How to get through a busy day with a cold

You've woken up with a miserable cold, but your day is booked solid. And if you're like many of us, you can't just clear your schedule for the day. Here's how you can make it through your busy day, even with a cold.

Reach for a cold remedy. Use an over-the-counter cold remedy to help manage your cold symptoms so you can get through your day. Choose a product that won't make you drowsy.

Pack a "cold survival kit." To make a cold survival kit, fill a small bag (such as a make-up bag) with your cold remedy, some cough drops, a few travel packs of tissues, hand sanitizer, and petroleum jelly to moisturize the tender area under your nose. Put the kit in your purse or briefcase and you'll have everything you need to fight your cold symptoms on the go.

Stay hydrated. Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of fluids such as water, clear broth, or juice. Hot fluids have been shown to help people feel better when they have a cold, so try some warm lemon water or decaffeinated tea. Just avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can be dehydrating. You'll know you are well hydrated if your urine is clear or light-coloured.

Eat well. Take the time to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try a bowl of chicken soup - it really does help with a cold. Experts think it works by reducing inflammation and thinning mucous.

Take it easy on yourself. Schedule a few "mini-escapes" throughout the day. These small breaks will help your body rest and replenish itself so you'll have more energy to tackle your day.

Don't share your cold. If you need to go out for work or errands when you have a cold, do your best to protect the people around you. Avoid close contact with others and wash your hands frequently. If you have to sneeze or cough, use your elbow or a tissue, and throw the tissue out right away.

Try to get to bed early. You may not be able to clear your schedule for the day, but try to clear it for the night. Go to bed early and try a product to relieve your cold symptoms so you can get a good night's rest. This will make it easier to get through the next day.

How "mini-escapes" can help when you have a cold

Relieving stress can help you fight off your cold. But how can you fit stress relief into your busy day? Mini-escapes may be the answer.

What's a mini-escape?

A mini-escape is a short break from your everyday obligations. It gives you a chance to relax, refresh, and recharge. It could be as simple as taking a brief walk at lunch, or spending 10 minutes when you first get home to sit quietly by yourself and listen to music.

How can mini-escapes help me feel better when I have a cold?

Taking time for yourself by using mini-escapes can help relieve stress. This gives you a double benefit:

  1. Relieving stress can help you fight off the cold.
  2. Relieving stress helps you feel better in general, so it is easier to cope with the challenges of getting through a busy day with a cold.

Stress also increases your risk of catching another cold later. So using mini-escapes may mean you don't have to face the "bad cold, busy day" dilemma quite as often in the future.

How do I make mini-escapes part of my busy day?

Try to find a time, at least once a day, when you can take just 5 or 10 minutes for yourself (or longer if you can!). This is a time for you to get away from your daily obligations, relax, and do something you enjoy. Read a book, listen to music, go for a short walk, or just sit quietly and take some deep breaths. Pick a time that will be easy for you to stick to each day. This will depend on your schedule, but here are a few ideas: first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, on your coffee break, right after you get home from work, or just before bed. Make this "your time" and set up your day so that you are not interrupted during this time.

How to get a good night's rest when you have a cold

You've made it through the day with your terrible cold. Now you need a good night's rest to make tomorrow easier. Rest is one of your body's best weapons to fight a cold. While you're enjoying a good night's sleep, your body is working hard to help you recover.

Here's how to get a good night's rest:

Use a nighttime cold remedy to relieve your cold symptoms so you can get the restful sleep you need. Avoid "daytime" cough and cold products, as they can keep you awake. If you're not sure which product to choose for nighttime use, check with your pharmacist.

Try a humidifier. Moist air can help ease your cold symptoms so you can breathe (and rest) easier! A humidifier can also help relieve a cough. Aim for a humidity of at least 50%. Just be sure to refill it with clean water every day and clean the humidifier at least every 3 days so that it doesn't fill up with harmful bacteria or mould.

Take a hot bath or shower in the evening. This can open up your nasal passages to relieve congestion. Plus, it may also help relax you so it will be easier to sleep.

Have a warm, soothing drink before bed. Try decaffeinated tea or water with lemon and honey. You may also want to try a "sleep tea" such as a chamomile blend. (Avoid chamomile if you are allergic to chrysanthemums or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.) But stay away from drinks containing alcohol or caffeine, as these can interfere with your sleep (see "sleep spoilers" below).

Make your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. For a better night's rest, keep your room at a comfortable temperature (cool temperatures are best for sleeping), and avoid the distractions of light and noise.

Avoid "sleep spoilers." Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and heavy or spicy foods about 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. These substances can sabotage your sleep.

Remember to "wind down" before bed. Don't work on stressful tasks such as work or paying bills and then head straight to bed. This is a recipe for tossing and turning. Instead, take some time to do something relaxing before bed, such as reading.