The Power of Convalescing

flu guilt is optional immune system works better rest sick and healing stress Oct 08, 2020

Earlier this week, I wasn't feeling very well. My weekend was packed with activities, and I had a little too much sugar. I swear this is the most dangerous time of year for me with all the seasonal goodies! 

Although I have tons of great techniques to feel better, I was still feeling a little guilty. I knew I wasn't going to be able to do all the things I wanted to get done this week

 However, guilt is optional (I swear that's one of my favorite phrases!) and once I remembered this, I let it go and relaxed. So, I watched a lot of TV while laying on the couch with my dogs and napped in-between clients. I was able to rest and take care of myself while still serving others. 

 My nutrition professor in medical school used to stress the importance of taking time to rest when you're sick. She could never understand why people went to work and "spewed their germs everywhere." She used to say "Your immune system works better when you're lying down. Go home and rest!"

I used to have a problem resting without feeling guilty. When I recommend more rest and relaxation to my clients, so many of them mention they can't relax because of guilt. They feel like they should be more productive and that resting is a waste of time. To me, this is just one symptom of the modern disease of being busy. So, I wanted to talk about the power of convalescing when you're sick and how you benefit. 

Convalesce: To recover one's health and strength over a period of time after an illness or operation.

 In the late 19th to early 20th Century, there were health resorts called Sanitoriums for rest and recovery. Note: This is different from a Sanitarium which is a facility where mental illness was treated. In Sanitoriums, residents were encouraged to sleep, eat well, exercise lightly, sit in the fresh air, and get plenty of sunshine while undergoing alternative health treatments. Although Sanitoriums have fallen out of fashion, we can still take some of those principals and modernize it for a successful recovery. Here's my list of gentle recovery tips: 

 1) Rest!

Remember the wise words of my nutrition professor? Your immune system works better when you're lying down. Your nervous system is divided into 2 parts: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. Your Sympathetic nervous system is your fight or flight driver. If you're feeling stressed or threatened, then it becomes activated. Your Parasympathetic controls activities such as sleep, digestion, salivation, and urinary/bowel elimination. Your body isn't concerned with something like digestion if you were being chased by a tiger. Lots of stress can suppress the activity of the Parasympathetic system. Your body heals faster when it's in a relaxed state. 

 2) Eat lightly

After you eat, your body needs to expend a certain amount of energy and attention to digest your food. When you're sick and healing, your body will have to divert its resources AWAY from fighting an infection toward digestion. In order to combat this and keep your body in healing mode, either fast (no food but water only) or eat whole foods that are easy to digest such as soups or broths. There's a reason why chicken soup is recommended when you're sick! Whatever route you choose, make sure you're staying hydrated. 

3) Eliminate sugar

I can't tell you how many times I get sick and suddenly start craving sweets. Ironically, eating too much sugar also makes me feel like I'm getting sick (as was the case this week). Sugar is inflammatory to the body and also acts as an immune suppressant. Eating just 1 teaspoon of sugar (about 5g) is enough to suppress the immune system for 2-4 hours. If you take a close look at the sugar content in foods and beverages, then you'll realize you could be getting several teaspoons per day eating a diet filled with processed foods. When you're feeling fatigued or sick, then skip the sugar to give your body a chance to heal. 

 4) Skip the exercise...….temporarily

I can imagine this is probably the most controversial suggestion on my list.  I can hear the hard-core exercisers screaming now! Just hear me out, and I promise that it'll make sense. Exercise (as wonderful and necessary as it may be) is considered stressful to the body. In recovery, you're trying to AVOID stress.....even positive stress like exercise. The point of a convalescence is to regain your strength and energy. Exercising at your normal rate can setback your recovery. It's a better long term strategy to take at least 1 week to recover from something like the flu. Then, in the second week, begin to add non-aerobic exercise back in slowly. Gauge your body's energy and strength level on a long walk. If you're doing well, then begin to add in light strength training and so on until you are back to full strength again. 

  In the modern world, things move so fast. We've got jobs, kids, bills to pay etc. and it can be very hard to slow down and just BE. Gone are the days of the Sanitoriums and people tend to equate resting with laziness. However, resting is crucial to avoid sending an acute illness into something chronic. It's ok to take your time and enjoy the power of convalescing. 


Want to keep tabs on all the latest news related to Empaths/Highly Sensitive People (HSP's), positive mindset, and anxiety relief? Subscribe to my mailing list to receive a free gift on how to feel better and function better in today's world. 

Subscribe Now


April Darley N.D. is an Emotional Strength Coach specializing in helping Empaths/Highly Sensitive People (HSP's) feel better, and function better by releasing stress, anxiety, pain, and sabotaging behavior. Through the combination of coaching and emotional release techniques, you'll learn how to step into your own power, comfortably deal with life's challenges, and stay calm and balanced. 



Joy In Your Inbox!

Join our mailing list to receive weekly tips on how to live a more abundant and joy-filled life. 

Don't worry, your information won't be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.