Thankfully, I don't get sick very often at all. Oh, but when I do happen to catch a cold, I would have to say that probably the worst part about it is the fact that when my nose is all stuffed up, it can be hard as hell to get a good night's rest because breathing through my mouth is annoying. Like, super annoying. So, since it is officially cold and flu season, I think we all know that this is the time when we're more susceptible to catching the virus known as the common cold than ever. As far as preventative measures go, it's important that you strengthen your immune system, that you wash your hands every time you come into your house and prepare to have a meal and that you get plenty of rest (no less than six hours of sleep a night, if you can).
Yet what if you already have a sore throat, stuffy nose, fever, headache and/or some fatigue going on? While (amazingly) there is still not an official cure for the common cold, one of the best things that you can do to reduce the amount of time that you have to endure the virus (because most colds stick around for between 7-10 days) is to get several consecutive nights of sound sleep. And how can you pull that off when you have some (or all) of the symptoms that I just mentioned? Hopefully these 10 hacks can give you some of the relief that you seek.
1. Eat Something Spicy and Drink Lots of Fluids Throughout the Day
Now here's something that just might surprise you. If spicy foods are so your thing, use your cold as an opportunity to treat yourself. The reason why I say that is because a lot of spicy stuff contains some amount of chili peppers and a bioactive compound in those is capsaicin. Capsaicin is great because it helps to break up any congestion you may have. Not only that but spices like turmeric contain anti-inflammatory properties too.
Just make sure that if draining mucus is bringing gastrointestinal issues along with eating spicy things that you don't follow through with this first tip. The reason why is because, if your tummy is upset, spicy foods can make matters somewhat worse.
Speaking of things that you should consume, it's definitely important that you drink as much water as possible. Water helps to flush out your system, regulate your body temperature and keep you well hydrated. On the topic of drinks, you should keep caffeine at bay. Since it has a mild diuretic effect on your system, drinks like coffee should wait until you're feeling much better.
2. DIY a Saline Rinse
At the end of the day, saline is simply a mixture of salt and water. The reason why it can be super beneficial when you have a cold is because this combo has the ability to literally thin out the mucus that is clogging up your nasal passages. Also, if there is anything in your nose that is irritating it (to the point where you are constantly sneezing or feeling like you need to do so), saline can help to rinse that out as well (because there is nothing worse than sneezing or coughing throughout the night, chile). While there are saline nose sprays that you can easily find at your local drug or grocery store, you can also make your own solution by combining distilled water and non-iodized salt together. For step-by-step instructions, Medical News Today has your back. You can check it out here.
3. Also Make Your Own Eucalyptus Oil Rub
Some of us have semi-fond memories of our parents (or grandparents) putting Vicks VapoRub onto our chest when we were congested. While I have nothing against Vicks personally, I prefer going the all-natural essential oils route by combining some eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil like sweet almond or coconut. Eucalyptus is dope because it's loaded with antioxidants. Plus, the properties within the eucalyptol that's in it can decrease bodily inflammation, break up mucus and even slow down coughing. So, if you're looking for some Vicks-like relief, give your own eucalyptus rub a shot. The results that it provides just might surprise you.
4. Gargle with Some Baking Soda
Sometimes, when I feel the beginning of a sore throat coming on, I will pour a little bit of hydrogen peroxide down my ears. While the fizzing is triggering as all get out, it does seem to nip the throat discomfort within a day or so. There have been times when I've gargled with peroxide too, although I think that gargling with baking soda is just as, if not more, effective. The belief is that sodium bicarbonate is able to provide an alkaline effect to your system which causes the virus to decrease in its potency. So, before turning in, take a stab at making a mixture that consists of one cup of water, ½ teaspoon of baking soda and (if you wish) a couple of sprinkles of sea salt (which detoxifies). If you gargle this for five minutes at night and again in the morning, at the very least, your throat will feel better. As a bonus, your cold symptoms may start to go away sooner too.
5. Take a Shower Before Turning In
When it comes to the viruses that cause a cold, do you know what they enjoy? They like to play around in environments that consist of low humidity. One way to combat that is to take a nice hot shower. While typically, it's best to shower in warm water (because it doesn't dry out your skin), the more humidity that you can drum up when you're congested, the better. Just make sure that you "seal your skin" as soon as you get out by applying your favorite oil (maybe sweet almond, grapeseed or jojoba) before your towel off; that way, the properties from the oil will "lock the moisture" into your skin so that it stays nice and smooth.
6. Drop the Temp in Your Bedroom
Germs thrive in heat. That's why, if you have a cold, it's best to keep your bedroom at around 65-69 degrees, if you can handle it. Besides, is there anything better than curling up underneath some of your favorite blankets? Absolutely not.
7. Use a Humidifier That Comes with a Diffuser
Remember how I said earlier that viruses loathe low humidity? This is why it's such a good idea to invest in a humidifier (because it creates a mist that increases humidity levels in the room that it's in). Oh, and if you really want to piss those viruses off, get the kind that comes with a diffuser too so that you can reap the benefits of certain essential oils that also work overtime to keep viruses at bay. Some of those include peppermint (it's a decongestant and fever reducer); oregano (it kills germs); cinnamon (it's loaded with antioxidants that help to strengthen your respiratory system); lavender (it lowers your stress levels); sandalwood (it's a natural sedative that helps you to sleep more soundly); tea tree oil (it contains potent antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties) and frankincense (it calms coughing and even aids in healing bronchitis).
8. Slightly Prop Up Your Pillow
When it comes to this particular point, think about it — when you have a cold, doesn't it seem like your nose is so much more stuffed up when you're lying down? While it's actually the inflammation of the lining of your nose that is causing the biggest part of the congestion problem, if you prop your head up with an extra pillow and then lie on your side, this also can help to bring you drainage and some much-needed relief.
9. Treat Yourself to a Hot Toddy
While it tends to come with some variations as far as ingredients are concerned, the simplest way to explain a hot toddy is it's a drink that consists of whiskey, honey, herbs, spices and sometimes some lemon. Although the heat of it alone can do wonders when it comes to soothing your throat, believe it or not, the properties in whiskey are able to help to dilate your blood vessels and reduce any congestion you might be experiencing.
Plus, when you add to it things like cloves (which contain anti-inflammatory compounds), ginger (which has medicinal properties to reduce inflammation and help to heal a sore throat) and lemon (which is loaded with antioxidants), it's pretty easy to see how it could be a signature drink, at least one of the nights, while you're trying to get over a cold.
10. Or Drink Some Chamomile Tea and Honey
If you'd prefer to go the non-alcoholic route, how about a cup of chamomile tea? As far as fighting colds go, it contains properties that help to reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety (so that you can fall and stay asleep faster) and fight cold-related symptoms. If you add some honey to it, the texture of it will help to coat your throat as its properties will aid in suppressing your cough and speeding up the overall healing process. You'll feel less "cold-like" within an hour or so, so that you can get the kind of sleep that you need to get over your cold so much faster. Sweet dreams, sis.
For more inspiration, self-care, and health tips, check out xoNecole's Wellness section here.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Actress and singer Keke Palmer recently shed light on the 'breast milk discrimination' she encountered at a Houston airport.
The incident allegedly went down on June 16, when Palmer, who welcomed her son Leodis Jackson earlier this year with longtime partner Darius Jackson, revealed on Twitter that Houston airport employees ruined her mood as she was discretely pumping.
In the tweet, the 29-year-old elaborated that her aggravation stemmed from the alleged threats spewed at her, including potentially disposing of "over 16 oz" of her son's food.
"Breast milk discrimination at the Houston airport ruined my mood," she tweeted. "I should've popped my tit out right then because the discretion and comfort of pumping is thwarted with threats to throw out over 16 oz [of] my [baby's] food?!?!!! Why is that not a crime?? I'M A MOTHER, for crying out loud."
\u201cBreast milk discrimination at the Houston airport ruined my mood. I should\u2019ve popped my tit out right then because the discretion and comfort of pumping is thwarted with threats to throw out over 16oz my babies food?!?!!! Why is that not a crime??\n\nI\u2019M A MOTHER for crying out\u2026\u201d— Keke Palmer (@Keke Palmer) 1686566225
It is unclear if the issue was resolved because Palmer has yet to release any additional details regarding the matter. Still, the Nope star's post was met with fans' support, and many shared similar stories about their experiences at other locations.
According to the official TSA website, breast milk and baby or toddler-related foods and drinks are categorized as "medically necessary liquids." This means those items, including break milk, formula, and puree pouches, aren't required to meet the carry-on regulations and can be transported onto a plane as long as it's in a proper bag.
In addition to those rules, it is also reported that it is legal to breastfeed and breast pump in public. Although different states have different laws, in Texas, where Palmer was allegedly discriminated against, a bill allowing women to pump in public areas was passed in 2019.
In light of Palmer's tweet and the controversy surrounding breast pumping and breastfeeding in public, xoNecole is sharing the stories of other high-profile women who have openly discussed their experiences, positve and negative, with breastfeeding in public.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed during a Workplace Flexibility Conference over a decade ago that when her youngest daughter Sasha Obama was an infant, she was forced to bring her to a job interview because she was still breastfeeding.
The star disclosed that she feared she would have been disqualified if Sasha's presence was a disruption. But because Obama had interviewed with the president of the company, who also had a child, they understood the responsibilities of being a parent and gave her the job.
"I packed up that little infant, and I put her in the stroller, and I brought her with me. And I prayed that her presence wouldn't be an automatic disqualifier. And it was fortunate for me that, number one, she slept through the entire interview. And I was still breastfeeding — if that's not too much information. And I got the job," she said.
"But I know that I was lucky, number one. I was interviewing with the president, that had just had a child himself and was very understanding and open-minded. But I know that most folks are nowhere near as lucky as I was."
In addition to her speech, Obama advised a plan to give tax breaks or credits to nursing mothers to cover breast pump costs, but the opposing party, unfortunately, scrutinized it.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Another person who has discussed the stigma of breastfeeding in public is actress Jada Pinkett Smith. In an episode of her Facebook talk show, Red Table Talk, Pinkett Smith revealed that she was mom-shamed as she tried to breastfeed her children, Jaden and Willow Smith.
The Girls Trip star explained that when she attended public locations with Jaden and Willow --who were respectively born in 1998 and 2000-- and had to breastfeed, she tried shielding it, but it became a hassle.
"I remember me, myself when I would be out with Jaden and Willow breastfeeding... I used to have that little [breastfeeding] cover. It would make it so difficult. They're in there [and] they're suffocating. I can't see them," she said.
Pinkett Smith added that the experience gave her anxiety because, at the time, breastfeeding in public was stigmatized.
"I had so much anxiety about it because back when I had them, breastfeeding was like, 'what? What are you doing?'" she stated.
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