9 tried-and-tested ways to help yourself feel better when you’re fighting a cold

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Lauren Geall
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Feeling a bit under the weather? These tried-and-tested tips will help you to make the process of fighting a cold or flu a little easier.

With the cold weather making staying warm becoming increasingly tricky and regular commuting back on the cards for many of us, it’s no surprise to see the common cold wreaking havoc once again.

Whether you’ve been nursing a runny nose or dealing with the so-called ‘super cold’, it’s safe to say many of us are feeling a bit rough right now – after a year and a half of social distancing and mask wearing, our immune systems are certainly getting a workout.

But despite how frustrating feeling ill can be, there are some small steps you can take to make yourself feel a little better in the meantime – and that’s where this article comes in. 

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To give you the tools you need to get through the chaos of cold season, we’ve put together this list of the best ways to make yourself feel better while fighting a cold. They may not get rid of your cold altogether, but they might just help you feel a little less rubbish.

NB: if you have any of the three main coronavirus symptoms (high temperature, new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) you should get a PCR test as soon as possible

  • Drink lots of water

    A glass of water
    Staying hydrated is key when you're feeling under the weather.

    If you don’t already drink lots of water, now’s the time to get on it. Not only is drinking lots of water great if you’ve got a fever (it helps to replace the water you lose through sweat), but good hydration is said to help ease congestion.  

  • Make honey and lemon

    A cup of lemon tea with a spoonful of honey next to it
    Honey is a powerful ingredient with plenty of benefits.

    Honey and lemon is one of those classic cold remedies – and for good reason. Adding a splash of lemon juice to your drinks is said to help ease congestion, and honey is bursting with incredible qualities; a study from the University of Oxford showed that it is more effective at beating respiratory tract infections than commonly prescribed medicines.

    Indeed, as Dr Claudia Pastides, GP for Babylon Healthcare, previously told Stylist, honey is full of compounds known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral effects, which help to relieve inflammation in the throat and upper airways. 

  • Have a hot bath (or shower)

    A woman's feet in the bath
    The steam from a hot bath can do wonders for your congestion.

    If your cold has left you feeling stiff and achey, taking a nice long dip in a hot bath could do just the trick. 

    The steam from a hot bath (or shower) can help to loosen mucus, and adding an essential oil like tea tree or peppermint to the water can help to soothe your nasal passages.

  • Invest in some good tissues

    A blue box of tissues against a blue background
    Ditch the loo roll and opt for some soft, soothing tissues.

    Using good tissues may not alleviate any of your symptoms, but it will make the process of dealing with them feel that little bit nicer. Go on, you deserve it. 

  • Grab a hot water bottle

    A pink hot water bottle against a blue background
    A hot water bottle is a free and easy way to relieve muscle ache.

    In a similar way that a hot bath or shower can help with muscle cramps or aches, a hot water bottle can help to relax muscles. It’s also a good way to stay warm – something scientists have found helps to boost your body’s immune response

  • Drink hot liquids

    A hot drink with steam rising from the top
    Hot liquids can provide relief from cold and flu symptoms.

    You’re not imagining it: drinking a hot cup of tea or squash can help you to feel better when you’re fighting a cold. In fact, a study from Cardiff University previously found that a hot drink of fruit cordial can provide “immediate and sustained relief” from cold symptoms such as a runny nose, cough or sore throat. 

  • Sleep, sleep, sleep

    A woman asleep in bed
    Getting a good night's sleep allows your body to rest and recuperate.

    It may seem simple, but getting lots of sleep is one of the best things you can do when you’re fighting a cold. 

    Not only will getting a good night’s sleep boost your mental health and help you to feel more awake in general, but sleep is critical for regulating your immune system and facilitating the release of T-cells – the white blood cells that help to fend off infection. 

  • Lay a damp facecloth on your forehead

    A facecloth
    Placing a damp facecloth on your forehead is a simple but effective way to cool yourself down.

    If you’re feeling particularly feverish, using a damp facecloth as a cold compress is an easy way to cool yourself down. It can help you to feel more refreshed and slightly less grotty even if you haven’t got a fever, too. 

  • Chat to a friend

    A woman texting a friend in bed
    Texting a friend can distract you from how you're feeling.

    Outside of the realms of physical health, having a cold can make you feel a bit rubbish mentally, too – especially if you have to miss out on seeing friends and family as a result. 

    To counteract this, reach out to a friend or family member if you’re feeling up to it. Not only will it help you to cheer you up, but it’s also a great way to distract yourself from your symptoms. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.