The peak season for catching the common cold or flu is nearly upon us. So if you are reading this when first published, you still have time to be proactive in possibly preventing either this year. Or if you are already reaching for the Kleenex, then there are still things you can do to heal quicker and reduce the odds of the next onset. The information shared within this article could save you time, money and discomfort, so it's worth investing a few minutes in reading it!
On average, up to 20% of the U.S. population - approx. 75,000,000 people (!!!) will end up suffering from a common cold or flu this year (source). With similar percentages showing up in other western countries. And although stats vary, if prone to catching these conditions, then the average adult can expect 2-4 colds or flu each year. Although there is an array of possible reasons for why people pick up these unpleasant symptoms, through my research into the mind-body connection, I've come across a number of common mind-based lifestyle causes of the common cold and flu. In this article, I share what these lesser-known causes are and offer some simple strategies for not falling victim to these uncomfortable and often inconvenient conditions.
Firstly, what's the difference between a cold and flu?
Medical research states that colds and flu are caused by viruses, with both being primarily respiratory infections. Here's a quick run down of the differing symptoms:
COMMON COLD SYMPTOMS: Runny or blocked nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, headache or body aches, low-level tiredness. Symptoms usually come on gradually and are gone within 7-10 days.
INFLUENZA (FLU) SYMPTOMS: Dry/hacking cough, moderate to high fever (not everyone with a flu will have a fever), sore throat, shaking chills, severe muscle or body aches, headache, stuffy and running nose, severe fatigue, nausea and vomiting (most common in children). Symptoms usually come on more quickly and can be severe, usually lasting between 1 to 2 weeks.
To determine which one you may have, as a general guide, take into account the speed at which the symptoms occurred (slow = cold, quick = flu), how tired you feel (low-level = cold, high-level = flu), or if you are running a fever (high temperature + shaking/chills = flu). If in doubt or concerned, consult a qualified medical practitioner.
Common mind-based lifestyle causes of colds and flu
I've been researching the mind-body-life connection for over a decade, worked with thousands of people via my coaching clinic and written books on the subject - my Body Calm and Calm Cure books include directories of the most common mind-based lifestyle causes for over 100 physical conditions. I believe our mindset, emotions and how we perceive and relate to our life circumstances combine to play a major role in how healthy we are and the kinds of physical conditions we end up experiencing.
[I am not saying there are no physical causes to physical conditions. I am recommending an integrative health strategy.]
Read through the following common mind-based lifestyle causes of the common cold and flu [they are similar but different enough to warrant tackling separately] and see if any of them resonate with you:
COMMON COLD CAUSES - Overwhelmed, overworking, fast-paced non-stop living, uncertainty, confusion, need to escape external negativity
∞∞∞ Previous to someone 'catching' the common cold, they have usually been feeling overwhelmed. There's just been way too much to do and/or they've been questioning/concerned about how they can get it all done. Colds are usually preceded by a fast-past/non-stop schedule. It's been relentless; moving from one thing to the next. And/or they have been experiencing chronic uncertainty or confusion that has remained unresolved, bringing with it underlying angst and tension. On some occasions, something they were worried about has recently been resolved (and the cold symptoms are the body healing after a period of stress). And/or they've been feeling the need to escape/get away from some kind of external environmental negativity, either from a relationship, workplace or the wider-world.
Relate to any of these? If yes then you want to resolve them now before you get a cold!
COMMON COLD SOLUTIONS - Slow down, do less and give your mind and body some well-deserved rest before taking time off is forced upon you.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, recognise that you can only do one thing at a time. Make a list and work through it at a calm and comfortable pace. Look at your list and ask 'What is absolutely necessary?'. For now, focus on doing the necessary, don't resist the length of the list or be attached to getting it all done. This should remove items from your list and free up time and space. If you've been overworking, remember that you are more effective and life is more enjoyable if you have the energy and focus that comes from regular rest. See time off as equally as important as time working. Give yourself regular guilt-free breaks throughout the day and give yourself the permission to do absolutely nothing a few times every week.
Incorporate meditation into your daily schedule: 10-20 minutes of closed-eye meditating in the morning and evening can work wonders at making life feel easier.
If the cold happened after you resolved something that had caused a period of prolonged stress i.e. a big deadline, a house move or renovation etc, then it is wise to resolve the reasons why that thing in your life caused stress. If something similar happens again in the future, you won't end up stressed and sick again.
If you are feeling uncertain or confused, then make a list of what you are certain about in your life. If you use my Body Calm meditation technique, use the 'I AM SECURE' Calm Thought with your eyes open throughout your day. If you are confused about certain things, share your confusion with a friend or trained professional (coach, therapist etc.) who can help shine light on any issue that's been playing on your mind.
And if you are encountering negativity in your external environment, whether that be your home or workplace, for example, then it's time to stop taking it on board. My Calm Cure technique is great for getting peace with external life events. If possible, also remove yourself from the situation (physically and/or energetically). If this doesn't seem possible, don't forget you always have a choice as to what you do and where you are.
[If you want extra support getting peace with challenging life events, get in touch for some one-to-one Coaching.]
Affirm during your day +/or when meditating: ' I am safe when I slow down and rest.'
INFLUENZA (FLU) CAUSES - Feeling weak and/or vulnerable, too much external negativity, running on empty, finding it hard to carry responsibilities, wanting to get away from it all, needing to justify taking time off/getting away.
∞∞∞ Previous to someone 'getting' the flu, they've usually been feeling mentally and emotionally weak or vulnerable. But instead of acknowledging it and doing something about it, they've relentlessly kept up with the day-to-day responsibilities (which they've been finding hard to carry). And/or they've been feeling there's way too much external negativity going on. They've want to get away from it all, but haven't felt they can (usually due to self-love / self-worth issues or by believing they are a victim to circumstance, with no choice). Due to feeling a victim to their 'heavy' responsibilities, they've ended up needing to resort to requiring an excuse to justify taking time off and/or getting away from the environmental negativity i.e. by getting sick.
This tendency to get sick in order to get out of doing things they don't want, usually starts at school - when they only got a day off if they were sick. It's a learnt behaviour and a successful strategy as far as the body is concerned because if they get sick, it gets rest and is able to hide away and relax for a while.
Relate to any of these? If yes then it's wise to resolve them now before you get the flu!
INFLUENZA (FLU) SOLUTIONS - Take back your power, recognise you always have a choice and that you are stronger and more capable that you may think.
Make a list of the times in your life that you have shown strength and proven you are capable of facing anything that life brings. The fact that you are reading this is proof enough that you have successfully survived EVERYTHING that's happened in your life so far. This is evidence that you are strong and capable. Breathe into that knowing now. If you've been finding it hard to carry responsibilities, then be super attentive to when you go into your head thinking about everything you believe you are responsible for. This is a mind-made story and if you engage this poor-me 'I can't do it' mentality, it will make life feel heavy and hard to deal with. But if you make it a priority to live in the present, you will see that life is only inviting you to do one thing at a time.
Similar to the common cold, you need to give yourself permission to have time off without needing the excuse of being ill. Know that you are worthy of rest and that the world won't end if you don't keep all of your plates spinning. Ultimately, it is the ego that keeps you running for your life because it believes everything will collapse if you have a day off. It won't. Be willing to share responsibilities, delegate where possible and let people know you are having some 'me' time. If they have a problem with it, it is their problem, not yours!
Affirm during your day +/or when meditating: 'I am free to take time for myself to rest and let go of extra responsibilities.'
SANDY'S PERSONAL EXPERIENCE : If I ever feel the onset of cold or flu symptoms, I first check whether any of these common mind-based lifestyle causes have been playing out in my life without me realising. (Hint: They usually have been!). I then take immediate action to rectify things. I aim to bring back more balance between work/play and doing/being. I also ensure I have a healthier relationship with whatever has been going on in my life i.e. I am calmly coexisting with the deadline, workload, expectations, responsibilities etc. (See Calm Cure book for more on how to do this). Since being proactive with this integrative strategy to prevent/heal a cold or flu, symptoms rarely last beyond a day or two (at most) and the frequency of falling ill has fallen massively. Give it a go and see for yourself the healing power of being positively proactive rather than just popping pills.
Sandy C. Newbigging is a coaching and meditation expert, award-winning speaker, bestselling Hay House author and creator of Calmology.
Sandy has meditated for thousands of hours and done thousands of hours of clinical practice using his Calmology techniques. Giving him a unique ability to help people get to the heart of their issues to 'heal the hidden cause' and experience 'peace with life' via his easy-to-use and understand teachings and techniques.
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