March 29, 2023

Tricks and tools for allergy season

Surviving the allergy season

Tricks and tools can be a real lifesaver during allergy season. In my early thirties, around spring time I suddenly was constantly scratching my eyes, rubbing my ears, and blowing my nose. By the time I was sitting in my practice with bloodshot eyes and a total lack of sleep from being so miserable, I finally diagnosed myself with – you guessed right – seasonal allergies! Over the years, it has been empowering to help myself and my patients with tricks and tools that I would love to share with you. And like everything in life, where things come and go, my allergies are gone now, too.

Before I dig in, one more note on allergies: They are an expression of an overreactive immune system. Some people think of it as ‘too strong’, but I don’t believe that. I think it is an exhausted system that doesn’t know to differentiate anymore what is important and what is not. Just like we don’t know to make sensible decisions for ourselves when we are tired and overwhelmed, our immune system gets confused as well. So we help it get stronger by prioritizing sleep, eating foods that nourish our gut (more about that later), and cleaning our surroundings. With clear boundaries intact, our immune system will be able to make more sensible choices.

The best tool to survive the season is your attitude

The best tool to survive the season is an attitude of allowing. Just like the sun goes up and down every day, not feeling well is part of life, too. It will come to you one way or the other. The good thing about seasonal allergies is exactly that they are seasonal, which means they pass.

Today, during my morning mindful cup of tea, I read a nice analogy in Haemin Sunim’s book: The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. He writes about how hard it can seem to control negative emotions, like feeling angry about not feeling well. The more we try to control our anger, the more it starts stirring us up. Imagine how the suffering you experience from your allergies is like mud whirling in an aquarium. If you want the mud to sink to the bottom so you will be able to enjoy watching the fish, you shouldn’t put your hands in the muddy water and try to press it down. The more you push, the more the mud will flow to the surface.

So what can we do instead? With practice, we can help ourselves by trying to detect what else we feel, and notice that some of our emotions start settling just like the mud in the aquarium eventually will. Everything is dynamic, the only thing that can really get stuck is the way we think about what is happening to us.

Just look at the tree and enjoy its beauty, don’t sit under it 😉

Some practical tools to make things right for you

Allowing reality to be what it is does not mean that you should just accept whatever happens to you. It just gets easier when you don’t need to argue with what is happening to you and around you. While you are allowing yourself to have the allergy, and feel all the feelings that come with it, you can do a lot to make things right for yourself. Here are some suggestions:

Keep your face clean and grease your eyebrows (oh yeah!)

Pollen, pollen everywhere! And they stick: on your hair, your eyes, your hands and the soles of your shoes. That is why washing your hair more often and keeping your eyes clean with eye wipes can be super helpful. Another trick from the house is putting some vaseline or other greasy substance like lanoline on your eyebrows, inside your ears, and nostrils. This acts like a barrier and prevents the pollen from moving around and bothering you. Don’t be stingy with eye drops either!

Put a wet cloth in your entrance to wipe your feet on

Pollen sticks to doorposts, windows and the soles of our shoes. Use a wet cloth to clean those surfaces rather than a dry one (which spreads the pollen). Try to use your dryer for your laundry where possible, rather than hanging your clothes outside during this season. Also, putting a wet floorcloth in your entrance to wipe the soles of your shoes on prevents pollen from entering the house. Or even better, leave your shoes outside!

Comfort yourself with food that boosts your immunity

Exhaustion brings on blurry boundaries. We might think that an extra serving of ice cream or some salty chips will cheer us up during our misery. Once we understand how our gut health is critically linked to a healthy immune system, we can make different and more health building choices around food. Give yourself a high-five for eating colorful fruits and veggies, drinking plenty of water and knowing that sugar is fake love.

Add some immune boosters to your daily routine

I use echinacea often in my practice when immunity needs some support. You can take 30 drops three times a day. After two weeks, do take a three-day break and assess how you feel. If your body still wants some after that, you can start another round.

Also, a high quality Omega supplement can do wonders. It reduces the inflammation response your body creates as part of its allergies. Take one to two capsules daily. You can continue this also after the allergy season has passed

Enjoy the beauty of this season!

The older I get, the more I love walking outside. When you do, too, don’t forget the greasy eyebrow tip and wear sunglasses and a hat, so the pollen doesn’t stick to you. I hope for all of you that you will enjoy this season and be proud for being kind to yourself and taking good care of yourself!