How to Use the Flu to Your Full Advantage!
Tis the SEASON!!! The flu season brings lots of challenges… especially with that nasty thing we call the Flu or A Cold!
One of the biggest health culprits during the new year is the flu. With all of the talk about flu shots in the fall, most people don’t realize that there is a spike in flu activity in December and January and flu season goes all the way to April. Even though we’re well into flu season, it’s still important that we make sure we can actually take advantage of sickness before it takes advantage of us.
No one likes to get that annual nasty flu or cold that lasts a week or more and comes roaring back just as you think you are getting better. Not a single person I coach or train with likes to miss training, or being their best in Business…not even a single day.
But the reality is, sometimes you get that nasty bug and it takes you down. You miss a day, and another and then another, and all the while the voice of worry is ramping up in your head. You worry that it’s you, that you are just not being tough enough. You imagine at least a dozen of your colleagues who would push through the congestion, the headaches, the fatigue. You fret about missing the next run, meeting, or session because you haven’t been performing that well lately and you know you need more energy to improve. You worry that after three days, you have lost all the momentum you have gained in the last six months and that you will never again be on your “A Game” again.
Sounds over dramatic… It really does… because it is. When we are sick… we overly catastrophize life. That’s the power of state… it will magnify everything else in our world. Either for the Positive… or for the Negative.
Instead of getting depressed, anxious, frustrated, impatient, or demoralized when that nasty bug hits, consider adjusting your perspective about what is happening. Shift your thinking and intentionally try to make the most of an otherwise unpleasant situation.
Redefine what being sick means, search for the silver linings, and find ways to actually benefit from your time away from training. Here are four ways you can alter your perspective.
1.Consider Getting Sick as a Healthy Heads Up
Getting sick is a clear message that you are exceeding your body’s current ability to absorb the stress. By definition, even just from an endurance athlete perspective, you push your limits on a daily basis in order to expand your capacity; however, for a variety of reasons, you can end up overreaching.
When you overreach too much or for too long a period of time, your body’s defenses come down and your immune system cannot fight off all of the bugs. The most tenacious bugs will get through and those are the ones that will send you straight to the couch for a week wishing you had shares in a tissue company. When this happens, accept the very valuable message your body is giving you.
- Think of Being Sick as a Training/Growth Phase
Consider being sick as simply another phase of training/growth. This might sound crazy at first, but think of what might happen if you devoted the same kind of attention to getting better as you do to completing your training? Instead of worrying that you are writing off months of training by taking a week off (even though you are sick and couldn’t train if you wanted to), use the time that you are in bed or on the couch to catch up on sleep. When you feel up to it, read about the latest trends in training and nutrition.
- Rest is Good FOR You
Get extra sleep and nap often. Review your log for patterns that might have led to getting sick. Reflect on your goals for the upcoming deliverables. Take a nap. Look at your eating habits and ask yourself if they could be better, and if so how. Take another nap. Consider being sick as a chance for you to reinvigorate your training by starting fresh. Often, leading up to a long bout of the flu or a bad cold you’ll typically have experienced signs of deep fatigue, depression, lethargy, and a negative attitude towards yourself and others. Your efforts in training will likely be borderline to poor, and you’ll want to push yourself even harder, only to be frustrated by going slower. Then, you’ll come down with a bug and it will completely depress you. Don’t let it!
Think about the rest as good for your heart and the break from training as good for your soul. If you’ve been training hard, not wanting to rest, then this could well be just the break your body needs to combat the training stress. As you recover, spend some time cultivating a new appreciation for being healthy. Give yourself permission to start anew when you feel better, slowly building back into training. Let go of the pressure to immediately return to your previous energy levels.
- Consider Getting Better as an Opportunity to Problem Solve
High performance in life requires you to problem solve; to develop the ability to find a way through the tough times and to find something good in even the worst moments. When you are struggling with illness, find a way through the worst of it by applying key principles you use in your training.
Maintain a positive attitude even though you are in a less than positive situation. Practice patience because getting better takes time. Trust that your body will heal itself if you let it. Cultivate confidence in your fitness, believing that it will still be there when you are better. Build toughness by accepting what you cannot control and acting on what you can control to get better.
Here are 10 Strategies to turn Sickness into an Opportunity
Here are 10 Strategies to turn Sickness into an Opportunty:
1.Start by acknowledging how you feel.
You can’t force that sick of being sick feeling to go away by denying that it’s present. In fact, denial may only intensify the feeling. It’s normal to feel this way. Being chronically ill is hard, so start by acknowledging that it’s not easy and that it’s not surprising that sometimes you’re just plain sick of being sick.
2. Cultivate self-compassion for your illness and for that sick of being sick feeling.
Self-compassion is crucial because it keeps self-blame from sneaking in. Adding blame into the mix only makes you feel worse. You’re chronically ill and that’s a fact of your life right now. It’s not your fault, unless you want to call being born your fault! Everyone lives in a body that’s susceptible to illness and injury. No blame allowed—either for being sick or for being sick of being sick. It’s natural to get fed-up at times with ongoing pain and illness.
3. Assess your behavior.
If you’re like me, you can feel sick of being sick even though you’re taking good care of yourself. At other times, however, that unpleasant feeling can be traced to a lack of good care on your part. This happens to me. I’ll start fighting my chronic illness by pushing my energy envelop in every way: doing too much for too long a time; not getting adequate rest or sleep, etc. So, when this sick of being sick feeling arises, stop and assess whether you’re contributing to it by not taking proper care of yourself. If that’s the case, resolve to change course immediately.
4. Challenge yourself to find something pleasant going on around you.
This can take you out of exclusively focusing on this difficult emotional state. I’m fortunate to have several windows in my bedroom that give me a view of my backyard. I can almost always find something pleasant going on there, whether it’s a visiting bird or the wind through the trees. If my dog, Scout, is on the bed, I cuddle her. That’s always enjoyable.
If you can’t find something pleasant going on around you, create it. Put on a funny movie. Listen to some music. I’ve started doing jigsaw puzzles. Doing something pleasant for yourself can ease your emotional suffering until that sick of being sick feeling passes.
5. Move your body to another place.
Motion creates Emotion… And emotion has the greatest healing properties in life.. it can make a big difference. Simply moving from the bedroom to the living room gives me another view of the world and another place to sit or lie down. If you’re able, try going outside. It gets my mind out of thinking about being sick.
6. Make a list of everything that’s better about your life because you’re sick.
Initially, you may not be able to come up with anything, but keep at it. See if you can list at least five things, no matter how trivial. If you’re mostly housebound, it could be that you don’t have to put up with getting stuck in traffic. It could be a new appreciation for quiet or solitude. It could even be that you have a legitimate excuse to get out of doing things you don’t want to do. Let it be a selfish list! No one need see it but you. I guarantee it will ease the pain of feeling sick of being sick.
7. Remind yourself that it’s just a day in the life.
I wrote about this in a piece about what to do when everything is going wrong on a particular day. It can also be helpful when you’re sick of being sick. No one likes to get sick. No matter if you’re an athlete, a business owner, or just trying to make it through another day… you are lucky since your lifestyle contains the very elements that can help you shift your perspective. You can turn being sick from an awful experience to a useful experience that can augment, rather than interrupt your growth pattern. Shifting your perspective can help you through the recovery process bringing you back to getting better, stronger, and wiser.
Also, hey, let’s throw in some other practical things to help you win back your day!
8. Hydrate or Die!
Water is Your Best Friend: There are multiple ways H2o can help when you are feeling sick. To start with, you can use it to gargle. Gargling with 250 mL of warm water mixed with salt does wonders to fight off bacteria. In addition, simply drinking lots of water helps to thin-out mucus so that it is easier to get rid of. Water can be also used in a humidifier to keep the air moist, which helps mucus stay loose. And don’t forget the power of steam for decongestion! Pour boiled water into a large bowl and drape a towel over the top of your head to trap the steam. Breathe in through your nose for five to 10 minutes to aid decongestion.
9. Eat Great Foods.
Research shows that brightly colored vegetables and fruits can boost your immunity. Eating at least eight servings a day helps keep the immune system in top form, and prevents it from overreacting, which is the cause of many immune-related diseases. In addition, when sick, avoid dairy as it creates excess mucus in the body. And you can’t forget good ol’ chicken soup! The cysteine in chicken soup, an amino acid released from chicken during cooking, is chemically similar to a common bronchitis drug. Chicken soup thins mucus and eases the symptoms of a stuffed-up nose and wracking cough.
10. Wash Your Hands.
Make sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and warm water (long enough to sing a full “happy birthday” song). Make sure to do this several times a day to keep germs at bay.
If you have any strategies I didn’t cover, I hope you’ll share them and comment to let me know.