Breathe free and clear in no time—without a trip to the pharmacy.

Photo: Alejandra J. de Parga/Shutterstock

Whether it's allergies or a nasty cold, being congested sucks. It's hard to breathe, the sinus pressure is painful, and it can even affect your hearing. Blowing your nose offers some relief, but in cases where you're really stuffed up, it can be pretty futile. OTC medicines help dry out mucus but leave users feeling loopy, sleepy, and spaced out. What's left to do? The next time you're feeling all stuffed up, try one of these natural remedies-you'll be breathing free and clear. (Related: The Scientific Reason Why Your Colds May Be Worse Than Everyone Else's)

Steam It Out

Whether it's a steam room, hot shower, or a makeshift steam bath over a bowl of hot water, steam helps to loosen mucus and relieve congestion from your nose and chest. Intensify the benefits with the addition of eucalyptus oil, a natural decongestant. Whatever method you use, slowly breathe in the steam for about five minutes and then try blowing your nose and/or coughing. This is usually enough time to break up and loosen the mucus in the body. To aid with sleep, use a humidifier; it helps add moisture to the air, which will thin out mucus in your nasal passages.

Grab a Neti Pot

It might sound a little uncomfortable, but using a neti pot does wonders for relieving nasal congestion and pain-just ask any ear, nose, or throat doctor. Neti pots (in combination with a DIY saline solution) help end nasal congestion by thinning out mucus and built-up crusting in the nose; think of it as a form of nasal irrigation. Still not convinced? Check out these neti pot tips for beginners.

Get On the Mat

From back pain to stress, yoga has the power to lessen the symptoms of a host of ailments-including congestion. This mini yoga sequence helps to open up the chest and get the blood flowing. Soon enough, congestion will be cleared and that sinus headache will be gone.

Eat and Drink the Right Foods

When it comes to relieving congestion, there are some eating dos and don'ts. Do arm yourself with hot liquids like broth and herbal tea; hot liquid combined with steam helps thin out and loosen mucus. Don't load up on dairy products; casein, the protein present in dairy, has been shown to increase mucus levels in a small section of the population.

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