The temperatures are nowhere near what I’d consider normal for May, but there are a few signs that prove we’re definitely in the midst of another spring: red, itchy eyes; runny noses and scratchy throats. Allergy season is here again and with lots of wacky weather around the entire country, many of us seize any opportunity we can to get moving outside when the sun finally breaks through. Of course, for serious allergy sufferers like me, that also means sharing the space with pollen.
Since the rain will eventually stop here in New York and the pollen counts will return to high levels in the not-so-distant future, this Motivation Monday provides the perfect opportunity to offer some timely survival tips for the season ahead:
- Smart scheduling: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the following tips will make things more bearable.
- Wear shades: Wearing sunglasses can help create a protective barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also never step outside without being armed with eye drops. One of the first five things I do each morning is apply Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops. Using them twice a day has prevented me from scratching my eyes out even on the highest pollen count days. (While you don’t need a prescription for the drops, you may want to check with your doctor if they’re okay for your eyes – especially if you wear contacts.)
- Don’t forget your meds: In my younger years, I got weekly allergy shots for nearly a decade. Over time, they helped lessen the severity of my allergy attacks, but I’m still sensitive to all kinds of pollen. Luckily there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can provide relief. While I’ve never been a fan of taking lots of medicine, I’d rather take something for a few months to help me stay alert and active than miss out on enjoying the outdoors. Speak with your doctor about what treatments might work best for you. To prevent the onset of symptoms, it helps to take your medication at least 30 minutes before you head outdoors. If you wakeup and then workout outside, ask your doctor if taking your medication at bedtime can help.
- Clean up: When you get home, shed the pollen-infused clothes, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. You also don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.
The best survival tip I can offer to get through the season is this: listen to your body. It’s hard to say you’re doing something “healthy” if all you’re feeling during an outdoor workout is sheer misery. That’s the time to head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in a workout DVD at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!