Wine is one of those professions that relies heavily on the senses, a lot like some artists and the developers of food scents and perfumes.
Which means that the common cold or flu — whether we’re recovering from it, suffering through it, or anxious about contracting it — presents an acute and pervasive problem during the winter season. If any of us in a “sense profession” catches a cold, we’re facing lost hours of productivity and a physical inability to do our work.
This is a unique spin on productivity in general. In a study about the impact of the common cold on productivity, researchers at the National Insitute of Health found that 52 percent of people said that having a cold impacted their daily life “a fair amount to a lot,” while productivity decreased by 25 percent, and 45 percent of study participants reported one to two days of absenteeism during a cold.
For wine people specifically who can’t smell, we’re MIA for many of the tasks that define our day-to-day roles. This happened to me last week. Between a hyper-quick cross-country trip, abbreviated nights of sleep, and irregular mealtimes and nutrition, my typically strong immunity levels were compromised. I was caught in the snare of the common cold. Even worse, I’d been invited to judge a wine competition that started in less than a week.
I needed the congestion gone, and my nose back in working order, very quickly. Here are the four steps I took to make that happen. They seem gentle, and they are. But they’re also the most effective way I’ve yet experienced, to quickly overcome a cold and get back on my feet.
1. Drink hot water frequently.
The goal here is two-fold: to stay hydrated and also to calm down the disarray that your immune system is currently experiencing. Warmth does that, so that your insides feel the same kind of comfort that a bare shoulder feels when you tuck it under a warm blanket or quilt.
Sipping hot water frequently has the additional benefit of slowing you down at a time when your body needs to rest: you simply can’t take it in while rushing from one place to another. See tip number four, below, for more on this point.
2. Apply sesame oil to your skin.
The inside of your body needs to stay hydrated, but don’t forget that your skin is a critical organ associated with your endocrine system too. Take steps to keep it hydrated also, and in good working order to expedite your body’s recovery.
One of the most soothing ways to do that, I’ve found, is to massage sesame oil into the most sensitive and chapped areas of skin which, in the case of a cold, probably means your nose and hands because of all the blowing and washing and de-sanitizing. As often as needed, and especially before bed, massage oil into the bridge and tip of your nose, as well as under your nose and into your hands. A bonus: massage oil into your feet and slip socks on top for an overnight hydration treatment.
Why sesame oil? It’s warming and rich, and also easily available at any grocery store.
3. Drink ginger tea.
It sounds old school, right? Maybe, but the old-timers were onto something. Recovering from a cold or the flu means reducing the congestion that’s built up in your sinuses and chest; the heat of ginger will help with that, along with other warming spices like cinnamon or turmeric. Imagine “thinning out” the congestion, and you’ll see why recommendations like chicken broth and ginger tea (as opposed to ice cream or yogurt) has persevered colloquially all this time.
4. Rest. No, really. Rest.
This does not mean “powering through.” This does not mean notching another war story about how you won a sale despite your 102 degree fever.
Rest means rest. Stay home. Lie in bed, without your laptop or other screens. Close your eyes. Give your body a chance to heal. Your physical body wants to move through this phase of being unwell just as much as your intellect does, and the most effective way to do that is to give it time. The time you spend resting now, all at once, will get you back on your feet quicker than if you spread out your recovery a little at a time.