How to cope when physical illness exacerbates mental illness.

Coming down with a cold or flu sucks. Am I right?

But, coming down with a cold or flu and then having your mental health flare up is almost unbearable. Not only are you now experiencing both physical and mental illness symptoms, but you may be having trouble caring for yourself due to an increase in anxiety or whatever mental illness you struggle with.

Here are some ways a cold or flu may effect mental illness symptoms and some words to say to yourself if you feel this way:

  • feeling like your body is betraying you (Your body is fighting off germs and sickness. It’s protecting you.) 
  • worries due to taking a sick day from work (Work will understand. Everyone gets sick sometimes.)
  • not knowing when you’ll be well again (Your body is doing the best it can to be well. Worrying will just use up more of its energy).
  • feeling guilt for being unproductive (You’re allowed to be sick and not fold laundry, work out, and go outside. You deserve rest.)
  • being unable to physically do the things that better your mental health: yoga, walking outside etc. (Your body needs rest. Allow your body to have that). 

Here are some things to remember to do when you’re physically ill that will hopefully also improve or alleviate mental health symptoms:

  • Sleep when you feel tired. If possible, sleep with comfort items such as a favourite soft blanket or even a furry friend.
  • Stay hydrated. Keep a big bottle beside your bed, couch or wherever you are resting so you don’t have to use energy to get water. Remember, your body needs water to heal.
  • Eat healthy foods. This can be tricky as sometimes when we’re sick it’s either hard to eat or we crave carbs and other foods that may not be nutritious. Try to eat soup that has low salt and lots of veggies in it if you can. Your body will thank you. Ultimately, just make sure you’re eating because your body needs fuel to heal.
  • Take epsom salt baths. Not only will this help detoxify your body, it will help calm your parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga, nature and meditation also activate the parasympathetic nervous relaxation response.
  • Let people take care of you. This is a big one for me. Whenever I’m struggling, physically and/or mentally, I seclude inside myself like a turtle. I don’t ask for help when I truly need it and rarely allow others around me when I’m in these states. It’s important to try and allow those who love you to help you, even if that means just brining you some water or a snack.

Additionally, here are some of my favourite healing products/practices to use when I’m sick:

Apps:

  • Binaural Beats  Literally puts me in a relaxed trance like state. I definitely recommend looking up binaural beats as a method of anxiety/stress management.

Healing Oils:

Products

  • My magic bag  is a daily saviour. Helps with anything from cramps to strained muscles to tense muscles from stress. The warmth is super comforting as well.
  • Throat Coat Tea is great when your throat hurts or is scratchy.
  • Gin Gins work well for indigestion or an upset stomach. Plus they’re super tasty.
  • Raw Honey! I eat it by the spoon when I’m sick. It literally heals my throat.

Okay folks, that’s all for now. I hope you’re all resting and staying well during this cold and flu season.

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