A Mini Guide for Your Winter Malaise, or How to Treat Yourself When You’re on the Mend

Published in: Beauty Tips, Guest Post

selfie, sick, illness,

Pale? Puffy? Three days without washing your hair? Might be a viral infection.

This week I struggled for a subject to write a longer post on when it came to the subject of beauty and beauty related things. I grappled for an idea, when suddenly, like a message from above, it hit me, and hit me hard.



No, this post won’t be  exclusively about bronchitis, but it will be about how to feel more like yourself and how to enjoy the products you use every day, while you’re battling a cold, infection, virus, what have you. 

I used to get bronchitis every year as a kid, so when I started to get a dry, raw cough that kind of felt like a hole in my chest, I did what any 25-year-old might do, and tried to self-medicate for a few days. I don’t recommend it, but I took some cough syrup and hoped that this was not bronchitis. I had also already planned a night out in New Jersey to see some friends for my boyfriend’s brother’s birthday, so I wasn’t going to miss that just because of a little cough.

Come Sunday morning after the birthday celebration, and I couldn’t tell if it was the one (one!) shot I was convinced to do or the hacking cough that had me feeling so low. Either way, the alcohol probably didn’t help, and by Monday it was time to see an actual doctor. One listen to my chest and a solemn nod, and my prognosis was clear. Bronchitis it was! Next time I should probably forgo the alcohol and see a doctor sooner.

My current squad.

My current squad.

In the meantime, here are some of my words of wisdom on how to feel a little more like yourself while you’re recovering from/dealing with an illness.

Moisturize and hydrate

Every time I say the word “moisturize” to myself, I get an image ofLady Cassandra from Doctor Who, screaming “MOISTURIZE ME” and imagine strange men in suits misting me with a water planter.

Sounds nice, right?

Not if you’re basically just skin and a face. Anyways.

Since moving into a new place and dealing with dry air all winter long, boyfriend conceded and purchased a humidifier, which has been a godsend. As a cool mist humidifier, I’m not sure what the exact differences are between this and a warm mist (besides temperature), but it has made our bedroom much more tolerable, and in the first few days, has really helped my chest congestion. It also seems to have helped his winter nosebleeds!

This one from Crane is available at Target and comes in a bunch of funky colors. The one night I went without it, my nose was in absolute agony.

Don’t forgo the H2O

We’re all told that we need to drink more fluids, and this one can’t be any truer than when we’re sick. Now, there’s only one time you can rip my coffee from my cold dead hands, other than me actually being dead, and that’s when I’m sick. I’ve learned that I can’t even drink soy milk when I’m sick. Anything in milk form makes it that much worse. Water and tea are where it’s at. Treat yourself to your favorite brand of tea, and get to brewin’.

tea, harney & sons, owl mug,

Current fave: African Autumn by Harney & Sons; rooibos, cranberry, and oranges.

Don’t forget the actual moisturizer as well. For nighttime, I’ve been favoring this Organic Hydrating Day Cream by Boots Botanics. I know it’s a “day cream,” but it lacks any SPF, which I prefer in my daytime products. It’s formulated with rose hip, jojoba, and cocoa butter and feels amazing around my Rudolph-esque nose right about now.  

During the day, I’ve been favoring a combo of these three products — the Sea-Results duo I reviewed here and Biore’s KAO JAPAN AQUA RICH SPF50+/PA++++ Sunscreen. I’ve been using the serum followed by the Biore sunscreen during the day, and alternating the moisturizing gel/Boots at night.

Don’t feel obligated to wear makeup!

As someone who’s just getting back into the swing of things with beauty and has no qualms telling you this, it might be easier for me than others to go without a full face of makeup. But Saturday night, when we were on our way to go out, I felt like I needed to make my sick, pale face look somewhat presentable, so I flipped down the mirror in the car, got out my mascara, looked at it, and put it directly back in my bag.

My eyebrows were somewhat filled/shaped, my skin was kind of even, so I swiped on the NARS Satin Lip Pencil I got from Sephora for my birthday and called it a night.

Two days later, when I was at the doctor’s office, no one noticed if I was wearing mascara or not because they could barely hear my voice when I talked. Filling in my brows that day did make me more confident in my presentation. A full face of makeup, however, with the sweats and chills I had? Probably not.

Treat your body right, whatever that means to you

One of my biggest goals for moving into this new apartment was eating better. Boyfriend and I have been severely lacking when it comes to getting the right nutrition due to our move and his work schedule just before it.

Sunday night, when we came home from a terrifying trip to Ikea (we still desperately need a bed frame), we were both famished and unsure about what to do for dinner. I had a pork roast in the fridge that I’d been wanting to make all weekend, but I just couldn’t do it. I felt extremely guilty about not cooking, yet again, but my head was pounding, my chest was raw, and all I wanted was my bed. And maybe some wonton soup.

So we got Chinese food, and I made the roast a few days later.

Treating yourself right doesn’t just begin and end with food, either. By my second day of staying home, I was ready to get out of the apartment. I was at least going to walk six blocks and catch the bus to Starbucks. But I got through the six blocks, saw the Walgreens at the corner, bought some tissues and a water and turned right back home. By the time I got back to my apartment, I felt like I was breathing through a hole in my chest. Despite starting to feel a little better, I was probably only operating at 50 percent but had tricked myself into thinking otherwise.

Don’t do this to yourself. Stay in bed, put on a sheet mask, paint your nails, and make the time fly.

A hot shower is bliss, but if you can’t…

Get on that dry shampoo train. If you’re too sick to get out of bed, or if it just doesn’t feel manageable, and you want to look presentable for visitors (or maybe just to feel a little more human), get yourself some dry shampoo. I’ve been loving Aveda’s Shampure Dry Shampoo.

Obviously, since a chunk of the label has worn off.

dry shampoo, aveda, shampure,

I’ve gotten to day five hair with this. Feel free to judge.

Take this time to enjoy yourself

Seems counterintuitive right? How can you possibly enjoy yourself when you’re sick? Well, you can’t. But you can try. As awful as your might feel, like I mentioned earlier, use this time to pamper yourself. Put on your favorite sheet mask and lay completely still and let it go to work while you binge that show you’ve been meaning to get to on Netflix. You have to rest, and there isn’t a better time than this to hydrate and replenish your skin!

If you can’t get out of bed, bring your beauty fun to you and set up your nail kit on a bedside table or one that can easily be brought up to your lap. Being sick is the perfect opportunity to do your nails, because you can’t really do anything to screw them up (except maybe sneezing, that is!)

Whatever winter ailments happen to strike you this season, I hope they’re quick and mostly painless, and that you get back to your routines as quickly as possible.

Now I’m going to go make some tea and finally wash my hair.

Marcella Yakalis

Marcella Yakalis is a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn, New York, with two cats, one snake, and one very patient boyfriend. She writes about family, relationships, and oppressive retail culture. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram.


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So far, 11 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. joods says:

    Great advice. This article is keeper for my next bout of anything! 🙂
    Thank you Marcella.
    p.s.- I’ve been loving the African Autumn tea too. Delish and comforting.

  2. Bronchitis sounds like a b*tch. My mom and brother both often get it. Me, I’m more prone to getting throat infections. Also a b*tch.

    You really give some wonderful tips here. I totally agree that when you’re feeling under the weather you should just do whatever feels right and good! For me that often included indulging in lots and lots of ice cream (feels so good when your throat hurts!) and oh yes, there’s nothing better than a nice hot shower!
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | A new (and very yummy) iPhone cover + giveaway

  3. G says:

    Hi, I am a medical doctor and I just wanted to make a comment that if your diagnosis is really bronchitis your doctor should not have prescribed antibiotics to treat bronchitis. You were given a prescription for levofloxacin, which is an antibiotic used to treat pneumonia among other infections. Acute bronchitis is almost always from a viral infection and does not need to be treated with antibiotics (save few exceptions), especially if you are an otherwise healthy young individual. Over treatment of bronchitis with antibiotics causes increased risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria and this causes more harm than good for everyone since superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics are popping up all the time and are dangerous and deadly. This is a recommendation by the CDC to all physicians. I wanted you and the readers of this blog to be aware of this since many people will read your article. Please see the CDC website links for more information:

    For patients: http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/bronchitis.html

    For doctors: http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/materials-references/print-materials/hcp/adult-acute-cough-illness.html

  4. Holly says:

    As someone who is prone to sinus infections which then drip down & gunk up my lungs, I feel ya. I’m so sorry you’ve been miserable! My go-to meal when I’ve got the crud is either hot’n’sour soup from one of the two Chinese joints in town or I doctor up Top Ramen with red pepper flakes, fresh ginger, & fresh garlic. If I have to go out while I’m under the weather, I still generally take two minutes to smudge on some colored eyeliner, a dab of blush & some mascara. I’m pretty fair skinned so no makeup is a pretty ghostly look for me. Anyhow, you totally get bonus points for referencing Lady Cassandra! Best of luck & feel better quickly!

  5. Rachel says:

    Perfect timing. I have a miserable UTI an all I could do today was lay in bed and drink water. BUT I went and voted in the NC primaries on Tuesday and no matter how crap I felt, I put on sunscreen and some blush and some dry shampoo in these bangs. Adulting, I can do it!
    Rachel recently posted … Makeup of the Day – Spring Brights

  6. Chris25 says:

    Welp, if there’s any time during the year to get sick, this would be it. I’m so sorry to hear that you are unwell, but these selfcare tips are great. I am hoping for your swift recovery! <3
    Chris25 recently posted … Review: Chagrin Valley Aloe Aloe Aloe Soap

  7. Couldn’t agree more: Stay in bed, try to enjoy yourself or just sleep. Don’t bother with makeup, but do look after your skin, at least in a basic way, so you aren’t dealing with that after the bronchitis has finally gone away.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Spring Summer Trends 2016

  8. sarahc says:

    Thank you Marcella. This was a thoughtful article and I completely agree that we should treat ourselves with kindness when we’re feeling under the weather.

  9. denise S says:

    Great post and advice for feeling better when you are battling a bug or sickness.I rarely get sick but I do suffer from allergies . I use decongestant and steroid inhalers at night occasionally when I’m really congested. I love humidifiers! They moisturize my nasal passages and skin. But since I’m also allergic to dust mites I can only rarely use humidifiers because they cause dust mites to proliferate. I hope you feel better soon!!

  10. Sakura says:

    You look lovely, not sick at all! Thanks for the tips! You know what I also use to kick feeling down-essential oils. You don’t need to apply them on your skin. You could apply them to some wooden chopsticks and put them in a jar or get a diffuser.

  11. Erin says:

    I’m terrible about waiting out sickness. The worst days I’ll rest but the “starting to mend” days I often push to hard and get re-sick.
    Erin recently posted … Granite Coast Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay

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