Cold and flu season is kicking into high gear, and will stick around through March and April. Even if you employ your best hand-washing and immunity-boosting techniques, you may still find yourself with a runny nose, cough, congestion and fever.

It’s important to take extra special care of yourself when you become symptomatic with possible cold or flu symptoms, and try to rest and avoid going out into public unless absolutely necessary.

If you find yourself being taken down by a general cold, there are several things you can do at home to help your body rid itself of the virus and get you back on your feet. Here are 5 simple ways to help you get rid of a cold this season.

*Before you make any attempts to manage symptoms, you should always consult your physician first.

We know it’s obvious, but when you’re sick, rest is always best. Avoid trying to push through your symptoms, and stay home, warm and comfortable until your symptoms subside. Sleep is the number one way that your body can recover and restore, and during times of illness, it is paramount to your healing.

When congestion strikes, start pushing fluids as much as you can. Hot water with lemon and honey is a soothing way to ease throat and chest discomfort. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and avoid caffeine and alcohol during times of illness, as these can be dehydrating at a time when your body needs hydration more than ever.

Gargling can help to moisten and soothe a painful, sore throat, and it can be done up to 4 times a day to bring steady relief. Try mixing half a teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water, then gargle as long as you comfortably can. You’ll notice throat pain dissipating, and it’ll help you to kill off some of the bacteria in your throat while you’re at it.

Steamy Shower
When coughing and congestion feel like they’re keeping you from sleep, a steamy shower is a fast way to open up the sinuses and help you breathe more freely. If you don’t like hot showers, you can run a hot shower, close your bathroom door and sit on a stool outside the shower to enjoy the benefits of the steam without the hot water touching your skin.

Elevate Your Head
Lying flat can make a congested body feel even worse, but you have to sleep and get your rest. Try to elevate your head while sleeping by propping additional pillows underneath your head and upper body. While it may not be comfortable in the long term, it will help you to breathe more effectively so that you can get the sleep you need to heal.