Seasonal allergies can be positively miserable, and fall allergies—while they may get less press than spring allergies—can be truly brutal. That all-too-sudden transition from enjoying the last days of summer to becoming a sneezy, watery-eyed mess is really something we could do without. While we can’t necessarily make the fall transition any faster, we can arm you with some very smart strategies (and weird tricks that really do work!) to help get you through September sneeze free.
Honey is incredible for beefing up your natural immunity because because it’s essentially plant nectar, which can help build up your resistance to plant-based allergies in much the same way a vaccine does. Essentially, bees gather nectar from plants, picking up pollen spores in the process—so when it comes to honey-making time, there’s a bit of that pollen that makes it into the honey. By eating the honey, your body is building up a natural resistance to said pollen—ingesting it a tiny bit at a time, just like a vaccine. One note: Make sure you’re buying local honey! That way, you’re ingesting pollen that’s specific to your area.
Take a eucalyptus bath.
Used as a natural decongestant for hundreds of years, the aromatic vapors of eucalyptus essential oil can be inhaled during a warm soak to help clear the sinuses. It can even work to prevent sickness when you feel the tell-tale signs of the flu coming on, including chills, stuffy nose, head congestion, and general exhaustion. We’re all about any excuse for a relaxing bath! Try Kneipp’s Eucalyptus Cold & Sinus Relief Herbal Bath—the high concentration of eucalyptus makes it especially effective in helping you breathe easier.
Remember your vitamins.
You’ll want to stick to whatever vitamin and supplement routine your doctor recommends, but this also is a great time to amp up on the probiotics. The affectionately named “good bacteria” improves digestion and strengthens your immune system. Don’t skimp on the vitamin C, either—it acts as a natural antihistamine as well as an antioxidant to help fight cold and flu symptoms all season long.
Ditch the window fan.
It may sound bizarre, but fans and window AC units pull pollen and other allergens indoors. For the same reason, you may just want to keep those windows closed when driving.
Adjust your schedule.
Pollen counts are highest in the morning. Whenever possible, avoid the outdoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., suggests Paul Iskyan, the owner of Rug Renovating. Iskyan specializes in cleaning and restoring rugs that have been damaged over time by the same debris that causes allergies—he’s seen firsthand the impact of allergens entering your home, and the havoc they can wreak on those with sensitivities once they do. While skipping your morning commute may not exactly be an option, try turning your morning run into an evening one, as it’ll help reduce both your direct exposure to allergens and the amount of them you bring home with you.
Give Jin Shin Jyutsur a try.
A great way to reduce inflammation and help to clear your sinuses is the simple Japanese practice of Jin Shin Jyutsu. This practice evokes, elicits, and induces the relaxation response, calms the nervous system, boosts the circulatory system, decreases symptoms of pain, anxiety, stress, nausea, and fatigue, and helps to open and clear the sinuses, says Teri Meissner, a certified Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner, and an integrative wellness practitioner specializing in stress management and relaxation. The very simple exercise of holding your fingers gently, without pressure, on the thumb side of your elbows for anywhere from five to 20 minutes can help to alleviate sinus congestion.
Get your carpets cleaned at least twice a year.
Carpets are like a big filter that traps pollutants and allergens, says Iskyan. When they get full, they start to expel and redistribute allergens back into the air. It takes about six to 12 months for a carpet to get full of mold spores, bacteria and other microscopic little creatures. The thought isn’t exactly pleasant, and the reality is even less so, which is why it’s good to be diligent about getting your rugs cleaned.
Change up your beauty routine.
When it comes to concealing the visual evidence of allergies, consider ditching bright colors and embracing earthy tones. By choosing muted shadows and dewy cheeks, you’ll move all attention to the lips, which is especially helpful when trying to disguise a red nose, detract from watery eyes, and play down puffiness, says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg.
As you’re getting ready to refresh your fall wardrobe, give your traditional eyeliner technique a refresh, too. By using eyeliner to transform the shape of your eyes, you’ll not only be totally on-trend this fall, but you’ll also be helping to draw focus away from watery eyes and puffiness, says Greenberg.
Consider your diet.
Given its association with inflammation that then leads to mucus, congestion, and other afflictions of the respiratory system, Ayurveda, an ancient practice of natural healing, considers nasal inflammation to be an aggravation of the fire and earth energies that sit in the stomach and head/chest regions, respectively, says Yogi Cameron, host of Veria Living TV’s “Yogi Cameron: A Model Guru.” In Ayurveda, the immune system’s strength is directly related to the strength of the digestive system—with essentially, a week digestive system indicates a weakened immune system.
To avoid allergy symptoms, the first step is to strengthen digestion with proper food choices and eating habits, says Cameron. “This will balance the digestive ‘fire’ associated with the fire element and lead to a lessening of inflammation in the affected areas. It is also important to utilize therapies that, along with stabilizing the digestive fire in the stomach, lessen the incidence of mucus in the head and chest region,” Cameron says. It is important to reduce the intake of foods that create more heat in the body and aggravate fire energy, such as spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and sour foods like yogurt and pickles. It is also important to avoid heavy foods that are difficult to digest and produce more earth energy in the body such as red meat, dairy products like cheese and ice cream, sweet fruits like strawberries and raspberries, and sugary sweets like candy and cake. (Yup, there goes all your favorite guilty pleasures—but think of all the inflammation you may be spared!)
Read more: Beauty Tips to Help Mask Allergies