A step-by-step guide to feeling normal again after sickness

Sickness, of any kind, can leave us feeling shadows of ourselves.  

Energy levels plummet, our sinuses ache, and faces tend to look either red and puffy or drained of any colour at all. 

 Let’s face it, it’s pretty gross. 

 So once the worst of it is over, we’re keen to get back to feeling normal ASAP.  

But how can we do this in the best and healthiest way possible? 

Lesley White, a pharmacist at Boots, explains: ‘Each of us is an individual and recovery from illness can be a very personalised thing. Some people will be back on their feet in no time, while others will take longer to feel back to normal after having been ill.’ 

And, of course, Lesley points out there are some things that will affect how quickly you recover, too. 

Some of these include the type of illness you had (and how severe it was), how well your immune system is functioning, and whether you’ve been vaccinated. 

Lesley adds: ‘While there is no vaccine available to protect against some common illnesses like the common cold, there are vaccines to protect against flu and Covid-19. 

‘If you have been vaccinated against these illnesses and you still catch them, your symptoms are likely to be milder and you are likely to recover faster.’ 

But if you feel you’re coming out the other side of your sickness, Lesley recommends this step-by-step guide to feeling better again as soon as possible. 

Step 1- Get plenty of rest and sleep

‘After an illness, it’s not unusual to feel tired and lethargic for a period of time,’ explains Lesley. 

So prioritising sleep – and lots of it – is essential. This might be going to bed a lot earlier or napping during the day, if your body feels like it needs it. 

Sleep, after all, is essential for giving the body time to repair itself – the key to feeling back to your ‘normal’ self again. 

Step 2 – Drink plenty of fluids to ensure you stay hydrated

Drinking water is always important – but especially so when you’re recovering from sickness. 

That’s because it’s easy to get dehydrated when you are ill, as cold and flu symptoms – like runny noses, sweating and fever – draw moisture out of your body. 

So even if you have a sore throat, try to keep your fluid levels up – whether it’s water, juice, tea or hot water with honey and lemon. 

Step 3 – Eat a healthy varied diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables

‘Loss of taste or smell may also persist following a cold, flu or Covid-19,’ explains Lesley. 

But she adds that it’s still important to load up on fruit and vegetables, as this can help give your body the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs – plus hydration. 

Step 4 – Get some fresh air and gentle exercise – but don’t over-do it

When (and if) you’re feeling up to it, getting outside for some fresh air can be a good idea. 

Light exercise, such as walking, may even help you feel better by helping to open your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion. 

Just remember not to overdo it – otherwise you may feel even worse. 

Step 5 – Be kind to yourself and listen to your body

One of the most important things to remember is to be kind to yourself and your body when you’re recovering from sickness. 

So try not to push yourself too much too fast.  

Take your time getting back to your ‘normal’ routine. Remember, everyone is completely different, so do what feels right for you and your body. 

Know when to see a doctor:

Lesley adds: ‘A cough can linger beyond the other symptoms of a cold but always see your doctor if this persists longer than three weeks to rule out any other cause.

‘See your doctor if other symptoms of illness persist beyond the time you would usually expect these to have resolved.’

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