10 Ways To Stop A Cold In Its Tracks

Read time: 3 Minutes

Winter is coming. Which means cold and flu season is coming. Your friends and colleagues are coughing and sniffing and you can feel the germs building up in the atmosphere making their way towards you.

Your panic rises as you realise it’s only a matter of time until you too are smitten, red nosed, snotty and coughing a lung up.

But is it your fate or are there things you can do to prevent a cold from taking hold?

5 Early Measures To Take To Avoid Getting The Cold

Even if you don’t have any cold or flu symptoms, there are things you can do right now to prevent a cold from emerging – especially if those around you are showing signs.

  1. Get hand sanitizer and take it EVERYWHERE with you

Washing your hands every time you shake someone else’s hand or touch something they have touched will help prevent the germs from spreading. But to really protect yourself, buy a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it regularly throughout the day. Disinfect your work space, surfaces at home, your kids toys, your phone and anything else you’re making contact with regularly.

  1. Get more sleep

If you feel like a cold may be on the horizon, start going to bed earlier and try to get as much sleep as you possibly can. According to a study, people who get seven hours sleep or less per night are more likely to catch a cold. A lack of sleep can compromise your immune system and make you more vulnerable to illnesses, so aim to get at least eight solid hours of shut-eye every night.

Sleeping cat - Resting helps recovery

  1. Drink tea

Drinking tea and breathing in steam stimulates the hair follicles in the nose to enable germs to move out more quickly. For the best protection, try herbal tea with lemon to thin your mucus and honey which is antibacterial and soothing on a sore throat.

cup of tea

  1. Eat broccoli

Eating a range of healthy foods, fruit and vegetables will help keep your body nourished with essential illness-fighting vitamins and minerals. When it comes to your shopping list, go for the greens; foods such as broccoli contain chemicals to help white blood cell production and performance, boosting your immune system.

  1. Move around

Although you might want to cosy up in bed and hide away from the world and all your cold-ridden acquaintances, try to move around and get some moderate exercise to improve your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body. Just try to do exercise on your own or outdoors (if it’s not too cold) as gyms can be prime locations for fast infection-spreading.

Moderate exercise helps fighting the cold

5 Things To Do When You Feel A Cold Coming On

If the situation is a bit more urgent and you have an inkling that a cold its very quickly on its way to you, there are a few things you can do to lessen the symptoms.

  1. Start drinking loads and loads of water

Stay as hydrated as you possibly can. Drinking lots of water can help a sore throat or runny nose and stop it from lasting as long.

  1. Take care of your nose

Having a cold is bad enough, but having to suffer through a red, flaky sensitive nose just makes the whole thing 100x worse. To help, keep your nose moisturised and use good quality tissues with aloe vera or coconut oil in them that won’t harm the skin.

Runny nose

  1. Gargle some salt water

Salt water can help your sore throat and make it less scratchy. Salt can draw out the excess water in your throat tissue which will reduce the inflammation, clears out the mucus and flushes out bacteria.

  1. Take your meds

There are two types of people in this world – those who will pop a painkiller or paracetamol at the first sign of pain or illness and those who won’t take anything, even when they’re bedbound and unable to move. It is of course best to avoid taking medication unless you need to but when you have the cold, sometimes you need all the help you can get. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can help relieve aches and reduce your temperature and decongestants can help you get rid of that horrific runny nose.

Cold and flu medicines

  1. Stay away from absolutely everyone

When you have a cold that’s not so bad that you’re bedbound, it can be tempting to just carry on and go to work or do all your regular activities. But, where possible, you should stay away from others while you’re sick. It will prevent your symptoms from worsening or catching any other germs or illnesses AND it’s just considerate. If you go to work sick, you run the risk of infecting others and striking down more members of the workforce. So curl up under the duvet and don’t feel even a little bit guilty about it.

What are your best tips for preventing the common cold? Let us know on social media by using the hashtag #MyIrishLife

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10 Irish Organisations You Can Turn To For Mental Health Support

Read time: 4 Minutes

Mental health affects everyone. According to Mental Health Ireland, one in four of us will experience a mental health difficulty in our lifetime, so even if you personally have not gone through a mental health issue, chances are, someone close to you has.

It’s an essential component in your overall wellbeing. Good mental health contributes to your functioning, realising your capabilities, achieving your goals, coping with the stresses of life and maintaining positive relationships in your life.

When to talk to someone about your mental health

Mental health disorders and issues come in all forms shapes and sizes and the same issue can often affect people in different ways. For that reason, if you are feeling down or concerned that your mental health is suffering, it’s essential to talk to someone; whether that’s someone close to you or a professional, to offer you the support, advice or help that you need.

Some common symptoms of mental health issues include:

  • Feeling down or upset for long period of time
  • Worrying excessively
  • Having panic attacks
  • Feeling unable to cope with stress
  • Feeling detached or numb
  • Extreme mood changes from high to low
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Major changes in eating habits

Talking to someone is the first step to improving mental health

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms in a persistent way that is impacting your everyday life, it’s strongly advised to make an appointment with your GP or seek advice from a professional.

If you (or someone you know) are having suicidal thoughts, call 112 or 999 or go to hospital immediately.

10 Great Mental Health Resources In Ireland

When it comes to getting help or being open about your mental health, not everyone feels comfortable talking to doctors or even loved ones about their feelings or issues.

If that’s the case, there are many organisations in Ireland that can offer you more information, advice or guidance.

Samaritans Ireland

Samaritans provide round the clock support for people in need; whether your situation is urgent or you just need someone to talk to. You can also contact them if you are worried about a friend and you don’t have to be over 18. Calls are confidential and you don’t have to give personal details if you don’t want to. Call 116 123 or visit Samaritans.org.


SpunOut.ie is an Irish youth information website, created by young people, for young people. It’s an excellent resource with articles on all aspects of mental health and wellbeing, giving advice and information on a range of topics.

20 Irish young people lead the organisation with 400 others from across the country offering support in terms of editing, creating and proofreading copy for the website. Visit SpunOut.ie.

Couple talking about issues


Mental Health Ireland is a national voluntary organisation that aims to promote positive mental health to all people in Ireland. They have 92 Mental Health Associations throughout Ireland that fundraise and organise events and outings for people across the country struggling with mental illness. Their website acts as an excellent information resource for people who need help and advice and they also provide education and training on mental health for workplaces and communities. Visit Mentalhealthireland.ie.


Aware is a nationwide organisation that provides education, information and support for people dealing with depression or bipolar disorder in Ireland. They provide emotional and practical support through their helpline, which is open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 10pm. They also offer educational programmes, such as group education for adults, online courses, programmes for relatives and friends and school-based courses. Visit Aware.ie.


Jigsaw is the National Centre for Youth Mental Health that aims to offer vital support for the young people of Ireland, with 13 support centres across the county. As well as carrying out research and providing reports on youth mental health in Ireland, they have Youth Advisory Panels throughout the country made up of young people who volunteer to make a difference. They also provide education, training and workshops for young people, parents, teachers and health professionals. Visit Jigsaw.ie

1 in 4 will experience a mental health difficulty in their lifetime


GROW is a mental health organisation in Ireland, with 130 groups throughout the country. It helps people who have suffered or are suffering from mental health problems. You can call GROW or attend a meeting in your area where you can gain support and share experience with others in your community who have been through similar situations with regards to mental health. Call 1890 474 474 or visit Grow.ie.


Yourmentalhealth.ie is an online resource for people to learn about mental health in Ireland; how to support yourself and those you love and care for. It provides support in terms of online articles and advice pieces and can point you in the direction of local services. Visit Yourmentalhealth.ie.


Shine aims to empower people with mental health issues and their families by offering support, information and education. They also advocate for social change by defending the right of all those with mental health issues to equal rights and access to quality services. They provide a range of recover-focused support services, such as counselling and support groups. Visit Shine.ie.

Talk to someone about what feel - Mental Health Day

Pieta House

Pieta House is a non-profit organisation which provides treatment for those experiencing suicidal thoughts or self-harm. They also operate the Suicide Bereavement Counselling centres to provide free counselling, therapy and support to those who have been affected by suicide. You can call 1800 247 247 or visit http://pieta.ie/.

A Lust For Life

A Lust For Life is an award-winning Irish wellbeing movement created to transform how we talk about and treat mental health. It was founded in October 2015 and famously co-founded by Bressie. They lead powerful national campaigns on mental health and drive social change. The website is also an excellent resource with a range of great articles and personal stories about mental health to help change the conversation around the topic. Visit Alustforlife.com.

We hope you found this useful and if there are any other Irish organisations that you think we should add to the list, let us know using the hashtag #MyIrishLife on social media. Alternatively, you can leave a comment below.

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18 Pregnancy Myths You Probably Believe

Read time: 4 Minutes

When you announce your pregnancy, suddenly everyone becomes a baby expert – dishing out their advice and warnings left, right and centre.

“Don’t each that cheese!”, “Stay away from sushi!”, “Is that a glass of WINE in your hand?!”

And although it’s all mostly well meaning, some of the most common pieces of pregnancy advice can be confusing or worse – completely wrong.

So to help you navigate the waves of the incredibly strange and confusing time that pregnancy can be, we’re busting some of the top myths you’ve either heard or will hear when expecting a child.

  1. You can’t drink coffee
    If you literally can not imagine getting through the day without coffee then don’t panic – you can drink coffee when pregnant. You just can’t drink a lot of it. It’s recommended that pregnant women consume less than 200mg of caffeine per day, which is about equivalent to one cup of coffee. However, be aware that different brands of coffee will contain varying levels of caffeine per cup and decaf coffee sometimes does still have some caffeine in it. Always read the labels and err on the side of caution.
    Pregnancy myths - You can’t drink coffee
  2. You’re eating for two
    Yes, you have another life inside of you that you need to feed and nourish but this doesn’t mean that you have to double your calorie intake. In fact, you should aim to eat around 300 extra calories, on top of the recommended 2,000 calories per day for an adult woman. That said, if you’ve been pregnant before, you’ll know that sticking to a certain eating routine or regime isn’t always feasible due to unpredictable food aversions and morning sickness. So really, the best advice is to eat what you can, when you can and try to sway towards the healthiest options.
    Pregnancy myths - You're eating for two
  3. You can’t dye your hair
    If you’re a regular salon-goer, the thought of dealing with unbearable dark roots for nine months might seem like a nightmare. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Most research indicates that hair dye is not dangerous during pregnancy. When your hair is being treated in this way, only a small amount of chemicals will be absorbed by the skin and is highly unlikely to reach the foetus. However, if you do still have concerns, consider getting treatments that are further away from your scalp or using pure vegetable dyes instead.
  4. You can’t eat nuts
    For a long time it has been believed that eating nuts during pregnancy may cause your unborn child to develop an allergy. But, if you don’t have a family history of nut allergies, it’s highly unlikely that your child will develop one. If you want to eat nuts, you can as they are an excellent source of both protein and unsaturated fats.
    Pregnancy myths - You can’t eat nuts
  5. You can’t go on a plane
    If you have a normal, low risk pregnancy, it’s actually safe to fly during most of it. Of course, if you’re suffering from morning sickness or feeling uncomfortable during the end of your pregnancy, you might not want to. The reason why you’re told not to fly during your last trimester is to do with the airlines and their specific rules.
    Pregnancy myths - You cannot take the plane
  6. You should stay away from cats
    It’s not dangerous to be around or pet a cat during pregnancy. You may have heard of toxoplasmosis which is a parasite that cats carry in their faeces which may cause miscarriage if you pick it up in early pregnancy. However, the chances of catching it are low. If you have already caught it once, you can’t catch it again and if you live with cats, there’s a good chance that you’ve already had it and built up an immunity to it. If you do have a cat, avoid cleaning out the litter tray and if you still have concerns you can pay to get your cat tested for toxoplasmosis as an extra precaution.
    Pregnancy Myths - You should stay away from cats
  7. You’ll crave pickles
    Pickles are often the most stereotyped pregnancy craving when it comes to TV or movies. But not all women will crave them. Cravings will vary from woman to woman, using falling in the sweet, salty, spicy or sour categories. It’s very rare for women to crave healthier foods like fruit or vegetables.
    Pregnancy Myths - You’ll crave pickles
  8. The morning sickness passes after the second trimester
    Morning sickness most often starts in the sixth week of pregnancy and lasts until the fourteenth. But while some women can get through the whole nine months without any sickness at all, others will experience it until later into your pregnancy. If this happens, don’t worry but if your sickness is severe, then make an appointment with your doctor.
    The morning sickness passes after the second trimester
  9. You’ll be glowing
    We’ve all heard of that mysterious pregnancy glow that women get when they’re expecting but unfortunately it’s not always a reality. In fact, many women can suffer from acne during pregnancy as hormones called androgens can cause excess sebum and oil in the skin.
    You’ll be glowing
  10. Pushing out the baby is fine, it’s the contractions that hurt
    If you speak to anyone whose given birth before, each woman will have her own tale of which was the most painful part. Some will say the contractions, others will say the pushing and then there will be those who claim the placenta was the worst part. Honestly, it’s a personal experience and also your birth plan and choice of pain relief will influence how you feel. We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but childbirth tends to be painful, regardless. Whilst pushing might not be the most physically painful part for you, it may be the most exhausting so concentrate on breathing through your contractions, rather than holding your breath to avoid using energy.
    Pushing out the baby is fine, it’s the contractions that hurt
  11. Giving birth is easier if you have wider hips
    We’ve all heard the phrase ‘childbearing hips’, but it’s not the width of a woman’s hips that determines the space that the baby has to pass through the birth canal. Instead, it is the shape of the pelvis which is the part of the body that pushes the baby out. Just because you appear to have wide hips does not mean that your pelvis is equally as wide.
  12. Twins skip a generation
    When you find out you’re pregnant, you almost immediately start running through your family tree to see if having twins may be a possibility. But, in fact, the notion that twins skip a generation is a myth. There is a gene which makes women more prone to releasing two eggs and having fraternal twins. However, there is no gene which makes a woman more likely to have identical twins; which happens when one fertilized egg splits in two. When more than one set of identical twins occurs in a family, this is nothing more than a coincidence. So, while fraternal twins can run in families, there is no evidence to suggest that it skips a generation.
  13. Postnatal depression happens a few days after the birth
    Many people believe that if you’re going to suffer from postnatal depression, it will happen rather suddenly, within a few days of giving birth. However, postnatal depression affects all women differently. And while it can happen suddenly, it can be gradual for others. It can be very common to feel down or teary in the first few weeks after birth as your hormones fluctuate and you adjust to the huge life change. If this lasts longer than a couple of weeks or if the feelings worsen, you should always speak to your doctor or health visitor.
    Postnatal depression happens a few days after the birth
  14. A good cream will help your stretch marks
    Stretchmarks are very common during pregnancy and happen when the middle layer of skin (the dermis) becomes stretched and broken in places. Whether or not you get stretchmarks depends on the elasticity of your skin which differs from woman to woman. Although there are many creams on the market that claim to prevent or remove stretchmarks, there is no evidence that any of these are actually effective.
  15. Spicy food will help labour
    When you’re coming towards the end of your pregnancy, feeling uncomfortable and impatient, you’ll almost do anything to get things going and kickstart the journey to meeting the little human you’ve been cooking. But unfortunately there is no known way to induce labour and no food which acts as the catalyst. Labour happens when the baby sends a signal to your uterus that causes it to contract. Although there are many theories on why spicy foods could stimulate contractions, not enough research has been done to validate this.
  16. Your water breaks when you go into labour
    In the movies, when a woman goes into labour, her water always dramatically breaks in an inconvenient situation. But this doesn’t always happen in real life. In fact, in only very few cases does a woman’s water break before she goes into labour. And, it doesn’t always feel like a huge gush. Most of the time, it’s just a trickle which feels embarrassingly like you’ve wet yourself.
  17. Your lady parts will never be the same
    When you get pregnant for the first time, fear emerges that your body will never recover – specifically your nether regions. However, in most cases there’s nothing to worry about. The vagina is made to push out a baby, so, theoretically, nothing should be damaged afterwards. That said, every birth and every woman is different so whether things return to normal, completely depends on your experience and your genetics. Most women say that although their vagina changes slightly after birth, it’s close to what it was before after a few months. To help things as much as possible, do your pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the area.
    Your lady parts will never be the same
  18. The pain is over when the baby is out
    Yes, once you hold that baby in your arms you will feel a sense of euphoria and love like you’ve never experienced before but once you bump back down to earth – everything’s not exactly all rosy and perfect. You will be in pain. Downstairs will hurt and parts of you didn’t expect, like your neck and arms, might even hurt too. Your first trip to the bathroom will be…an experience, to say the least and it may hurt to sit down for a good few days afterwards. However, as cliché as it sounds and no matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s true – when you look at that tiny, perfect baby that you created, every second of pain will feel one million per cent worth it.
    The pain is over when the baby is out

What’s the biggest pregnancy myth you’ve heard? Let us know using the hashtag #MyIrishLife

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Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurancepension and investment needs.

How To Tell If You Have High Functioning Anxiety

Read time: 4 Minutes

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues faced by people of all ages across Ireland – it’s thought that around 1 in 9 people will suffer from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

And while most of us are familiar with the common anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks and overwhelming feelings of fear, for many of those who suffer at the hands of anxiety – sometimes it’s not all that obvious.

What is high functioning anxiety?

People with high functioning anxiety often seem calm and ‘normal’ on the surface. They’re usually Type A personalities; busy perfectionists and high achiever with good jobs and seemingly active social lives and heaps of confidence.

But this is often a camouflage. Behind this, there’s a war going on in their minds. They are plagued by persistent negative thoughts, believing they’re bad people who aren’t good enough no matter how much they achieve or how hard they work. They believe they perform badly in their jobs, that they’re bad friends and often let people down.

For those worst affected by high functioning anxiety, they may even have manic episodes of feeling like they’re going crazy or have depressive periods.

How to tell if you have high functioning anxiety – 7 symptoms

Anxiety is difficult to diagnose and understand at the best of times but can be particularly problematic when the symptoms are hidden and the issue seems invisible.

Below are some of the key indicators of high functioning anxiety. If you identify with any or all of these, there’s a good chance that you may be suffering without even knowing it.

1. Feeling physically unwell

Anxiety always manifests physically but can be subtle and gradual and hard to identify. If you suffer from any kind of anxiety you might find that you get sick more often than other people, as your body over produces the stress hormone cortisol which can become depleted over time and impact your immune system.

Stomach pains and bowel trouble can also be a side effect of anxiety as stress can cause your digestive system to speed up or slow down dramatically. Stress can also cause your muscles to tighten and spasm which may lead to headaches, neck, jaw or back pain.

When anxiety is hidden it can also sometimes ‘leak out’ in the form of nervous tics. Some people will sniff compulsively, bite their nails, scratch themselves, touch their face or play with their hair as a result of feeling internally anxious.

High functioning anxiety - feeling unwell

2. Declining invites even though you want to go

Have you ever talked yourself out of going to an event that you were really looking forward to? People with high functioning anxiety hate missing out on opportunities and have a hard time declining invites but, when it comes to attending events, they can become overwhelmed with the thought of meeting and talking to people, often obsessively wondering ‘what if they don’t like me?’ or ‘what if they think I’m no fun’ or ‘what if I embarrass myself’.

Because if this, they’ll often not turn up to events or meetings that they’d love to attend because they can’t stop thinking about the worst case scenario and all the possible ‘what ifs’.

High functioning anxiety - declining events

3. Needing constant reassurance

We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to others, especially on social media. But when you suffer from high functioning anxiety, this comparison is constant and obsessive. This is due to the overwhelming feeling of never feeling good enough – the most common symptom of high functioning anxiety.

As a result of this, sufferers tend to need a lot of reassurance and to be told often that they’re doing a good job. Their minds will be dominated by negative self-talk and will believe that they are inherently bad people. When they make mistakes or do things that are imperfect, they’ll blame their own character flaws, thinking that they are stupid or lazy.

High functioning anxiety - need for reassurance

4. Replaying mistakes and conversations in your head

Everyone makes mistakes but when you suffer from high functioning anxiety, you’re terrified of them. And when mistakes occur (which they do, because everyone is human), you’ll obsess over them; replaying scenarios over and over in your head thinking of things you could and should have done differently and always believing that you are to blame.

You’ll fixate on conversations and interactions with other people from days, weeks or even months ago, over-analysing every word they said to try and find some hidden meaning. You might agonise over replying to emails or messages, constantly writing and re-writing to try and find the perfect response.

High functioning anxiety - replaying every moment

5. Inconsistent sleep patterns

Anxiety sufferers often have difficulty with sleep. Many will deal with insomnia – finding it hard to get to sleep and quieten their mind at night. On the flip side, other anxiety sufferers might find that they can’t get enough sleep; they’re always exhausted and maybe even unable to get out of bed in the morning, with no physical or mental energy to function properly.

anxiety - sleep patterns

6. Being a perfectionist – things have to be done ‘your way’

Those who endure high functioning anxiety are Type A personalities. They are anal and perfectionist and things absolutely have to be done their way. They like to feel in control of everything and can therefore become incredibly overwhelmed by the thought of change or when things don’t go exactly to plan.

They like to be constantly busy and striving for perfection in all areas of life. When there’s always something to do, it means they don’t have to focus on what’s really going on beneath the surface. Because of this, those who have high functioning anxiety will compartmentalise their feelings and can often come across as cold or emotionless people who don’t know how to have fun and relax.

Being a perfectionist

7. You have a hard time saying no

We all hate letting people down, but for those with high functioning anxiety, this fear is often at the forefront of their minds. They say yes to everything as they don’t want others to think that they are incapable. They put immense pressure on themselves and hold themselves to unachievable standards which can lead to further stress when things don’t work out as planned.

High functioning anxiety - say no

How to deal with high functioning anxiety

High functioning anxiety sufferers tend to be less likely to seek help as they don’t feel like they are ‘sick enough’ to see their doctor and may feel embarrassed about talking to someone when they don’t feel like they have any ‘real problems’.

However, when anxiety in any form is left untreated, symptoms can worsen significantly over time, making the disorder more difficult to combat. We recommend seeking professional help or talking to someone trusted about how you’re feeling.

There are also a few things you can do yourself to better manage the invisible symptoms.

1. Know your body

Pay close attention to your body and how you’re feeling on a daily basis. Try keeping a journal to monitor your moods and emotions and try to identify any physical symptoms such as tics or pains. These will be useful if you see a doctor and will help you prevent symptoms from worsening.

Start a journal

2. Diet and exercise

If you see a doctor, eating right and getting exercise will be their first recommendation. Whilst this is certainly not a cure, it’s important that your body has enough nutrients and energy to help combat physical symptoms of anxiety. Exercise can also provide great stress relief for many sufferers.

3. Pick up a hobby

Having a hobby or something that you love to do can be invaluable when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. It helps keep your mind occupied and gives you purpose beyond your professional and social demands. A hobby that you can do with others may open up your social life which can be beneficial if you’re feeling lonely and isolated by your anxiety.

Me time

4. Me time

Persistent negative self-talk is a very common symptom of high functioning anxiety and it can be hard to break the cycle of putting yourself down and feeling bad about yourself. To help fight this, it’s important to treat yourself and indulge in things that make you feel good; whether that’s taking an hour every night to have a bath or glass of wine, or booking a holiday.

It’s crucial to understand that you’re not a bad person – you just have a habit of thinking negatively, which can be broken by being a little nicer to yourself.

If you want to read more about mental health in Ireland, you can check these useful online resources:

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Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurancepension and investment needs.