How do you get your energy back after having the flu? A story of stress, adrenal exhaustion, illness, and recovery

I awoke sick on Saturday morning. At first I had a bad sore throat. I thought it was strep. Drank lemon echinacea Throat Coat tea, sprayed a throat numbing liquid, and took two Alleves. Ate breakfast.

As the hours progressed, I began to feel achy and chilled. Nasal congestion wasn’t too bad. Throat became less sore. Pretty sure this was the flu. First stop, tonsils. They fought hard, thank you very much, but were overpowered.

I did whatever I could think of to boost my immune system. I drank Tulsi tea, then made tea from fresh ginger and drank that. I ate a clove of garlic. I did EFT three times. I did the thymus thump often. I took three long naps. Had no appetite at all, but stayed hydrated with teas and water.

I took my temperature Saturday night. 102.2 F. That evening was the worst of it. My body was a battleground, and I could only surrender.

I couldn’t lie still. Kept needing to flex and point my feet and circle my ankles, changing position often. All I can figure on that is I was activating meridians and moving lymph.

Sunday morning I felt a bit better. Took my temperature twice that day, 99 in a.m., 100 in p.m. Aches and chills were gone, and my appetite came back somewhat later in the day, but my energy was low. I decided to stay home yesterday (Monday), believing that resting now speeds recovery.

Today (Tuesday) my temperature was normal! I have gone out and done a few things that couldn’t be postponed (I’m moving on Friday, after all), but I still feel a bit weak and just not quite myself.  I’m accustomed to feeling pretty darn well and having a nice level of energy.

I ate some gluten-free chicken tortilla soup (minus the cheese, light on the tortillas) for brunch. I’ve made an appointment for acupuncture this evening. I’ll do the trauma releasing exercises later as well.

I need to clean out my shed, get boxes, pack, and work three days this week. I move out on Friday! I want to be well.

What I’d truly love to know is this:

What have you done to speed your recovery from the flu or a cold? In terms of supplements and diet and activities and healing practices and anything else that works? Is there anything I haven’t mentioned that has worked for you?


I’m adding this postscript on July 9, 2012. Hindsight is such a great teacher, bringing the gifts of perspective and insight.

When I look back on the time when I originally wrote this post a year and a half ago, I recognize that I was stressed about selling my house and moving and starting a new contract job. Then I got sick. Stress weakens the immune system. If it goes on too long, you can suffer from adrenal depletion or exhaustion.

That happened to me this spring. I experienced a fight-or-flight reaction, which means the adrenals are producing copious amounts of cortisol, activating the sympathetic nervous system. I had just just studied very hard for and then passed the national certification exam for massage and bodywork, and I was stressing about money and work. An acquaintance suddenly showed distinct signs of mental illness, which freaked me out. And then I had to go back to work, and I took a contract job at a technology company in a group experiencing a lot of chaos, with an hour-long commute.

No wonder, when I saw my acupuncturist after the job ended, she told me I was suffering from adrenal exhaustion.

She advised me to take over-the-counter rhodiola and eleuthero as directed on the bottles to recover from the adrenal exhaustion. I’ve been doing that for about a month now, and I feel much better.

I recommend frequent massage to help the body recover from stress. It helps the nervous system begin to regulate itself again instead of being stuck in sympathetic mode. This helps you recover from stress more quickly and experience the deep relaxation (and strong immune system, better digestion, better sleep, stronger sex drive, more playful attitude) that occur when the parasympathetic nervous system comes back online.

The trauma releasing exercises help too.

Managing your stress gives your immune system more resources to combat viruses like flu and to recover more quickly. Makes sense to me.

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About MaryAnn Reynolds

Blogging about body, mind, heart, spirit, and well-being at The Well: bodymindheartspirit. Offering bodywork and changework, specializing in Ashiatsu barefoot massage and craniosacral therapy. Also a former Truth Be Told board member now serving as a volunteer editor for the Truth Be Told Community blog, serving women behind and beyond bars.
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