Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor is physical fitness my area of expertise in any way. I’m just relaying here what’s worked for me.
I hate getting sick.
I mean, I hate it.
Fortunately I don’t get sick very often. It happens perhaps once every 18 – 24 months or less. I tend to not believe people who say they “never get sick”, but I suppose it’s possible.
Nothing will put a dent in your life and your plans like getting sick. If you’re sick for just a day or two and then feel fine, that’s great. I’m talking about if you get sick and feel like crap for several days in a row.
This is not an article about health techniques on how to avoid getting sick. There’s tons of resources online about that, and that’s not my area of expertise anyway. Instead, here are the specific techniques I use to both avoid getting sick when I feel a sickness coming on and to alleviate and shorten the sickness if/when it arrives.
1. Know your indicators. People tend to have the exact same symptoms when they get sick, regardless of how they get sick. Some people are stomach-problem people. Some people are headache people. If I get sick, it always starts with my throat and ends up in my nose. My point is you need to know that initial “tickle” in your body that signals you might be starting to get sick.
2. Launch into action as soon as you get an indicator. Don’t wait. If you feel like you might be getting sick, immediately come to a complete stop and address it, either with the techniques below or with your own stuff. Don’t ignore it. The best way to save time and maintain your happiness is to avoid getting sick in the first place.
3. Take the following supplements immediately then three times a day thereafter: 3000 mg of vitamin c, 15mg of Zinc (unless you already take it daily), 800 mg of Echinacea, and if you’re the homeopathic type, one dosage of Oscillococcinum. Oscillococcinum shows no evidence of “curing” a cold or flu, but it could help avoiding or offsetting a cold if one is coming on. I’m no doctor so I have no idea; take it if you want, or don’t. Take these supplements three times a day until your symptoms vanish. Ideally take them with food.
4. Immediately re-arrange your schedule so that you go to bed early and sleep in the next morning. If you have to cancel a late-night date, do it. If you have to cancel a morning appointment or call in sick or late to work, do it. I’m serious. Load up with as much sleep as you possibly can. That means you go to bed early even if you don’t feel super sleepy. I talk about how important sleep is to personal effectiveness in my free ebook here, but if you feel a cold coming on, it’s even more important.
5. Relax. Cancel and/or postpone all stressful activities for the next 24 hours. You can exercise a little if you want, but you need to chill and take it easy for the next 24 hours to stave off the sickness. This would be a great time to go get a massage or go see a funny movie. Again, if you have to re-arrange your schedule to do these things, do it. Not getting sick will be well worth it. Think about it this way: How much stuff would you have to cancel or postpone or do shoddy work on if you actually BECAME sick for a few days?
6. Fill a gallon of water in the morning and resolve to drink the entire thing by the end of the day unless you’re a shorter, smaller, or lighter person. Then drink three-fourths, or half a gallon if you’re really small. The point is, drink lots and lots of water.
7. Use a neti-pot once in the morning and once in the evening. (Actually, don’t. Not the update below). These things are awesome. I’ll be honest…they’re hard to get used to, and it’s a little disgusting while you do it (do it far away from your children and your GF/BF/spouse unless you want to hear a lot of “Ew! Gross!” type stuff), but once you’re done, you won’t believe how much easier it is to breathe. They also help while you’re sick too, assuming you have sinus problems.
UPDATE 07/07/13 – Wait a minute. Don’t use a neti pot. I’ve had a few discussions with some ENT doctors (Ear, Nose, and Throat) since writing the above and they report to me that neti pots can get fluid in the passageways between your nose and ears, which is a bad thing. This is because a neti pot requires you to tilt your head during its use. Instead, they advise, use a “nasal rinse” kit. This does the exact same thing as a neti pot except that you don’t have to tilt your head. It’s essentially a small bottle that squirts water up your nose. I’ve switched to this system and it’s much better.
That’s it! You do those seven things above and the odds of you avoiding the cold / flu / whatever go up dramatically.
Of course, this all assumes you’re a decently healthy person to begin with, and don’t live a super stressful life. But that’s another topic.