With pollen counts spiking, you may have found your nasal passages cemented shut this weekend. The finest way to spend a day in the park is with your head all heavy with snot and your mouth dry from all the (literal) mouth-breathing. A Kleenex is meaningless at that point—no amount of nose-blowing, no matter how heroic, could get that mucus out of the paint.
An unintentional solution finally arrived while sitting in my gym’s steam room. After about two minutes of sulking, I felt a small shuddering sensation as the steam snuck in there, loosening up the mucus, clearing out at first a small and then a blessedly large passage for air. After about five minutes of deep, intentional breathing, my nose returned to normal function, and somehow the relief lasted for hours.
When you don’t have access to a steam room at a gym or spa—i.e., most times, for most people—you can recreate the experience with a bowl of boiling water. Lean over the bowl and drape a towel over your head to trap the steam, creating a mini-tent with an occupancy of one. Then, without getting your face too close to the scalding water, just breathe slow. Maybe throw some herbs or lemon in there for a swankier experience; some swear by eucalyptus oil as a natural decongestant, and if nothing else, it makes the steam more pleasant to intake. (Note: humidifiers serve the same function at a lower intensity, longer time-frame.) Waking up in the morning already seems so much less miserable knowing the stovetop holds my salvation.