Sophie here, a resident of Planet Bleurgh. I hate colds with a fiery passion, and I swear that with every one, I get worse at handling it. This latest incarnation has been some kind of sinus hell where people secretly poured cement into my face in the night – horrible!
By this point, I get inconsolable when I feel that tell-tale scratchy feeling behind my nose and throat. I start roaming my flat looking for things that might work. I bulk buy cold and flu remedies. I sit with my head in my hands asking why this is happening to me as my man strokes my hair and prepares for his most extreme nursing shift yet.
If you are blowing your nose every five minutes, coughing so hard you think you might bring up a lung, and just feeling generally gross in the respiratory department, I have put together a list of 30 things that I think make you feel better when you have a cold. These cold remedies are unlikely to cure a cold in one day, but they will improve your cold symptoms and make you feel happier – some of them might even shorten the length of your cold by a day or so, which is great news! A mix of home remedies for colds and flu, fun activities for when you’re stuck in bed and other things to do to that never fail to cheer me up when I’m unwell.
Ways to prepare for being unwell
- When you feel it coming on, don’t hesitate to get supplies – you won’t feel like getting to the shop when you are fully in the grips of it, so if you even suspect a cold coming on, get to the shop as soon as you can.
- Unless you’ve literally just done this, go change your sheets. By day three of a cold, you feel so, so gross, and in no mood to be doing battle with a duvet, meaning you’re likely to put it off and that will just make you feel worse.
- While you’re doing that, find some clean comfy clothes for as long as you think you’re going to be under the weather. Feel free to wear PJs for the entire time, of course, but being in clean ones every day will make you feel so much better.
- Give the bathtub, if you have one, a wipe down so that it’s all ready for you if you need it.
- I operate what can only be described as a two bucket system when I have a cold – it makes me feel a bit better if there aren’t tissues all over the place and if I have everything I need if I want to move to a different location, e.g. the endless rotation of bed > sofa > bed. I keep one bucket/plastic bag next to me for anything that needs binned, e.g. empty pill packets, mountains of tissues. The other bucket/basket has all of my supplies.
- Speaking of supplies, this is my list of essentials that goes in that basket:
- Toilet roll – I know a lot of people prefer to have tissue boxes, but I just think it’s cheaper and easier to use loo roll, sorry!
- Vicks Inhaler Nasal Stick – the moment of relief it provides to stuffy noses is glorious.
- Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer Moisturiser – I like to have my favourite moisturiser next to me at all times because my skin around my mouth and nose get so, so dry and irritated when I’m blowing my nose every 5 minutes; this provides some much needed soothing.
- A tin of aloe vera Vaseline.
- Covonia Chesty Cough Mixture and a spoon.
- Sudafed Blocked Nose Capsules.
- Painkillers – I can’t take ibuprofen as it has given me stomach problems, so I use paracetamol or forego the Sudafed and take an all in one like this Beecham’s one.
- Phone charger.
- Bottle of water.
- Pen and pad of paper.
- If you live alone, let someone know you’re not well. I know this sounds ominous, but it’s just nice for someone else to know in case they want to check on you, or on the total off chance in case you take a turn for the worse and need some help.
- Mentally commit to being sick. This might sound odd, but the amount of times I’ve battled on going “I’m not sick, to hell with this!” and it’s actually made it so much worse, it’s better to just embrace it as early as possible and do all you can to help it on its way.
- Mentally commit to kicking its ass. This needs to be treated like a military operation. Be your own matron or get someone in your household to be that for you. Take your medicine exactly when you need to, drink as much water as you should do and eat nourishing meals. You need to be organised for this, organised, aggressive and relentlessly positive.
- Get drinking some water, stat! One of the most important things to do to speed a cold along is to flush it out with lots of fluids. The moment you feel one coming on, get yourself as hydrated as possible and it really won’t be as bad.
Things to eat and drink to fight your cold
- Hot lemon drink with honey, and ginger if you like it and have any.
- My grandmother is a big advocate of whisky – use with caution.
- The spiciest food you can handle.
- No unnatural sugars, meaning it’s a good idea to lay off the chocolate – as much as it may be comforting, because the bugs love it way more than your immune system does.
- Water, water, water, water, water – just stay hydrated. Alongside your nice hot lemon drinks and any tea you might be drinking, you’ve got to tank down the water as much as you can.
- Blueberries and tangerines for their anti-oxidants and high vitamin C content.
- Peanut butter and apple sandwiches – for a sick bed snack, I like to slice up an apple into discs and spread peanut butter in between. It’s such a great snack, high energy and the vitamin E from the peanuts might help ease your symptoms.
- I’m not a huge fan of chicken soup, but I know it’s really good for colds. Alternative soups that I’m much more keen on are scotch broth or tomato and balsamic.
- Salmon – whether it comes in the form of a smoked salmon bagel, grilled salmon fillets, or anything in between, salmon is great news for getting better. It reduces inflammation AND it is a good source of Vitamin D, which your immune system needs to function.
- Avocados – I don’t need to have a reason to consume as much avocado toast as I can in my life, but when you have a cold, you get one anyway! Avocados have pretty similar health effects to salmon in that their healthy fats help to reduce inflammation in the body, which you have by the bucket load when you’re fighting infection.
Things to do when you’re not feeling well
- Have the longest bath ever.
- A lot of people say that you should do things like paint your nails – if this makes you feel happy, then go for it!
- On the other hand, I sometimes find that just allowing myself to be as, in all honesty, disgusting as possible, also works. If I just can’t wash my hair right now, that’s okay. Obviously bathing, teeth brushing, all the necessities still occur, but the point is not to worry too much about how you look right now because that’s just too much unnecessary pressure when you have more liquid coming out of your nose than you thought one human could produce.
- Take as many naps as you can handle – I like to think of it as turning a computer off and on again, and if it’s still not better by the time I wake up, then it clearly needs done a couple more times.
- If you start to feel even slightly warm, get a cold compress and hold to your forehead or the back of your neck. Keeping cool and breaking any fever you might be developing is really important and so comforting.
- Moisturise all over. Even though you’re hydrating (I hope) like you’ve never hydrated before, it’s likely you’ll still feel pretty dried out and a little gross in general. Slathering yourself in lovely moisturiser is one of the cheapest luxuries ever and when you wake up from one of your many naps, you will feel ever so slightly better.
- Open a window. With this latest bout, the first time I slept properly in days was under my duvet on the sofa with a lovely breeze drifting over me, gently cooling me down and caressing my face as I finally drifted off for a few hours.
- Ask someone to read you a story, or listen to Tom Hiddleston read The Red Necklace on YouTube if no-one is available to soothe you. His voice is probably better anyway so you don’t even need them!
- Only watch things that make you smile – nothing scary or sad, not when we’re fighting off the bugs!
- Download as many free mobile games as possible and work your way through them – this is one of the few times that you don’t have to feel guilty for this, so go forth and tap!
I hope this list helps you as we’re into the chilly autumn season and beyond! What are your favourite cold remedies? What do you do that always cheers you up? I would love to know 🙂