There's nothing worse than waking up and feeling sick. It completely throws you off—from ruining your focus at work to causing you to hibernate all week long, hiding from friends and family. But the thing is that quite a few of us aren't taking sick days, according to a new Office of National Statistics study that says sickness absence has fallen by more than 50% since 1993 in the UK. Which means more and more of us are powering through when we should be resting up.
However, in order to get better, sometimes we need rest. Be kind to yourself and make a judgment call on if you need a day or two to recover. But if you want to get back on your feet quickly, we did some research to uncover the remedies that actually work to get results fast.
Keep reading for our expert-approved antidotes.
1. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture helps reset your nervous system and nourish your body through the insertion of hair-thin needles. "When the little needles enter your body, it's considered an 'invasion' during which your entire nervous system wakes up to 'attack' the needles," says Mona Dan, a leading acupuncturist and owner of Vie Healing in Beverly Hills. "The sympathetic (exciting) and parasympathetic (relaxing) parts of your nervous system begin working at peak performance to fight against the invasion." Think of it like an inner-body workout to keep everything running smoothly. "Including Chinese herbs also gives your blood strengthening elements for your overall immunity. Healing your body through these modalities before the change of weather is essential to keep up with the seasonal changes without getting sick," notes Dan.
2. Get Outside
"If weather permits," Dan says, "allow yourself to sit outside and catch some rays. It'll boost your immunity and help your body naturally relax and fight against those little bugs."
3. Be Smart With Your Food Choices
When you feel a cold coming on, your meals do make a difference. "Food can vent the body of illness and can help boost your blood to fight colds off," Dan notes. Make sure your portions are small so your body can work on fighting germs rather than overly exerting itself to digest a large meal. Include fermented probiotics in your diet (like a shot of kombucha after each meal to help your digestion, and thus, your immunity). "Avoid cold and raw foods and beverages," instructs Dan. "That includes salads and cold water. They constrict your body's blood vessels, which leads to less fighting power. Try shots of ginger and wheatgrass, but stay away from large amounts of pressed juices for that reason."
4. Skip Your Workout
Keeping your energy levels up is paramount, and it's best to do so through eating the right foods and avoiding your usual workout regimen. "Your body is signaling that it needs rest, and exhausting yourself through intense workouts will not help," explains Dan. "Listen to what your body is saying! This is the time for nourishment. To help your energy maintain a good balance, avoid raising your stress levels, and give yourself a couple of days to recharge."
5. Stay Warm
It sounds obvious, but make sure to wear a scarf and keep your neck covered when you feel a cold coming on. "In Chinese medicine," Dan says, "the nape of the neck is where pathogens enter the body. Keep your belly and low back covered as well. Try to avoid sitting in front of cracked windows or fans, which will help you avoid fluctuations in temperature." Similarly, make sure you're fully dry and warm before leaving the house post-shower. "When washing your hair, dry it completely before falling asleep or leaving the house. That way, your temperature stays regulated and your body remains balanced. Also, if you do take a bath, include some Epsom bath salts to help detoxify."
6. Go to Sleep
"Your immune system weakens if you don't get enough sleep," explains Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network. "Feeling tired and stressed can slow down your immune system. When fighting off a cold, you need it running at its best. Getting the proper amount of sleep can help fight off bacteria and viruses because if our bodies are run-down, they are more susceptible to germs."
7. Don't Get Too Close
This is a bit overzealous, but it is important to avoid close contact as much as you can. Parikh suggests, "Try to use your own pen when signing for credit card purchases, or use alcohol-based hand wipes when leaving a store. Wipe down surfaces where viruses linger, like doorknobs, stairway bannisters, microwave or refrigerator handles, remote controls, cell phones, and even computer keyboards."
Do you take sick days if you're feeling bad or power through? Come tell us in the comments below.