Have you been sick this year with a cold or the flu? Are you now feeling like your energy is lower than normal and you’re still dragging, or do you know someone who is? It seems that this past cold and flu season has been especially strong, leaving many down for the count for weeks. My family all had mild fevers which we left untreated, helping us to get over the virus quickly. Some of our friends on the other hand, took acetaminophen in response to their fevers and unknowingly suppressed their immune systems, meaning the virus hung around longer than necessary.
Once I recovered from the virus, I was left with some dragging fatigue that lasted for a day and a half. I’ve been hearing from other people that after they recovered from the flu their fatigue lingered for a week or more. I thought I would share my top secrets to rebuilding yourself after you’ve been sick and how I was able to make a quick come-back.
In my previous blog How Getting Sick Can be a Sign of Health, I explain how fevers are our friend and how they help to stimulate and strengthen the immune system. I thought it would make sense to follow that up with my secret tips for making a full, fast recovery so you can regain your energy and quickly bounce back into life.
1. Avoid Alcohol and Sugar
Alcohol and sugar suppress your immune function. Although you may think you’re all better, your immune system is still cleaning up the bad guys in your body. The more efficiently they do this, the better you will feel and the quicker you will recover. Have you ever gotten sick, recovered and then gotten it again, or thought you were better and then a few days later you’re sick again? Well, that’s probably because your immune system didn’t get the support it needed. It’s likely you stressed it in some way. If you avoid immune suppressing foods it will greatly support your body. You will also avoid the recurrence of infection.
2. Continue to Take Immune Support
Don’t let your guard down once you think you’re over the virus. You may be feeling better and even able to return to work and school, but your immune system is still working. So honor it by continuing to stimulate your immune system with supplements like Vitamin D3, Liposomal Vitamin C (I recommend QuickSilver Scientific), Elderberry (without sugar), Probiotics and Zinc. They are all clinically proven to boost your immune function and decrease the length of your illness. They also help you rebuild your strength more quickly.
3. Get Good Sleep
Try to get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep at night and don’t stay up late. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I hear in my practice all the time about people getting sick, missing work, and when they feel they stay up late playing catch-up and run themselves down again. This leaves them prone catching the next bug going around. Even if you have to force yourself, rest a little more than usual even if you’re feeling like the sickness is over. Your immune system is still recovering, mopping up the dead bacteria and viruses, and it needs extra energy to do so.
4. Avoid Bare Exposure to the Elements
In traditional Asian Medicine it is believed that exposure to wind and cold weather can cause injury to the immune system. It opens you up to bacterial or viral invasion. After you’ve been sick is not the time to do a polar plunge! Stay warm and well covered in the cold weather and wear a scarf to keep your neck covered.
5. Stay Well Hydrated
While this may seem like simple advice you may not realize how dehydration negatively impacts every system and cell in your body. It’s an added stressor on your immune system. Ideally, your body needs clean, wild spring water in order to complete the detoxification process it just went through while being sick. Calculate the appropriate amount of water intake for your body by taking your weight in pounds, and dividing by 2. That would be the number of ounces of water you need to drink if you’re a couch potato. If you work, exercise, drink tea or coffee, then you’ll need even more.
6. Surround Yourself with Joy and Laughter
Put your feet up and watch some funny movies, take a gentle laughter yoga class or watch your favorite comedian on Netflix. Laughter has been shown to stimulate your immune system. Have you ever noticed how yucky it can feel to be around a Debbie Downer or someone with a negative attitude? Try to avoid those kinds of people as much as you can. Funny, fun people can help you quickly bounce back from your illness.
7. Hug Therapy from a Loved One
It’s true – prolonged cuddling stimulates the release of oxytocin, a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Oxytocin has been shown to boost immune function. It also indirectly supports your immune system by countering the effects of cortisol, a stress hormone, which is known to depress immune function.
8. Move Your Body
It’s a good idea to take a brisk walk or gentle exercise but stay bundled up and don’t over-do it. If you’ve been in bed sick for a week, a little movement will actually stimulate your lymphatic system and help your immune system do a better job of cleaning up the toxins and dead bad guys. If you have a rebounder (a single person trampoline), use it for 15 minutes a day.
9. Enjoy Nature & Inhale Negative Ions
Beaches, waterfalls, rushing streams, and mountains all supply us with negative ions. They have been shown to a boost in your mood via a neurotransmitter known as serotonin. This increases energy (which you need after an illness), as well as boosts healthy immune function. Nature has healing powers, so walking in nature is also bonus.
Follow these simple recommendations and bounce back from an illness like never before. Please share your experiences with me on social media – let me know how you’re feeling.
Blessings of Vibrant Health,
Kristin Grayce McGary
Health and Lifestyle Alchemist