The winter woes are upon us, and if you’re like me, you’re ready for spring to show its face sooner rather than later. I can’t say I don’t love a fresh, crisp snowfall paired with the excuse to stay inside and order takeout, but that’s just a glimpse of what wintertime looks like. The reality? Brown slush, slipping on ice on your way to the bus stop, frozen fingers, and—worst of all—the all dreaded cold and flu season.
According to Harvard University, flu season can start as early as October, but peaks between February and March. Popular Science outlines three popular theories as to why winter serves as a host for viruses and why the colder months put us at higher risk of getting sick:
- “Flu peaks in winter because people spend more time indoors, with the windows closed, breathing each other’s air”
- “The darkness (i.e. lack of Vitamin D and melatonin) and cold of winter weaken our immune systems, making us more susceptible to the virus.”
- “The flu virus thrives in the cold, dry air of winter, but suffers in the warm, humid air of summer.”
No matter what theory you stand by, I think that we can all agree that getting sick during the winter is simply the worst. Fevers, headaches, stuffy/runny/dry noses, and a hacking cough? Talk about a total buzzkill.
According to the C.D.C., there are plenty of ways to reduce your risk of contracting viral illnesses (getting vaccinated, washing your hands, disinfecting commonly-used surfaces, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands), but even if your prevention measures are airtight, there’s still a chance that you’ll fall ill during cold and flu season. If you get sick, the LAST thing you’ll want to do is trek out to the nearest drugstore to rally up a team of items to lessen the blow of your illness as it runs it’s course. The easy fix? Preparing ahead of time and having a “sick day” kit to combat all of the illness complications that make us feel like garbage.
Here are my favorite go-to items for those days when you’re feeling under the weather:
If you don't already have one, you NEED one! Cool mist humidifiers are great for adding humidity to the air to ease dry nasal passages when you're sick (and also work wonders for dry skin/lips). Bonus: with this one, you can add essential oils to help open up your sinuses. (I use eucalyptus and peppermint and always have them on-hand.)
These honey menthol cough drops are perfect for soothing all of your sore throat and cough woes. These ones are all-natural and have rave reviews on Amazon.
Because spreading germs is NOT the move this cold and flu season!
When you're feeling chilled and achey, it's helpful to know if you're febrile so that you can track your symptoms and response to medication.
I'm not going to lie, I rarely buy Kleenex. For day-to-day use, toilet paper usually does the trick (ballin' on a budget, amiright?!). However, when my nose is dry and sore from being sick, you BET I'll invest in some aloe-infused, soothing facial tissue to get the job done.
Adored by babies and hungover adults alike, this flavor of Pedialyte is BY FAR my favorite and does wonders to replace electrolytes when you're sick and dehydrated.
This tea is blended with with licorice root, slippery elm bark, chamomile, and mint and is caffeine-free to coat your throat and promote sleep.
Trips to the fridge for a refill? When you're sick, you simply don't have time for that. This 64 oz. water bottle has. your. back.
I mean, I highly recommend a Titanic-sized plush blanket for everyday use, but having one on-hand comes in clutch when you're in full-on hibernation mode.
Perfect for soothing aches and cramps, this heating pad is great because it has six heat settings, covers a good amount of surface area, and heats up quickly so it's ~*hot and ready*~ when you are.
These reusable ice packs are an instant classic and have so many uses. I love them to place on the back of my neck when I'm feeling overheated or nauseous, but they work just as well for those "won't-go-away" migraines.