8 Ways to Spend a Sick Day

Go ahead and indulge! These feel-good pastimes can help you make a speedy recovery durng a sick day.

1. Cuddle up with a pup
Dogs aren’t only man’s best friend. They’re also great sick-day companions (for men and women). Snuggling with your pet spurs a drop in blood pressure and a spike in the mood-boosting hormone oxytocin, so time with Fido could mean a faster turnaround.

2. Unplug your laptop
Your boss might thank you. In a Harvard Business School study, teams of workers who enjoyed device-free downtime were more effective than groups that stayed plugged in 24/7. Researchers say turning off the tech tools might allow workers to return to the job with renewed focus.

3. Order takeout
Indulging in spicy Indian or Mexican food might help clear sinuses. Look for dishes that feature hot peppers, which contain capsaicin. They create a “hot” sensation on your tongue and irritate nasal membranes, causing a runny nose—just what you need when you’re stuffed up.

4. Grab a nap
While you sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, infection and inflammation-fighting proteins. If you lose sleep, your body doesn’t produce as many. Stealing a mid-day nap could help boost your immune system by increasing your response to infection and inflammation.

5. Skip the gym
If you have a fever, extreme tiredness, muscle aches and swollen lymph glands, you have license to ditch your workout routine. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests waiting at least two weeks after an illness before resuming any intense fitness training. If your symptoms are only form the neck up, however, moderate exercise should be fine.

6. Get steamy
Add 5 to 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl with 2 cups of boiling water. Lean over the bowl, cover your head with a towel and inhale. The menthol scent helps to relieve congestion (eucalyptus is an expectorant), and the steam moistens nasal membranes.

7. Watch a funny movie
Laughter trippers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. In addition to promotion an overall sense of well-being, endorphins can even temporarily ease pain.

8. Feed a sweet tooth
To soothe a raw, scratchy sore throat, stock up on honey. Research on children showed that consuming ½ to 2 teaspoons of honey before bed led to less coughing throughout the night (it was even more effective than cough syrup).