The year long clutter clear
March 27, 2018
December 20, 2021
Here’s what I learnt, and felt was useful to share as we enter another season of rising Covid cases, not to forget winter flu.
But first a disclaimer. This is obviously a personal take and not a recommendation for a Covid ‘cure’. Also, to be clear, I am cheerfully double vaccinated. Mask wearing. And now boosted. Plus I always get a flu jab in the winter — I got flu once about 7 years ago. Never again thank you very much, especially when it’s so easy to prevent. It’s no joke.
However, I do fully subscribe to my #happyinside way. It is based on extensive research, personal tests and trials. As such, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this helps to keep my immune system in tip top condition. But also, that it effectively ‘protects’ me against the vagaries of many other everyday storms — hormones, stress, workloads — all of which also impact the efficacy of our immune system, as I detail more fully in my book. Bottom line, even studies from Stanford University cite environment as more important than genetics when it come to immune function.
So with all that, what else did I learn?!
1. Catch Covid and it’s as if you did something wrong, and are therefore tarred by a ‘positive’ diagnosis. We seriously need to get over this. It’s an infecticious airborne virus that discriminates not between you or heads of state. I did nothing wrong. I’d been very careful, and I caught it off my 7yo son. He in turn caught it from a school friend who was likely infectious without knowing. It happens.
But I understand that feeling. When I was in the midst of filming, I dutifully tested before going on set, but always with a fear of the disruption it would cause if it came up positive. I felt guilty in advance! But inadvertently sending someone to hospital would be a lot more serious. Let’s be frank, if you’re young and healthy you don’t test for you, you test to protect those who are not, or who may have an underlying health condition that you’re not aware of. Or may be pregnant, as my understanding is, Covid is pretty bad news for expectant mothers.
2. The test and trace protocol that clicks into gear once you’ve been registered as positive via an official PCR test, borders on harrassment. I do not think it is appropriate to call someone via an automated voicemail up to six times a day! Why are you calling me? The message never said. Incessant emails too. It completely put me off ever giving my ‘correct’ details again.
More to the point, if I had been seriously ill, this would have tipped me over the edge. In the end I resorted to blocking the calls but somehow they were still able to leave messages. I understand the importance of informing close contacts, but see point 3…
3. You are not going to catch Covid by walking past someone on the street who has it. Nor are you going to get it at the supermarket by picking up a piece of fruit that an infected person may have just touched. I read about a case within a café where a number of clients were subsequently infected, but I’d wager that had far more to do with the serving sanitation than the space itself. Unless it was a very tiny café, with all windows sealed shut and everyone enjoying a very hearty laugh together for at least 15 continuous minutes.
In my case, my son sneezed in my face as small children are wont to do: “I didn’t know a sneeze was coming Mummy!” He slept in my bed that same night as he was feeling ‘a bit sad and coldy’ so we would have been in close proximity and breathing the same air for eight solid hours. A few days later, I too felt ‘a bit coldy.’ That’s how it gets passed on. This is what I’d deem a close contact.
And ref point 2, I’m pretty sure any other such close enough contacts would take it upon themselves to inform you if they came down with it. Or you’d know anyway. And vice versa.
It started with feeling a bit chilled, then a runny nose. That was it. No coughing, no loss of smell or taste. No temperature. In fact, none of the so-called recognised symptoms. If I hadn’t tested myself, I’d have thought I had nothing more than a bit of the sniffles. Not that I’m saying this to undermine the threat of Covid. If anything, I’m emphasising it. I could have been highly contagious and infecting people if I had not tested myself. See Point 1, last para. It’s not about me.
Without doubt being vaccinated helped, but I also believe it was a combination of the following that helped me push through and more importantly, has left me with little after effect…
1. As soon as I felt ‘a bit coldy’ I started making my soup. Basically bright vegetables (carrots, beet, squash) cooked in either chicken stock or bouillon, plus extremly generous amounts of chopped onion, garlic and turmeric (all prized for their inflammation busting and immune boosting functions). All lightly boiled together, then quickly whizzed in the blender. Easy, quick and like mainlining optimum nutrition.
I also used my catch-all cure for all ills, a mix of apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, Manuka honey and lemon. Full details in Happy Inside, along with all my other recommended high-health cupboard staples!
The point being to help your immune system do its job. Effectively ‘disinfecting’ you from the inside. In the same vein, I supplement with Vitamin D, and no alcohol, not even a cheeky small glass of rosé. Or sugar. See next point.
2. I made sure I got to bed nice and early, drank loads of water as well as pots of my beloved vervaine tea, and forgo-ed my occasional glass of wine with dinner. When you sleep your body heals. Never more important that when you’re trying to stave off an illness. Especially something like a virus.
This is why I counsel against those over the counter medicines that suppress cold symptoms. Of course I understand that sometimes the compulsion/need to just get on with it is overwhelming, or necessary. But symptoms are your body telling you that something is wrong. It’s letting you know that you need to rest. Divert your energy to recovery. Get better/stronger quicker.
Often our body tells us what it needs. Ignore it at your peril.
And I’m going to say this again and again until people at least try it to shut me up — switching off your wi-fi when you go to bed will absolutely change the quality of your sleep — it’s depth and length ergo it’s restorative power. My home is in fact a completely wi-fi free zone (all ethernet cable connected instead), nevertheless I even switch off the incoming connection box.
3. I felt a bit tired on a few days so I exercised! This might sound counter-intuitive but if your body is trying to fight a virus then engaging your lymph system is vital. Nothing gets the lymph going better than a session on a rebounder.
Wonder why we get a fever when we’re ill sometimes? Again, it’s the body’s natural mechanism to kill off intruding pathogens. Work up some heat via exercise and it’s more or less the same net affect. Clearly though, if you feel super weak then you need to go easy, but if you can walk, then walk. Get outside, get air. And if you can, do enough exercise to work up a mild sweat.
4. Then take a cold shower. When you’re properly hot after a workout it’s so much more doable. I always still start off hot to do my soaping, then turn it all the way down and try to hang in there for a minimum of 30 seconds. One minute would be even better. Then feel the buzz afterwards as your core sends heat whooshing back through your limbs to your skin. Brilliant for powering up your immune system. Think of that heat rush as a cleansing broom.
5. I kept saying to mysef that I was not going to get ill, or have long Covid. That I expected to feel fine, strong and in recovery. Not in a manner of denial. It’s more about reinforcement. Obviously, if you can tell objectively that you’re becoming increasingly symptomatic then you need to get help.
That said, the night after my test, I woke at 3am with my heart racing, frightened that I’d finally succumbed to the very thing we’ve all been so studiously trying to avoid. I remembered every article I’d ever read about healthy 30 year olds who’d died, the teenager in intensive care, the elite athlete suffering, and I started to full-on panic.
Who would look after my son if I ended up on hospital? Who would explain to him what was happening? What if I needed to go on a respirator? I wasn’t ready to die! Spiralling negative and very scared thoughts. And then I told myself to calm down. My mind doing this wasn’t going to help me in any way. Breathe. Breathe. Stay with the practical, not the emotional —I will do everything in my power to stay well. And Lord knows, my entire home is set up to support me.
I also clicked into thinking that the upside was when, not if, I got through this, I’d be coursing with antibodies and thus achieve a level of immunity!
Eventually my heart rate gradually slowed. I calmed down. I fell back to sleep. And if you doubt the mind/body connection consider laughter, or tears. You hear something funny, your body responds. You perceive something in your thinking mind as sad, your eyes produce tears.
Fear is natural. And healthy if it helps us to respond to danger. But the blunt fact is, fear of getting Covid crippled me absolutely legions more than actually having it. Beyond the restrictions of what we were collectively unable to do, it stopped me living. To be constantly in a state of fear and worry was highly destabilising (not to forget, also bad for your immunity). But the fear was something in truth I wasn’t fully aware of until afterwards when the sense of release was enormous, and palpable. Very much: ‘Wow, so that’s it, I’ve had it! I’m free!’
Obviously what length of immunity I may have is not yet known. I’m still mask-wearing and I got my booster after I got the all-clear anyway. I’d prefer not to get it again. So all of the above still stands.
Thus, right at any first moment that you ‘feel-like-you’re-coming-down-with-something’… start at point one above. Keep moving. Stay hydrated. Fuel with food. Heal with sleep. Try to stay positive. Of course, my main point and the very genesis of the Happy Inside way, is that prevention is always better than cure. So if you do all this anyway, chances are you’ll avoid many of the health conditions that potentially make you more vulnerable to illness in the first place.
It’s about exercising the physical, mental and spiritual in support of your wellbeing. After all, none of the above will exactly hurt, so worth a try? Stay strong, stay #happyinside
Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends, wellbeing and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.