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  • Writer's pictureRita Winthrop

Surviving Cold Season 101

As some of you may have seen on my stories on Instagram in the past few weeks – cold season is among us. I often joke that my doctor tends to let out a sign of relief at our annual appointments because she always relays how I’m the perfect patient: I’m healthy, I eat well, I exercise, I don’t smoke, I use alcohol in moderation, I take all the vitamins and hydrate.

So you might be wondering what I was posting the past few weeks on Instagram about in regards to being sick. Let’s preface, that I rarely get a cold, when Frank was down and out with the full blown flu last year for nearly 10 days, I didn’t even catch a sniffle. So when travel season hit this year, and I got a little tickle in the back of my throat, I broke out all of my normal remedies to defeat it within 24-48 hours. What I didn’t know, at the time, was that this cold, would have me on and off suffering for 3 weeks and turn into a full blown upper respiratory tract infection, leaving it difficult to breath, sore abs from coughing too much (maybe that’s a win?) and feeling like a bag of trash. A doctors visit later, an inhaler, and a whole bunch of drugs later, I’m starting to feel like I’m slowly on the mend.

Me, when I'm finally not feeling sick after 3 weeks of a cold 🙏

Now, forgive me for getting slightly off track here – you might be wondering why the heck I’m telling you this story about being so, so sick, when you really want to know how not to get sick. Maybe it’s the cold meds, or being slightly lightheaded from not getting enough oxygen, but the truth is, you can only do so much to help prevent getting sick. Integrating some of these things during the winter cold months have definitely helped me stay healthier, and have also helped me get over a cold in the process. There always of course, comes a time where if you are really sick, to please remember, I’m no doctor, and to always check in with your own doctor if you feel you’re not getting better.

The herbs + minerals: zinc, elderberry, mint, echinacea and more.

Zinc, elderberry and echinacea - three supplements are ones that I keep regularly in my travel bag, and in my medicine cabinet at home. All three of them have unbelievable immune boosting properties that can help keep colds at bay. You can find them in all types of forms: pills, gummies, syrups, teas, and more. I personally like elderberry the best as I loveeee the taste of it – so I’m ok with popping a gummy or chew of these every day. In terms of frequency, I take one every day while I travel and while my schedule is not ‘normal,’ or I’ll take them when I start to feel a little under the weather.

These Garden of Life Elderberry gummies are my favorite. Almost like a candy!

I love this Gypsy Cold Tea from Traditional Medicines - its got all the good stuff in there to help you feel better. Its warming, with a little spice, and packed with a elderflower, peppermint, ginger, and a whole bunch of medicinal herbs.

Generally - mint and ginger tea are always great as well. I personally love the Yogi brand of each, with a little bit of honey, and they'll have you feeling better in no time. They also make a Throat Comfort one that has many of these herbs as well as Wild Cherry which is also known to help with illness...

Wild Cherry

Ever wonder why most of the time there are cherry flavored cough drops? Its not a coincidence. Wild cherry is known for its healing properties, particularly with colds and coughs. Always a staple in my house are the Sweet Cherry Ricola cough drops, which are prefect for helping that sore throat.

Vitamin C

Of course, I’m sure your mom always used to tell you to drink your OJ growing up especially during cold season – all those citrus fruits and pumped up with vitamin c, which is huge for helping when you’re sick. While juice is great, I really love getting vitamin c or EmergenC packets and loading up on those. It’s just a quick little shot that I’ll do twice a day to make sure I’m filling up on good vitamins.

Honey, Manuka Honey

I’m not kidding when I say I (or Mary Poppins!) take spoonfuls of honey when I’m feeling sick. The antibacterial and healing properties in honey are literally magical. I put it in my tea, I take spoons of it, I buy cough drops with it, you name it. While I personally don’t want to spend the money on a jar of Manuka honey, when feeling, sick, I do love spending a little extra on the Wedderspoon cough drops (I like the ginger ones best) – they are made with Manuka honey and things like ginger, lemon or eucalyptus, all things that are super healing when you’re sick.


This one kind of goes along with drinking juice – hydration is key. Especially if you feel a fever coming on. Your body is working in overdrive and needs to replenish. Odds are good you’re dehydrated anyway, and then add in being sick and you’re extra dehydrated. Drink a ton of water, juice, tea, etc. I personally hate water when I’m sick – it just tastes weird, doesn’t it? And so while I typically don’t drink things like Vitamin Water or Gatorade, it’s during the times that I’m sick that I’ll buy a few bottles and chug them. It’ll help with getting those electrolytes in especially if you’re feeling under the weather.


I know what you’re thinking – hippie dippie wellness Rita probably steams over the stove a bunch of herbs and hot water and creates this spa like experience in her brand new bathroom – well, you thought wrong. Aside from taking an extra steamy shower myself, I literally will take a seat in the bathroom while Frank showers too, just to get some extra steam. If I am feeling extra fancy (and remember to do so), I’ll cut some clippings from our eucalyptus tree (or essential oil works great too!) and hang it in the shower.

Rest - seriously

I know this one sounds dumb, but honestly, it’s the best thing that you need. This is the one that I’m usually the worst at. Even during a sick day at home I’m trying to fold the laundry, cook dinner, clean the toilets, and vacuum, and then before I know it I’m winded from cleaning. When I start feeling sick, or am already in a cold, the best thing that Frank does is yell at me a little to just lie down. Naps, going to bed early, sleeping in – its all good. Your body needs the time to replenish and heal, so as hard as it is to take time off or to take a nap, just do it.

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