Fall Flu Season Survival Guide

The musical chorus of coughs, tissues pulled out of boxes, and shuffling of bags of cough drops fills the air. The germ-filled fallen are looked upon with pity… at a safe distance. It’s that time of year again: flu season. Grace Tepper talks us through her five top tips on how to take care of yourself at this time of year.

I hate flu season as much as the average person loves fall. It gets me without fail every year, always on time. Despite this, I am somehow always surprised when I start hacking my lungs out, as if it has never happened before. I’ve never taken care of my cold as well as I should, leading to prolonged annual sickness. This year, however, I was determined to turn that around. When it hit me, I was unfazed and fought back with the force of a thousand DayQuil. I’m now flu free! Because no one wants to feel like a petri dish for more than a day or two, here’s exactly how I kicked my cold. Disclaimer: I’m far from a certified physician, so take my advice with a grain of salt (or a cup of tea).

Step One: A Morning Shower. Waking up in the morning with a nasty cold is the worst feeling. You can’t breathe, your head feels like it’s full of cotton balls, and the last thing you want to do is get out of bed. Taking a shower will help clear that initial fog and help you start your day on a better note. They get your blood flowing, improving circulation and reducing your stuffiness with humidity. Plus no matter how gross you feel, you’ll leave nice and clean.

Step Two: Hydrate! I am a tea-aholic. Any kind, any time, tea is my go-to. When I’m sick, I drink more tea than ever! There are so many to choose from, and (placebo or not) they all have different specifics to help you feel better. My favorites are mint tea, ginger tea, and a classic green. Mint tea wakes me up with the sharp flavor, and can also help digestion and stomach bugs. Ginger tea can do the same, but has an entirely different and energizing flavor that is to die for when I’m down. Green tea, for me, is just like water; I make it so many ways and drink it all the time, and can be great with added honey and lemon. Despite these, keep in mind that plain old water is just as necessary for sick days.

Step Three: Cut the Cough! For me, a sore throat is often one of the first signs of a bad cold and a cough is one of the last to remain. Through it all, I rely on my drugstore favorites to get me through. Throat lozenges/cough drops are a great quick fix, and temporarily help with these symptoms if you need immediate care. If it’s really bad, I’ll go for over-the-counter decongestants or cough relievers, but I’m careful to make sure I’m not overdoing it. I like to use more natural remedies first, and bring out the big guns only if necessary. For a gentler remedy, try a saltwater gargle; a little salt in warm water can work wonders.

Step Four: Consider the Extras. Lots of people swear by Vitamin C as a way to preemptively protect from symptoms or sickness. Others swear by probiotics as a way to add good bacteria to your body in order to fight the bad. Either way, find what works for you and stick with it! The best solutions are the ones personalized to you, and that will always be the case.

Step Five: Do Something for You! Even if it’s just a regular old cold, it doesn’t make your day any better. Sometimes just doing something you like will help the mind even if it doesn’t save the body. Wear something you like, go get some comfort food, have a movie night; anything to lift your mood helps.

Now that I’ve walked you through my sick day, here’s a gentle reminder: everyone is different, and this isn’t a prescribed solution to human sickness. However, if you can find at least one thing here that makes you feel a little bit better, my job is done. Now it’s my turn to go back to fixing my flu with a good rom com, some takeout, and a hot cup of tea.