Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Everybody has a Cold: So What?

This post is inspired by the fact that several of my friends are currently in the throes of a nasty cold and keep cancelling dates on account of themselves or one of their kids being sick. At least that's the official excuse anyway...might just be the case that they don't want to see me, haha. 
I thought I'd share some tips with you on how I avoid getting a cold. Please don't get me wrong and think I claim to have super powers or to be magically immune to viruses. I'm also aware of the fact that sometimes you just can't help it because your immune system might be at rock bottom for whatever reason or you are subjected to more than one trigger at once. Least of all do I want to go all esoteric on you and tell you to avoid stress and think positive as this is not really always in your power to implement...All I'm saying is that I have developed a pretty solid routine of staying healthy despite the fact that I travel a lot and am frequently subjected to an intersting cocktail of germs.  I learned the hard way, so to speak as I cought a cold on my first trip in a series last summer and then had to endure the subsequent one on which I had to give two full-day lectures with a sore throat and cough. Not nice.

Let's call my tried and tested method the" SO WHAT Approach" that works especially well for the frequent traveller:
Supplement
Outdoors
Water
H(e)at
Avoid
Take action
Supplement: It might be worthwhile to prep yourself with a cocktail of vitamins, echinacea and the likes (think Supradyn, Berocca, etc.) before going on a trip or embarking on some stressful project. Remember that this should be a one-off, so don't pop supplements like smarties or your body will get used to them. I firmly believe in Frequent Flyer and Airbone, none of which are available in Austria and indeed many other European countries, so make sure to stock up in Australian or US drugstores when you get the chance.
Outdoors: Your Mum was right all along that you should go and play outside: enjoy fresh air and don't lock yourself inside all day in the mistaken assumption that it's better, because you're far from potential virus-epicentres. By living in your little bubble, you will send your immune system warriors to early retirement and they'll forget to fight against any intruders anway. This is very likely not scientifically proved at all, but what I like to believe in anyway. If you need another argument in favour of going outside: it's better to take a walk than take the bus or tram for 2 stops if you have the time because you kill two birds with one stone: get exercise and avoid the sick people sitting next to you on public transport...
Water: This works two ways: 1- wash your hands after travelling on public transport, having being in the company of anyone who's sick, or before eating. I like to carry hand sanitizer with me and also use it religiously if no water is available. There are several nice-smelling variations available now so there's no excuse. 2 - hot baths. If you have a bathtub at home or in your hotel room, do immerse yourself with or whithout some anti-cold bath salts whenever you feel cold or a bit under the weather. Trust me, it works wonders!
H(e)at: Keep those parts of your body warm that are likely to make you cold and uncomfortable. In my case, these are my head, throat and feet, so I always wear a hat, scarf and warm socks in winter. On fiercely airconditioned planes especially I wrap up in a warm pashmina. Again, there is a second aspect: drink tea or other hot drinks. My feelgood-infusion of choice is Twining's Ginger & Lemon tea and I always take some tea bags with me when I travel as most hotels have a kettle these days.
Avoid: Don't actively seek scenarios that you already know are not the best for your health if you can avoid them. If airconditioning or cold drinks are your week points (and yeeees, I know that it's a virus that causes you to get the common cold, but it makes you more vulnerable to catch that virus anyway), switch the AC off or ask for a drink without ice.
Take Action: If the "avoid" tactic is not possible or you end up sitting next to that constantly coughing and sniffling person on the plane and don't want to catch whatever killer virus they are happy to share, do like I do and have a drug on standby that fights off first signs. There is something by Vicks (or Wick, depending on where you live) that is aptly called "First Defence" or Erste Abwehr. I really think it works and like supplements use it sparingly whenever needed. My other miracle remedy are throat pastilles made of propolis, which I always stock up on when in Slovenia. They are definitely an acquired taste and some people I've given them to find them almost unbearably disgusting, but I really don't mind their taste and swear by them. As soon as I get that certain feeling in my throat that tells me "Oh-oh", I take one or two of them and the symptoms disappear. You might know of another natural remedy, this just happens to me my potion of choice. Whatever yours is, it only works if you have it in your pocket or handbag so you can really take whenever you need to and not at home in your medicine drawer.
I realise that most of the above falls into the "Duh. Obvious" category, but I thought I'd share with you anyway as it works for me.

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