Self Care Essentials for Staying Healthy This Flu Season

“I was so very sick that laying on my back in bed was the only thing I could do. Every single thing on my list, every to do, every meeting got canceled.”

Talk about my worst nightmare! A few weeks ago, I listened to a woman share this testimony of healing on her podcast, talking about how she almost died from the flu this year. In this podcast “The Feel Good Effect,” host Robyn Downs talks about how we often emphasize self care during the good season, when we’re our healthiest and best. It’s even more crucial to practice self care when we’re in survival mode, whether its from stress at work or an illness or taking care of sick loved one. It’s these times that we give up on taking care of ourselves, but that’s when we need self care the most. I highly recommend listening to Robyn’s full story and self care tips in “The Feel Good Effect” podcast episode 33, “How to Nourish Your Soul Even in Survival Mode.”

If you haven’t already heard it on the news, the flu this year is no joke. I know so many church friends, coworkers and classmates who were healthy one day and sick the next. It’s really taking a toll on the country, from schools to homes to offices. I’m not trying to scare you or make you afraid of getting sick. As a Christian, I don’t fear illness, because I have confidence in a healing God. In Psalm 91, David speaks to God’s protective power. Here’s one of my favorite verses of the chapter:

‘Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.’
— Psalms 91:1-4

When you’re sick, you can rest assured in the shadow of God. Rest meaning you can let go of your to do list, responsibilities and plans and rest assured knowing that God’s going to keep the world spinning. You can run to him in your time of trouble. Note, the verse says he will protect your from deadly disease, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get sick. That means he will protect you in the midst of sickness. He will shelter you from the shadow of death. So you don’t have to be afraid of being sick because you have an almighty powerful God on your side. He created you himself. He knows every fiber of your being. You can trust him to heal you.

I’m an example of God’s healing. The last time I was seriously sick, I almost had to go to the hospital. One day I woke up with nausea and dizziness out of the blue. Sitting up or walking only made it worse. All I could do was lie on my back in uncontrollable pain. After a few hours, a headache creeped up, progressively got worse and lasted for hours. In my case, this wasn’t a migraine. I have a chronic condition in which prolonged headaches indicate a life-threatening problem. Knowing the medical chaos that could be coming, I did two things: I asked my best friend to take me to the emergency room, and I started praying. God please take this pain away from me. God please help. After praying for over an hour in desperation, as soon as I got out of bed to leave for the emergency room, my headache went away.  After sleeping in bed and drinking Gatorade the rest of the afternoon, I felt better the next day. By the grace of God! This medical scare made me realize being sick is not the end of the world, it's humbling. My sudden illness prompted me recognize my weakness in my flesh and turn towards to strength of God. 

So being sick is not the end of the world. It’s a humbling experience. It’s an opportunity to encounter God as he demonstrates his healing power.

In her podcast episode, Robyn also talks about how being sick is a humbling experience. When you’re sick you have no control over your body or your schedule or your plans. All of that goes out the window and suddenly you have to focus on yourself, giving your body rest so it can heal and come back stronger.

I want you to be aware of the potential you could sick this season, especially as allergy season is fast approaching. Now is not the time to be careless. Like Robyn says in her podcast, this time of survival mode is a time for self care. A key part of dealing with this flu season is understanding how to take care of yourself before, during and after sickness. Today, I’m sharing five self care tips that can help you stay healthy during flu season and three tips for recovering after sickness.

5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Flu Season

  1. Sanitize everything you forget to clean (light switches, door knobs, phone, couches). When both of my roommates got colds, I bought a can of Lysol and gloves, and sprayed down our apartment when they weren’t home.
  2. Eat vitamin C either in supplement form or with foods. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and antioxidant for your bones, muscles and blood vessels. Taking vitamins is a way for you to nourish your body during busy seasons when you can’t eat as healthy as you should. Foods high in Vitamin C include oranges, potatoes, and broccoli. I love to make a green smoothie with spinach, pineapple (Vitamin C), potassium-rich banana, anti-inflammatory turmeric, cinnamon and water. (Pro tip: the citrus is the key to making any green smoothie taste good)
  3. Prioritize sleep. I learned this the hard way; after two weeks without a good night’s sleep. My body felt run down that I was in physical pain. I felt emotionally, socially and spiritually drained. I couldn’t focus on my work, and I felt myself starting to get sick. So I did something I never do. I took a nap. And then … wait for it … I went to bed early!  By taking a Sunday to prioritize rest, I was able to walk into Monday with revitalized spirit and energy to take on another busy week.
  4. Wash your clothes and sanitize your washer & dryer. This is TMI, but one gram of a sick person’s fecal matter can infect your washing machine, and the germs can live in there for days. If one person in your house is sick and everyone washes their clothes, then everyone can get sick. To prevent this, sanitize your washer running a hot cycle with a cap full of bleach or baking soda and vinegar.
  5. Take cold medicine before you get sick. As soon I did this on Sunday when I started to get a sore throat. Two days later and I hardly feel sick.

3 Tips for Recovery & Prevention after Sickness

  • Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head
  • Wash your sheets, blankets and pillowcases
  • Limit sources of stress. When you’re stressed, your body is putting energy into addressing those hormones, instead of fighting of disease. Your compromised immune system leaves you open to get sick again. So as you transition from sickness, ease back into the swing of things, and reload your to do list gradually.

How do you stay healthy during flu season? Share your tips in the comments below. Stay healthy, my friends!

Banner photo by David Mao on Unsplash