Coughs, Colds, and Congestion
With the New Year fast approaching, the big audition season--UPTA's, IOT's, SETC's, etc.--is right around the corner. And if you're like me, that also means it's the season for colds, flus, and all the sinus gunk. So I thought I'd share nine remedies and preventative measures I've collected from friends, castmates, and directors that can hopefully help you stay at the top of your auditioning game this winter!
1. WATER WATER WATER
Yeah, it's the same stuff we've been hearing over and over again. And I know I'm guilty of not getting my 64oz everyday, but it really does make a difference. Staying hydrated keeps your body functioning properly and helps flush out toxins and bugs that lend themselves to you getting sick. And if your schedule is physically demanding, try drinking water with added electrolytes. They'll help you stay alert and functioning better.
Oh my god, I love sleep. But it can be hard clocking in 8 hours a day when trying to balance work, rehearsal, performances, audition preps, and all the other responsibilities in life. Sleep is important though. Your body repairs itself from the day before and gears up for the day ahead, keeping your defensives at full strength against any virus or bugs you may encounter.
Tea is super delicious and extremely good for you if you're suffering from sinus congestion or a sore throat. Lots of people will recommend lots of different types of tea/syrup/honey/whatever combinations, but my two favorites are Throat Coat and Peppermint Tea with Honey. I love a cup of Peppermint Tea with Honey before a performance or rehearsal, and then a cup of Throat Coat afterwards. The peppermint helps open up your sinuses and make you alert while the honey soothes any irritation in your throat, and then the Throat Coat does exactly what the name says--coats your throat is a silky smooth blanket of deliciousness.
4. HONEY STICKS
Learned the value of honey sticks while I was working at the Renaissance Faire. I'd pop one of the those babies open after every show to help me make it through the grueling 13 hour fair day. Be careful not to consume too many consecutively, however, because the sugar can backfire and irritate your vocal chords and/or cause acid reflux in some people (which also can damage your throat.)
5. GARGLING STUFF
If you've been doing theatre for any length of time, you've heard of gargling salt water and its miraculous healing abilities. And it is extremely effective and I highly recommend it, but you might also try gargling apple cider vinegar. I heard of this home remedy this past summer, and, although not much better on the palate than salt water, it is just as effective. Some of my hardcore actor friends even swallow the vinegar after gargling, saying it helps balance your body's Ph levels, which in turn helps your immune system stay in tip-top shape. I was also recommended by a friend that gargling whiskey with honey was a tasty option if you can't stomach the vinegar or salt water.
6. HOT STEAMY SHOWER WITH PEPPERMINT OIL
Steam does wonders for breaking up mucus and clearing out the sinuses. I don't trust myself enough to boil a pot of water and then stick my face over it without scalding all my skin and such, so instead I opt for an extra hot shower. Recently I've been adding Peppermint Essential Oils to my shower, and it has been AWESOME. I turn the shower on super hot, and when it starts to steam up, I toss in 5-6 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil around the shower. It then rises up in the steam and helps to clear out my sinuses and wakes me up for the day.
7. RESPIRATORY ESSENTIAL OIL
My mom gave me a doTERRA essential oil kit a few months ago, and in it there is a "Respiratory Oil." It is a combination of Laurel Leaf, Cardamom, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Lemon, and Ravensara, and is fantastic. It reminds me a lot of VapoRub, but its fumes aren't quite as offensive. I like to rub the essential oil on the bottom of my feet and my chest once in the morning and right before I go to bed. You can buy essential oils online or at certain health food stores.
8. SLEEP WITH EXTRA PILLOWS
I normally sleep on my side, but when my sinuses start draining, I like to prop myself up with a second pillow and sleep on my back. Yeah, it's not as comfortable, but it helps to keep you from coughing, which in turn helps you sleep longer and not damage your vocal chords as much, which in turn helps you get better faster! Win--win--win.
9. EASY EXERCISE
No. Stop it. What happened to more sleep? I don't want to exercise!
Yeah...I know. It sucks. But the health world is right when they say exercise is good for you. Yoga is great for opening up all the different pathways in the body and keeping your muscles limber and flexible, or sometimes an easy jog is just the thing to clear out the cobwebs in your lungs. Don't be a fanatic though. When you're sick, rest. Forcing your body to workout when you don't feel well can do more harm than good.