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    Categories: Health & WellnessOpinionWeekly Columns

Sick Day Survival: Essential Planning.

(ThySistas.comNow the weather has cooled and fall is beginning to move into winter, the constant worry of illness is beginning to descend once again. If there’s one thing you can rely on through winter, it’s the inevitability of falling ill at some point. This is the season of coughs, colds, the flu, and stomach viruses– all of which can spread through the population like wildfire.

If there is one thing even more annoying than feeling unwell, it’s the feeling of being trapped at home, often sequestered off into the bedroom so as not to increase the likelihood of passing the illness on to your family. When you’re busy and stressed, the idea of a few days relaxing in bed sounds like a dream, and you can think of few things you would rather do. However, when you have no choice but to take to your bed, all of the charm of the idea drains away. You find yourself hankering to be up and about again, doing the things that — while healthy — you’d do with a mild air of irritation. Anything becomes preferable to being trapped in one room for long hours of time.

However, there is a solution to this– preparedness. Given the likelihood of having to take to your bed at some point, why not ensure that the experience can be as pleasant as possible? Setting yourself up with a few supplies and making changes in an effort to ensure you make the most of your sick time is a great way to protect yourself from future boredom and unhappiness; here are a few ideas that you might want to consider.

#1 – Invest In Good Bedding

When you’re feeling unwell, every sensation is heightened, and your sense of touch seems to be far more developed than it usually is. As a result of this, inexpensive bedding is not going to be welcome– you’re going to feel every stray fiber, every rough patch in the fabric.

Invest in good quality bed linen that you can turn to should you find yourself falling unwell. Ideally, you’re going to want a decent cotton, as the fabric is more breathable. This is particularly important if you’re running a fever and are struggling to regulate your body temperature.

Buying good-quality cotton is not as easy as it sounds. Generally, anything over a 200 thread count is a waste of time. Thread count is not an indicator of the eventual quality of your bedding; in fact, 1000 thread count sheets, for example, are largely a marketing ploy– so you definitely don’t need to spend the extra to up your thread count. Opt for a 200 thread count and ensure it is pure cotton, containing no synthetic materials, and you won’t go far wrong.

Oddly, when running a fever, you’re more likely to feel cold than hot, as your body wants you to be even warmer so as to fight off the infection. Investing in a light, breathable blanket is a good way of supplementing your existing bedding without overheating; a soft, fluffy choice will feel particularly comforting when you’re otherwise rundown.

#2 – A Comfortable Mattress

When you chose your mattress, you likely tested it beforehand in a store. This gave you a chance to evaluate the comfort and, in all likelihood, have experienced no problems with it since. You sleep comfortably every night and are generally happy with your choice.

However, when you’re potentially in bed for days on end, you might begin to think of your mattress differently. What seems fine for eight hours per night — the vast majority of which you’re not even conscious for — might become problematic the moment that you’re in the bed, awake, for an entire day or two.

If your mattress has not been changed in the last two years, then keep the possibility of extended bed rest in mind the next time you buy. It’s always worth taking the time to read a mattress review or two before you buy, so you can get a decent idea in mind of what a mattress is like to actually live with, rather than making the purchase relying on a five-minute test in a store; user feedback is invaluable to your decision-making process. If you want to keep one eye on bed rest, then it’s best to opt for a medium support mattress; this will provide enough support to keep you comfortable, without being so soft that your body is not supported through the long hours sequestered away.

#3 – Supportive Pillows

The need for supportive pillows is always central, but we tend to think of supportive pillows as meaning “supportive pillows when you’re sleeping”. The kind of pillow support you’re likely to need if you’re confined to bed through illness is very different; you will need comfortable solidity to help you sit upright, and to provide lumbar support. As a result, you will want firmer pillows on hand that can help support the rest of your body.

It’s also worth looking at options such as V-shaped pillows, which can be positioned to ensure maximum comfort from a variety of different positions. You may associate these pillows with pregnancy, but they are incredibly versatile, and can work well when you’re experiencing an extended stay in bed.

#4 – A Lap Tray

You may think that you won’t need a lap tray during ill health, as you will just read all those books you have been meaning to find the time for and use your phone to keep in touch with the outside world.

However, one of the biggest reasons we all tend to get bored during extended stays in bed is because of the lack of options. While the idea of reading or using your phone might sound nice, after all, it becomes monotonous, and you want to do something else with your time. If you want to write, play solitaire, or switch to using a laptop, then you’re going to need a lap tray to achieve this.

Thankfully, lap trays can be found relatively inexpensively, and most fold away when not in use. You can buy and then store the tray under your bed, ready to call it into action as and when required.

#5 – Health Supplies

When you come down with a cold, the last thing you want to do is have to drag yourself around a drugstore for all of the supplies you need to get through the period of illness with as little discomfort as possible. Taking the time to assemble the relevant health supplies before you catch a bug is far preferable. While there’s no medication that can cure a cough or a cold, there are products that can help you feel better while you wait for your immune system to do its thing.

So what kind of things might you want to buy?

  • Soft tissues; the essential items for coping with coughs, colds, and the ‘flu.
  • Cough drops or syrup
  • A steam inhalation device; perhaps the most effective way of removing a build-up of mucus and letting you breathe clearly for awhile.
  • A moisturizing cream or lanolin. The feeling of a sore, reddened nose due to constant blowing and wiping of your nose is never a pleasant one, just compounding the misery that you are already experiencing. If you take the time to apply a moisturizer or a dash of lanolin to your nose after every wipe, you should be able to prevent this issue from becoming too severe.
  • Painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, which can help control a fever and any body aches and pains.
  • A thermometer, to help monitor any fever you might be experiencing.
  • Trash bags, so you can always be sure you have somewhere to dispose of tissues if your bedroom trash can threatens to overflow.

Assemble all of these items together into a specific area; a bag or box is useful to help keep things together. Then, at the first sign of illness, you can retrieve the bag, confident that it’s already stocked with everything you need, and relax safe in the knowledge of all the requisite supplies being on hand.

A note to remember: One reason it’s good to store these supplies in a separate bag is so you can be confident you have them should you fall unwell. If you store, for example, the paracetamol in your general medicine cabinet, there’s no guarantee you will still have a stockpile if you fall ill– they just fall into general usage, rather than being set aside for a specific purpose. By setting everything to one side in their own container, you can be confident you’ll always have exactly what you need on hand.

#6 – A Cheerful Playlist

When you’re ill, there are times when you’re just not fit for much besides laying down and trying to rest. One way to help yourself relax is to create a cheerful playlist full of your favorite songs, which can be deployed as and when required.

Most music streaming services allow the ability to assemble playlists for free, though you will have to pay a monthly subscription if you want to use Tidal. If you hold back a few songs from your regular-life playlist to only listen to when unwell, you can guarantee yourself at least one upside when you’re feeling low!

With the above done, you can be sure your next extended stay in bed is as pleasant as it can possibly be, and look forward to feeling better as soon as possible!

Staff Writer; Carla Poole


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