A Doctor-Approved Trick to Feel Better When You're Sick (That You Haven't Tried)
When we're sick, it can be a challenge to stay positive. We don't feel our best and can easily become swept up in all the negative feelings—both physical and emotional—surrounding our illness. But a recent post in The New York Times points out that when we're sick, it's even more important that we try to practice mindfulness. Not just to encourage general positivity but to get ourselves back on the road to recovery.
"Mindfulness—moment to moment, nonjudgmental awareness—may be exactly what your body most needs when you are run down and under the weather," asserts Mark Bertin, MD, a doctor specializing in developmental pediatrics. He goes on to explain that stress increases while we are sick and when we try to manage our responsibilities while feeling crummy, we compound our physical ailments with negative reactions, "making us not just sick, but anxious about being sick, and maybe also resentful." This all can ultimately slow down our recovery or cause us to get even sicker, as stress weakens the immune system. "Instead, aim to approach your illness with care, seeing things as they are with acceptance and compassion," advises Bertin.
So how does one go about being mindful while sick? Begin by taking a few deep breaths, focusing on the subtle physical movements that come with breathing. If this breathwork practice raises discomfort, pay attention to that feeling while committing to less resistance, judgment, and anger. It isn't so much a matter of being dishonest with yourself but being compassionate toward your body and current state, acting with patience, and supporting your body on your journey back to a healthy state.