Next, you could consider introducing a Vitamin C or Multivitamin into your daily routine (never take more than recommended, always check the label for instructions).
There are plenty of options out there to choose from, all with different descriptions and benefits, but ultimately what you are looking for is something that will rebalance the body, nourishing it with all of the necessary nutrients. So, a combination of any of the following may be a good starting point, but of course check with your healthcare provider before you do: Vitamin A, B Vitamins and Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Beta-Carotene, Copper, Potassium and Zinc.
Vitamin C is most important when you’re ill because you body can’t produce it itself and it is vital for the proper functioning of immune cells. Our favourite brand is: VÖOST because it’s super drinkable and free from preservatives.
Helpful as they are, it should be remembered that no supplement can and absolutely should not, under any circumstance, replace a varied and balanced diet and lifestyle. It is always best to get as much goodness as possible from your food and it’s incredibly empowering to know upping your dosage of nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich foods is effective when you feel your immune system needs an extra boost.
6. Blow your nose with super soft tissues
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually far more important than you’d think. Often, people with colds don’t blow their noses as regularly as they should. Instead they swallow their mucus and end up developing a chesty cough, prolonging suffering when it needn’t be so drawn-out...
If you take to the tissues in between the moments it is at its worst, you’ll find symptoms are quicker to clear up! But due to the frequency in which you should be blowing your nose, you need to take extra care not to rub the skin raw – which is why we suggest super soft tissues and always advise avoiding toilet or kitchen paper.
Another common mistake related to runny nose symptoms is blowing too hard in a bid to ease congestion, which can actually cause a dreadful and totally unnecessary earache, as we’re sure many of you may have already discovered. The trick is to blow slowly and softly, but always regularly! This way you are not placing too much pressure on your eyes and your ears. Again, keep antibacterial hand sanitiser on you at all times, as this kind of excessive nose blowing will require you to be extra cautious not to spread any germs around.
7. Apply a warm compress to your nose and head
Ah, the warm compress. This is one of the simplest, most cost effective natural ways to relieve sinus pressure, congestion and headaches. It doesn’t need to be anything specialised, a hot damp towel or homemade heat pad is just as effective as anything you’ll find in stores or online. Just ensure the temperature and weight of the compress is correct and you’ll feel relief in no time.
The best way to enjoy a warm compress is to lay your head back, either flat on the bed or rested on the back of a chair with the compress placed across your nose and forehead. Take a couple of slow, deep breaths to see how it feels. Breathe consciously throughout, being careful to mentally note any of the changes you can feel the compress making. If you find it makes a positive difference, you’ll want to do this several times a day until your symptoms clear up altogether.
This practice doesn’t only provide relief, it also acts as a great reminder for you to take it slow while your body does its best to fight back and recover from a cold or the flu. In addition to this, it’s yet another suitable item you can add some healing, essential oils to. Refer back to #3 for our recommendations, and remember you only need a drop or two at a time. If you choose to use essential oils on your compress, do be sure to keep it out of your eyes. Many with strong decongestant properties can sting the skin and irritate the eyes.
8. Gargle salt water for a sore throat
Admittedly, it isn’t the most appealing suggestion... we are used to having far better flavours in our mouth. But nevertheless, gargling salt water is supposed to be the best thing for a sore throat. Various studies have found that gargling salt water a few times a day reduces swelling, helps to flush out bacteria and other irritants and even loosens up mucus. With that in mind, you’d be a fool not to give it a go! You need as little as half a teaspoon of salt per cup of water and there’s no limit to how many times a day you can do this, as long as you do not swallow any!
9. Suck on herbal lozenges
If a salt water gargle solution isn’t for you, then herbal throat lozenges could be a more suitable way for you to get some relief from the symptoms of a sore throat. It works by reducing dryness almost instantly. Ice cubes and sweets work in the same way – increasing saliva production and lining the throat, so if you don’t have any herbal lozenges just make do with what you have in the house! If you do choose to reach for lozenges, try picking ones that include natural healing ingredients such as anise, menthol and peppermint, like Jakemans Soothing Menthol Sweets or Allens Original Cough Lozenges.
10. Use a Himalayan salt lamp to purify your home
This may seem a little ‘out there’ to some of you, but hear us out before you jump to conclusions. The theory behind this items ability to cleanse your home is that the chunks of salt it contains produce negative ions that can protect us against airborne germs.
It is said that Himalayan salt lamps have a positively purifying effect on indoor air, which can help speed up the healing process of a sore throat and other common cold symptoms, such as a runny nose or chesty cough. The best way to work out whether or not this suggestion works for you is to get first hand experience! If all else fails, they act as a decorative natural source of light in the home, so you can’t really go wrong here!
Alternatively, you could try out a humidifier. You can get all different types, from hand-held vaporisers to cool mist evaporators for the car and everything in between. All humidifiers work on the same concept - putting moisture back into the air. Moisture in the air helps to keep your nasal passages moist, helping mucus flow faster and encouraging your runny nose to clear up faster.
Just like anything of this nature, you should use humidifiers with care. Overusing them can potentially make problems worse, so be sure to follow the instructions provided and remember that every device is different.
That rounds up our 10 awesome ways to cuddle your common cold! We really hope you’ve found some of our advice helpful. If you think there’s something in here you could use, we’d love for you to let us know by writing to us in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
When should I see a doctor or GP?
If you’ve jumped ahead to this section because you believe what you’re experiencing is something more severe than that described in the first half of this article, it is better to be safe than sorry. Likewise, if you’re returning to this article because none of the above suggestions have worked for you, you too should take the time to see a GP...
Seeking a professional opinion is recommended in the following scenarios:
If your symptoms don’t improve after three weeks
If your symptoms suddenly get much worse
If you have a weakened immune system (due to chemotherapy treatment, for example)
If your temperature is skyrocketing or you feel hot and shivery
If you have a long-term medical issue (like heart, lung or kidney disease or diabetes)
If you’re worried about your child’s symptoms
Remember, if you can’t reach your GP and aren’t sure what to do, call 111 for professional medical advice and support. You don’t have to suffer in silence. The sooner you respond to your body, the better (and quicker) a recovery you’re likely to have.
Please call 999 if…
Should you experience any of the following, don’t hesitate in calling 999 or going to your nearest A&E to be assessed:
Intense and sudden onset of chest pain
Inability to breathe
Coughing up blood
These symptoms should not be ignored. Give us (and yourself) peace of mind and get them seen to immediately!
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Sending you all the get well wishes in the world,
Samuel & Marie x
Research, Resources & Further Reading:
Psssst! Don’t leave before checking out some of these awesome articles. Some super helpful stuff here.
NHS guidelines and advice
Vitamins and Minerals - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/
How drugs and foods interact with vitamins
What to eat when you’re poorly
A guide for treating a common cold during pregnancy
Health and humidifiers - what you need to know
How to make a homemade heating pad
The science behind Himalayan salt lamps
The advice in this article is not specialised to pregnant women, babies or children. This article is aimed at regular, healthy adults suffering from a common cold. We are not responsible for the decisions you make, and this website should NOT be used as a diagnostic or treatment tool. We are simply sharing our recommendations/experiences with you, friend to friend. Always consult your conventional doctor for specific concerns. In cases of medical emergencies, visit your nearest hospital or call 999. Click here for complete disclaimer.