This year’s flu season is upon us, with the CDC calling it a flu epidemic. What I have noticed with this strain of flu is the number of ‘low risk’ people who are getting very sick and being hospitalized with it. The flu is progressing to pneumonia and system-wide infection, sepsis, requiring hospitalization. This has me thinking. Even with the flu vaccine, which the CDC reports is roughly 30% effective (this is a discussion for another time though), such large numbers of cases are being reported across the United States and there must be a common factor.
In our society, the cultural norm is to push through it, to keep moving at our normal pace regardless of what else is going on. Taking time off, from work, from life, from play to let your body heal is hard and even frowned upon, after all, we should just pop some pills and tough it out. This does more harm than we might realize. Taking the time to listen to your body and provide what it needs to heal is, in the long run, the wise choice. I get that many times it’s inconvenient to take time off, and I am as guilty as anyone in trudging through sometimes, but what is the real payoff? By pushing through we most certainly prolong the illness and often spread it to others. There is also an increased likelihood of reoccurrence or coming down with something else. So what is the solution?
Learn to listen.
Stop and pause.
Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself.
What I mean is stop and pause to listen to your body. Tune in to the subtle messages that your body is sending. If you’re coming down with a cold you likely had some forewarning that it was coming, things like a mild headache, some nasal congestion, a scratchy throat, or feeling tired. Instead of ignoring these signals heed them. Get to bed a little earlier, drink some extra fluids, or have some hot tea with honey, whatever your body needs. Over time you will find that you notice signals that are subtler perhaps a craving for orange juice, feeling easily distracted, or strong desire to stay in and rest. Each of us is paradoxically the same and different, so while we all have these messages from our body what they are and what they mean are unique to you. It takes attention but like any skill, this gets easier with time.
Then be kind enough to yourself to respond to what your body needs be it extra sleep, rest, fluids, or specific foods. The sooner you listen and respond the sooner you’ll be back to full capacity.
One of the things I have noticed over time is that I when small things annoy me and I have far less patience than my norm that’s a sure sign I’m coming down with something. What do you notice when you’re coming down with something? Share your experience below.