Convalescing – A Lost Art

Convalescing - how to rest better

Convalesce.  ‘To recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness’.  From the Latin ‘valere’, meaning strong or healthy.

Back in the day, after an illness or setback, you were sent to the seaside to sit overlooking the waves, a crocheted rug warming your knees, a novel to read, warm cocoa to drink.  Nowadays we don’t allow time to convalesce.  Got a sinus infection?  Get over it. Take a tablet and get back to work.  Serious conditions such as Glandular fever and Influenza are not treated with the respect they deserve.  Getting better takes time. This also goes for emotional upheavals including divorce, death or bankruptcy.

Foods for convalescing

The convalescing digestive system does not need any challenges.  Keep food simple and nourishing.  Soups are perfect; no doubt chicken soup was invented for this purpose.  Eggs are also good; poached, scrambled and of course coddled. Baked and slow cooked meals are best.  Smoothies are easy to get down if your appetite is poor.  A value added smoothie could include milk (cow, almond etc), a spoonful of yoghurt, fresh or frozen berries, mango, banana, an egg or nut butter for protein, and a drizzle of honey.  Reduce coffee, sugar and alcohol as they tax the body further.


Now is not the time to start training for a marathon.  However, a certain amount of exercise may be a good thing during convalescence.  Gentle strolling in the sunshine is therapeutic. There is a branch of yoga known as restorative, that allows your body to ooze into a comfortable pose for up to 20 minutes at a time. No handstands here. The rule of thumb is that if exercise gives you more energy, then do it.  But if exercise does tire you, desist until later.

Herbs and Supplements

Herbal medicine has a long history of ‘tonic’ herbs that assist the body to heal. The herbs for convalescing depend to a large extent on what you are convalescing from.  For instance if it is bronchitis, then lung herbs such as mullein, garlic and thyme are the order of the day.  Nevertheless, you will also need adrenal strengthening herbs such as withania, rhodiola siberian ginseng and licorice; nervines (nervous system tonic herbs) such as St. John’s wort, vervain and valerian; in addition to immune supporting herbs including astragalus and echinacea.  Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed Tea, contains many herbs for convalescing.

Take Rest and Convalesce

There is an unfortunate narrative of being labelled a sook if one takes time off to get well or recover after an emotional shock.  However, time spent recuperating means you will have invested in a strengthened immune and nervous system. There is great value in convalescing. Take rest.