Fighting Off Colds

February 12, 2023

Alternate Title: How Evernote Keeps Me Healthy

I caught a cold last week. A cold! It’s been a while. It’s been over four years since I last had one. I’ve had COVID, of course – just once. But my last non-COVID sickness was in December of 2018. And yes, I keep track.

Normally I wouldn’t have even recorded this one. It was very mild with no fever. I did not miss work, though I did wear a mask. It did not feel like COVID, but I took four tests just to make sure. I’m not complaining. It was just a mild inconvenience, but it’s been so long since I’ve had anything like it, it’s going into the record!

I don’t get sick very often. Part of it is making sure I get enough rest – at least six hours of sleep at night. And part of it, at least in my head, is not letting down too fast. Most of the times that I get sick, I have quickly transitioned from a very stressful existence into a very laid back one. And going from one extreme to the other is not good for me. My body fights back and says, “We’re going from 120 MPH to 5? You’re going to pay for that!” It’s one of the reasons I like to play hard on weekends and on vacations. Going from 120 in fast-moving traffic to 60 on an open highway is way better than going to 5 or 0. It helps me stay healthy.

I also believe that my attitude towards getting sick matters. Simply put, I fight it. When I feel it coming on, I tell myself that it’s not going to get me. I adopt Jedi mind tricks like the ones Obi Wan Kenobi used, saying to myself, “This is not the cold you are looking for.”

I have shared my thoughts on fighting off colds with my work colleagues. To put it mildly, it’s not something that has been widely embraced. However, they may have taken a bit of pleasure in calling me mentally weak when I did come down with a cold. They were laughing with me. I think?

I asked my newest and 17th-smartest friend, ChatGPT, about what they thought about my theory. After 1.5 seconds, I got these statements:

  • Studies have shown that maintaining a positive outlook and using willpower to regulate behavior and emotions can have positive effects on overall health and well-being, including fighting off illness.
  • Evidence suggests that individuals with a positive outlook and high levels of self-esteem have stronger immune systems, which can help them fight off illness.

That being said, I know all too well that bad things happen to good people. There are no guarantees in this life. I have lost many family members and friends to cancer and illnesses, even when they did everything right and had the best possible attitude, so before you yell it at me . . . I know. Life holds no guarantees. I’m just doing the best I can, and for me, fighting back helps my mindset. And so does keeping track of my colds.

How do I keep track? Evernote. When Evernote came out back in 2008, I was one of the early adopters. For the last fifteen years, I’ve been a bit of an Evernote evangelist. Some might say I’m an obnoxious Evernote evangelist. The tie in the picture above is the Evernote logo. My sister Martha was out visiting a few years ago and she observed, “Mike – it seems like all you ever talk about is Evernote, Big Green Eggs, and It’s kind of interesting, but you need to diversify.” Agree to disagree, Martha – I really don’t see a complaint there. Those are three very compelling topics of conversation!

If you don’t know what Evernote is, it’s a note taking and note keeping app. You can jot down ideas, add pictures, add videos, scan receipts and documents, and more. It has been one of the most important elements of my practically paperless existence. All of my tax files are in it, as well as nice notes that I receive (I don’t save the mean ones!), and so many memories. When there’s a good quote on one of our bike trips, my friends know that it’s going into Evernote. And the best part is, I can find a memory I’m looking for pretty easily. When I want to locate a picture or a story or something quickly, I type in a few descriptive words, and people say, “How did you find that picture so quickly?” I remain a big, big, big fan.

So I have a note that lists every time I’ve succumbed to a cold since 2008. And because keeping track of my colds has been so helpful to me, I decided to do the same for Jill and Dawson. So whenever they would get a cold that kept them away from work or school, I would put their newest illness into Evernote and helpfully let them know how long it had been since they were last ill. I might have mentioned to both of them a few times (maybe more than a few times) that they were catching colds way more often than I was, and I might have used those opportunities to offer advice on diet, sunshine, exercise, and attitude. Let’s just say that, once again, it was not received with the good wishes that were intended. In fact, both of them eventually told me, rather emphatically, to JUST STOP IT. So I did. I still have the old Evernote files with their colds, but I won’t even look at them any more. Probably.

In the meantime, why did I get this cold? None of us caught a cold or the flu for so long during the pandemic for a variety of reasons – first and foremost is that we abandoned all things social. But we also practiced such good hygiene – washing and/or sanitizing our hands constantly, covering our coughs, keeping our distance. I am all in for our resocializations since the pandemic. We are social beings, and we thrive on being around others. So, I’m grateful for all of my human interactions and I plan on keeping them, but I’m going to go back to the hand washing/sanitizing-way-more-often-than-usual thing.  I’m not going to channel the 7-year-old me and fight or fake all directives to wash hands and brush teeth. Sorry, Mom and Dad, you were right about that, too. When I’m sick but not sick enough to miss work, I’m wearing a mask when I’m around others. And I’m wearing a mask to protect me on airline flights. All my choices, and I’m very good with them.

And, just for the record, when it comes to real colds/flus that totally knock me out, it’s been well over four years, and still counting. I’m staying positive.

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  1. Connie Harrington says:

    Everything you just said, Mike! In 22 years at the same school and w kids crawling all over me like bugs, I only got the flu twice, all w no flu shot! Needless to say, I’m all vaxed up and boosted now. W the flu shot too!

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Like bugs! Your positive attitude is what helps the most, Connie! Thanks for reading!

  2. I know that my Evernote file has a big ❤️on it for Tracee.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Yep. Exactly right.

  3. Bill Sampson says:

    As I have signed off lots of emails the last three years: STAY WELL

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      You do the same, sir. Thanks for reading!

  4. Whitt says:

    Ya, I’m not going to talk about my cold/flu experiences over the past 18 months.
    I’m ashamed. Bewildered.
    Ah, Choo! 😫 🤧

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Start sending me the dates when you get sick, and I’ll be glad to track it for you. In fact, I’ll do it for your family. As always, I’m here to help! Thanks for reading!

  5. Shannon Davey says:

    Manuka Honey from New Zealand, has helped me feel healthy. I am fully updated on all vaccines, and the only times in the last 3 years I have felt bad was due to all the shots. The Manuka honey has gotten me through hay fever, soar throats from not getting all the water out of my ears after swimming, even tired muscles and joints instead of pain relievers. A teaspoon is perfect, don’t need to add it to tea. I don’t take it everyday, only when I think of it, or feel that tickle in my throat. All natural, doesn’t go out of date. Take a small jar with me on trips.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Nice to hear from you, Shannon. OK – I’ll look into that. I wonder why that particular honey works better. Hopefully it will work on my peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

  6. Kelley Peters says:

    You used to get a cold at the beginning of every winter break…

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      That’s exactly right. And I hated it! It’s an odd thing – you’re so exhausted that you just want to rest, yet the best thing for us (at least for me) is to push yourself at least a little bit. Thanks for reading!

  7. Matt Kauffman says:

    Heard a theory on the 5-0 transition causing people to get sick. When you’re working hard and at least a little bit stressed your adrenal system is elevated to some degree. Since your adrenal system is active, your immune system doesn’t want to go into overdrive and make you symptomatically sick. Your body is at least partially in a fight or flight mode and can’t afford to compromise performance. Your immune system may be fighting something off, but not marshaling all the troops. When you go to 0 and relax the immune system basically says “my turn”, we’re not about to get eaten by a lion anymore so time to get sick.

    Also great post! Going to try your approach. I have 4 kids under 8 and I have not been successfully dodging the colds they bring home.

    1. Mike Matthews says:

      Always good to hear from you, Matt. And just like it was in class so many years ago, you take ideas to a whole new and very sophisticated level. I’d rather not get eaten by the lion AND not get sick, but I’m fighting against biology I think. Thanks for your comments.

  8. Michelle Krzmarzick says:

    You and EVERNOTE. Lol. I’ll have to try Evernote again since you remain such a big fan. I, too, rarely get sick, but because I don’t keep data like you, I can not adequately represent this to my family about how often they get sick by comparison. I do have a good memory, though. And I don’t mind sharing that! Stay healthy, my friend!

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