Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning and feeling under the weather. Whether you're sniffling or experiencing flu-like symptoms, you're going to want to have necessities on hand to help you feel better faster. This is why you should build a sick day kit, so it's ready when you need it (especially if you live alone). Here's what experts recommend including in a sick day kit:
"When I'm sick, the top priorities are rest and hydration: number one is to pare down and do less to let the immune system do its work. I then make the most of drinking lots of fluids by keeping some essential dry ingredients on hand for a sick-day tea, including dried chrysanthemum flower, astragalus, elderberry and vitamin C powder. If you want to keep it simple and take these ingredients in supplement form instead, you can swap the dry ingredients for Wellness Formula," says Crystal Hoshaw, mother, writer and longtime yoga practitioner from Simple Wild Free.
Chamomile, ginger and peppermint tea also make exceptional teas for when you're feeling under the weather. Throw a splash of local honey into your mug — it works as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent.
If you wake up under the weather, you're probably going to want to get as cozy as possible at home until you feel better. Whether you reach for your favorite pajamas or your go-to lounge pants, just make sure your coziest at-home attire is within reach.
For those that have a fever, opt for lighter clothes. Anything too heavy will make it harder for your fever to come down. If you have the chills, try wearing light layers or wrapping a lightweight blanket around yourself.
"My first recommendation would be soft tissues because I always ask my boyfriend to go out and buy these whenever I wake up with a cold. I'd also recommend having electrolyte replenishers, like Pedialyte, on hand for hydration. And nothing soothes me when I'm sick quite like a warm bowl of soup does, so I keep cans of my favorite soup in my pantry at all times," says Laurie Dupnock, a chronic illness and health blogger at Better By The Beat.
Every sick day kit needs a working thermometer. It doesn't matter if you use a digital thermometer or an oral thermometer — just make sure your thermometer batteries work. To make sure you aren't caught with dead thermometer batteries, make sure your sick kit has spare batteries.
Additionally, if you really want to round out your sick day kit, pick up a pulse oximeter. Pulse oximeters estimate oxygen saturation levels in the blood. These oximeters are easy to use, just simply place them on your finger for a reading.
"I always freeze leftovers. Perfect for the days I'm not well enough to cook and means I still get a healthy, home-cooked meal!" says Natalie Gardner, the Spoonie Mummy.
Not sure what to store in your freezer for a sick day? Try making homemade soup — it stores well and the warmth of the soup can help comfort you. Other good homemade meal options include all-in-one casseroles, mac and cheese (trying adding broccoli or cauliflower to the mac) or simple stir-frys.
"We recommend having an electrolyte supplement in your kit. Things like Gatorade and Powerade are mostly sugar and don't actually have that many electrolytes, so as an alternative we always suggest Nuun hydration tablets. They taste pretty good, especially in about half as much water as recommended (just be sure to drink the other half too!)," says Spoonie Living.
If you wake up with body aches and muscle pain, hot and cold packs can help cut down your suffering. For any muscle stiffness, cramps or aches and pains, use a hot pack or a heating pad. For inflammation, swelling and pains, try a cold pack. You can pick up heating pads, warm packs or cold packs at your local pharmacy.
Additionally, if you have a fever you can also apply a cold compress to your head to help regulate your body temperature.
"Some of our favorite sick day remedies include the following natural agents. Elderberry syrup is always included due to its antiviral qualities, especially against rhinoviruses and influenza. Elderberry is known to contain an enzyme that blocks the ability of the viruses to attach to your respiratory pathway. Echinacea is also another popular herb that has immune-stimulating properties. It works by increasing the activity of your white blood cells making it antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral! This herb should be avoided in individuals who have autoimmune diseases. NAC (N-acetyl-l-cysteine) is a fantastic nutrient, because it may increase the production of glutathione (the most important antioxidant in the body). It also breaks up thick mucus, making it easier to clear," says Dr. Giovanni Nelson from Healing Duo Integrative Family Medical Practice.
It's important to regularly keep your medicine cabinet stocked with over-the-counter medications. The minute you feel a tickle in your throat, you'll be all set. Here are some of the most common things found in a medicine cabinet:
"When building a sick day kit, I recommend starting with a homeopathic approach first. A diffuser is a must with essential oils on hand, such as rosemary, eucalyptus and lavender. I also suggest a eucalyptus rub and supplements such as vitamin C and zinc," says Charlene Eckstein.
Being sick is no fun, so having a sick day kit to fall back on can really help you in your time of need. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers as to what should go into your personal sick day kit. Customize it as much or as little as you want. Whatever you do — just feel better and get lots of rest!