Tis the Spring season for allergies and colds! Allergies and colds are two common ailments that affect millions of people around the world. While they may seem like minor inconveniences, they can impact your mental health especially when it comes to anxiety and stress. In this blog post, we will explore how allergies and colds impact mental health.
How Do Allergies Impact Mental Health?
Allergies are a common condition that affects people of all ages. They occur when the body's immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen, dust mites, or even certain foods. The symptoms of allergies can range from mild to severe and can include sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and a runny nose.
One of the ways that allergies impact mental health is through their effect on sleep. Allergy symptoms can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep, which can lead to fatigue, anxiety, overwhelm, irritability, and mood swings. Lack of sleep can also impair cognitive function, making it more difficult to concentrate and make decisions.
Allergies can also lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness. People with allergies may feel like they have no control over their symptoms and may struggle to find relief. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, which can further exacerbate allergy symptoms.
Even when you are trying to combat the symptoms of allergies, medications can leave you feeling groggy, sluggish, and fatigued. Further in this blog, there will be ways to manage the impact of allergies (even the effects from allergy medications) and how it pertains to your mental health.
How Do Colds or Sickness Impact Mental Health?
In addition to allergies, colds are another common ailment that can impact mental health. Colds are caused by a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory system. The symptoms of a cold can include a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever.
Like allergies, colds can impact sleep and lead to fatigue and irritability. They can also lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as people with colds may avoid social situations to prevent spreading any illnesses to others.
The duration of a cold play a part in how it impacts mental health. While most colds last for a few days to a week, some can last for several weeks or even months. The longer a cold lasts, the more it can impact a person's mental health, leading to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm.
Another way that colds impact mental health is through their effect on productivity. When people have a cold, they may need to take time off work or school to recover, which can lead to feelings of guilt and stress. They may also struggle to keep up with their responsibilities, further exacerbating their stress levels.
How Can I Manage the Impact of Allergies and Colds on My Mental Health?
Whether you are experiencing a cold or seasonal allergies, you need to return to what I like to call the “basics” which means taking care of yourself. Understandably, this may feel challenging to do especially when you have deadlines, others to care for, and just rather be doing anything else, but it is like putting on your oxygen mask on a plane, you can’t do anything else until you take care of yourself first.
Get plenty of rest: Rest is essential for recovery from both allergies and colds. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and take naps if needed during the day. By resting, it really allows our body to take care of itself and gives you that time for your body to recoup from allergies or your cold.
Practice self-care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, or a warm bath. The simple things can really help during this time, and try to recognize if you have any limitations.
For instance, I love to hike and be outside. But when I have a cold, my body tells me that strenuous activities aren’t a good idea. I often opt to sit outside in the sun to read to meet those two things I enjoy doing.
Stay hydrated and eat well: Drinking plenty of fluids and eating well can help alleviate symptoms and prevent dehydration, which can further impact mental health.
Seek treatment: A healthcare provider will know the best remedy for a cold or allergies when over-the-counter medications care not tackling your symptoms.
Stay connected: While it may be tempting to isolate yourself when you are sick, staying connected with friends and family can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Keep doing what works!: When it comes to your mental health, keep using the strategies that work. For example, if you find that you get caught up in your thoughts, journaling can be a great outlet to move those thoughts from your mind to paper (or however you like to journal, even via app on your phone) so they moved somewhere out of your mind.
Allergies and colds can have a significant impact on a person's mental health. By understanding how these conditions affect mental health, people can take steps to manage their symptoms and promote recovery. With proper rest, hydration, treatment, self-care, and social support, people can minimize the impact of allergies and colds on their mental health and overall well-being.