An Indulgent Skin Care Routine for After Illness

I’ve been suffering from this awful cold for almost two weeks now. Wednesday night it became so terrible that I went to the urgent care center for trouble breathing. It’s nice to know that “I’m having trouble breathing without dissolving into a coughing fit” is a reason to be moved to the front of the line. Two and a half hours, a session with a nebulizer, and a handful of pill bottles later, I’ve been advised to rest and avoid being outdoors in the cold. As we’ve just recently enjoyed the advent of true winter weather, this means avoiding most enjoyment of the outdoors.

It also prompted the doctor to advise me to work from home so as to avoid my rather bracing daily walks from and to the train station. Thankfully, my boss agreed and I’ve spent the last two days working in the comfort of my own home. Now, the last few days I’ve done the bare minimum to maintain my skin care routine. Washing in the evenings, tone, moisturizing, and a little herbal balm around my nose where it’s been chafed from tissues. While taking a break for lunch, I decided I ought to take a little time and pamper my neglected skin.

I started with a good massage with some grapeseed oil to loosen dirt and debris. This I steamed off with a warm washcloth and followed with a good cleansing with my Earth Science cleansing gel. Thoroughly cleansed and prepped, I applied a sample packet of Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. This lovely soft-pink gel smelled lightly of flowers and remained on my face for 20 minutes before rinsing and applying a Sephora Pomegranate sheet mask. I prefer the Rose mask, but was out of them and the Pomegranate was supposed to be “anti-fatigue,” which I thought might benefit after weeks of late nights and sleep interrupted by coughing. Thankfully, the fruity scent of the mask was light enough and actually quite pleasant.

I applied the sheet mask, made a pot of lavender Earl Grey tea and got back to work for a half an hour. After I’d marinated under the mask for a half an hour, I decided it was enough. I removed it and patted the remaining serum in. I finished up by massaging in some True Nature Botanicals Face Oil. I got a deluxe sample of this oil from True Nature Botanicals last time I ordered and it smells absolutely divine. If it weren’t so dear, I would spring for the full size. For now, I’m rationing it, as I can’t justify shelling out for just a nice-smelling face oil.

I have to say that in addition to making my skin look absolutely lovely, this routine was relaxing and uplifting and made me feel a bit more like a productive member of society again. Although my instructions to avoid exertion and cold air does leave me feeling a bit like a consumptive Victorian literary heroine.

An Old-Fashioned Remedy for What Ails You

And, no, it’s not alcoholic. While I’m no stranger to the shot of whisky that helps cure a cold, this is something far more restorative. As I mentioned before, I’ve just recently recovered from a somewhat grueling illness that started with a bit of a sore throat, looked like it was becoming a cold, and then turned into the worst sore throat I’ve had in years. It went from the early-cold dull ache to the ragged, razor-y feeling every time I even thought about swallowing. Sadly, the doctor could not find evidence of strep throat (which would have meant antibiotics and a relatively quick recovery), so I was left to my own devices.

Now, lemon and honey and vinegar and echinacea have their places in my arsenal of illness fighters, and they all came into play. Cayenne, oddly, became my throat-soother of choice, as a spicy-sweet brew of raw honey, vinegar, and cayenne in water, gargled often, left my throat feeling much better.

But by far my favorite remedy was good old fashioned broth, or rather garlic broth. I found a company that makes traditionally-simmered bone broths and sells them vacuum packed in pouches in the freezer section at my store. I prefer the chicken broth. I defrost and simmer one cup of broth. While that simmers, I peel and finely grate one fat clove of garlic (or two smaller ones) into a mug. When the broth is hot, I pour it over the garlic. It’s not exactly raw garlic, but it still retains some of the heat and bite of raw garlic. I sip this and feel my throat feel almost instantly soothed. It’s also nourishing and restorative, particularly at a time when one finds oneself unable to eat much of anything solid. The broth contains protein and makes a welcome break from sweetened teas. And there is some evidence that chicken broth may actually have some true use against the common cold.

Whatever the science, I know this will become a go-to remedy, and even though I’ve started feeling better, I will probably continue my morning mug of broth throughout the winter.

Renewal, Rebirth, and a New Year

With the new year beginning and the solstice signaling the return of longer days, even the most devout shunner of resolutions can feel a bit of the pull of renewal. Throw a holiday illness into that mix, and one finds a perfect storm of beginning again.

This week, I open a play. It’s Shakespeare, something I haven’t done for ten years. I will expound upon my love of the Bard of Avon later, but suffice to say, it’s been fantastically fun. Except when I’ve been worried all week about the impact of my lingering illness and raw sore throat on my performance. Thankfully, I seem to be on the mend, just in the nick of time.

Last week, I spent most of my time on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, with a cup of honeyed tea, and either my work laptop or an episode of Midsomer Murders keeping me company. I had started a calisthenics routine after Christmas, but found that cut short. So with a new year, a schedule newly free of rehearsals, and new health, I plan to take on some new exercise. Perhaps jogging on the weekends, and calisthenics in the mornings. Something to get the blood pumping and tone my muscles for aerials.

In the past, I’ve been a New Year’s dieter and exerciser. One year, I actually began my training for a marathon race with a 5k run on New Year’s Day. Other years, I’ve gone through some sort of elimination or detox. Now that I’m older, wiser, and less willing to give up life’s pleasures, I’m less likely to adhere to any sort of detox. Perhaps I shall try an electronic detox to get myself reading some of the books that have backed up. But it will be done with scone in hand, in moderation.

And really, rather than overhauling, I’ve learned instead to refine. Rather than throwing out my wardrobe and revamping it, instead I figure out how to put together what I have in new ways and buy only to fill the gaps. I’ve come to accept myself rather than wanting to change it. And that is the best kind of renewal for a new year: the renewal of one’s ingrained sense of self.