Easy Self-Care for Smoky Weather

If you're anywhere in the west of the US right now, you're probably living under smokey skies. Depending on your sensitivity to smoke, you might be experiencing itchy eyes, congestion, sore throat, headaches, sore or heavy lungs, fatigue, or difficulty breathing. After a bad case of bronchitis in my mid-20s, I've had every one of these symptoms this week, so I speak from experience. Here are some easy things you can do to protect your lungs and ease congestion:

  • Limit your time outside and wear a mask when you are outside. Medical masks and scarfs will not protect your lungs from tiny smoke particles, so get yourself a mask from the hardware store rated N-95 or higher. Here are instructions on how to wear them effectively. They're not comfortable, but they get the job done.

  • Keep doors and windows closed. Smoke particles will settle to the floor within about 30 minutes in a closed space. Avoid vacuuming, as that will kick them back up into the air. If you're sensitive to smoke, running a HEPA air filter will keep the indoor air cleaner and make a big difference in your comfort level. Here are instructions on how to make your own filter out of a box fan and a furnace filter.

  • Try self-massage on your lymphatic drainage system. Here's a great tutorial on how to do it. It's very easy to do and can help a lot with congestion, sinus pressure, headaches, and plugged ears. If it makes you need to cough or clear your throat, or if your eyes water, those are all good things. This will come in handy again during cold season.

If your lungs are hurting, here are a couple of extra things to do. Like the lymphatic drainage, they'll also likely make you cough.

  • Shower with eucalyptus oil. It's very helpful for clearing lung congestion. I like leaving the bottle open in the shower so it enters the steam. You can also make it more intense by putting a drop in your hands, holding your hands over your nose and mouth, and inhaling.

  • Thump on your chest, sides, and back. Using the open, soft palm of your hand, slowly thump all over your rib cage. Not enough pressure or a stiff palm will make a slapping sound - aim for a thumping sound to send the pressure deep into your lungs and allow congested areas to shift.

Do you have other tips to share that have been particularly effective for you? Comment below!