How are you? How are your peoples? How is your immune system?
I was actually not feeling well earlier this week and it foregrounded how scary even just simple and common illnesses are to navigate right now. Today I want to share the things my family and I are doing to boost our immune systems. So many of these are things we already know. But in times of big changes and stress, we need gentle reminders. Take a quick look and see if anything surprises you. You may want to add one or two tips into your regular routine.
Sleep is actually more beneficial to your nervous system than meditation. It is the foundation for health. If you are struggling to get enough try moving your bed time earlier by just 15 minutes. You don’t have to make a big shift all at once. Sleep experts tell us that the hours of sleep we get before 12 midnight are the most beneficial and are especially important for bringing down adrenaline levels. So as much as possible practice good screen hygiene and turn them off so your body clock can wind down. I’m not perfect at this and some nights I do want to watch Netflix after the kids are in bed, but other nights I use that time to enjoy a conversation with Rich or otherwise relax. Do the best you can to attend to sleep right now and it will benefit you in many ways.
Remember bio-individualism. This is one of my favorite terms. It simply means we are all physiologically unique. So while 8 hours a night may be enough for the average person, you have to tune into YOUR needs. I am more of a 9 hours a night person, especially when I’m stressed.
Enjoy the little pleasures available to many of us right now, like waking without an alarm + physical movement. Waking with the sun, followed by some physical movement that makes you sweaty, is a wonderful seasonal practice especially in the spring. I don’t usually hop out of bed to do anything too strenuous, but I do love morning yoga or chigong. (I’ve linked here to some of my favorite free online resources). And if you are open to brisk exercise, my husband goes on an almost daily dawn bike ride in the hills of Asheville and he returns so vibrant. Most days I prefer a brisk walk in the afternoon, but maybe one morning I’ll try it at sunrise!
There is so much we can’t control right now. Media limits are really important to keep our stress at a manageable level. Can you limit your media consumption to once or twice a day? I find radio easier to integrate than TV, as images tend to sear into my brain and scare me more. Pay attention to your own needs. Information is good. Constantly scaring your nervous system isn’t helpful for your health.
Preserve Social Connections
Physical distancing, rather than SOCIAL distancing, is the better way to describe the practice that is helpful to contain the spread of COVID-19. Because actually we NEED social connection and love and friendship. How does this work best for you? I have heard stories of virtual cocktail hours or even online dinner parties. Maybe it will come to that for me but for now I like to keep it simple: like texting friends and making voice memos. (Most of my friends are busy and we rarely catch each other on the phone. Rather than calling and leaving a voicemail, I like to simply record a quick voice note and text it over.) I also love going for a walk and talking on the phone with friends and family. I am also super grateful for our co-housing community. We sang to each other from our porches recently and are doing a lot of 6+ feet apart gardening, which is life-giving for us all. Trust whatever feels good to you and reach out to the people who nourish and shelter you emotionally.
DIY Immune Boosters
The three “S’s” above are foundational practices I am trying to keep my eye on right now: sleep, managing stress, and cultivating social connection. But there are simple things you can do to help your immune system. First a caveat. I’m not a doctor. You know that already. I am a holistic life coach and someone who has spent a lot of time studying and gathering simple techniques for exquisite self care. Never has that been more important. Here is what my family and I are doing on a regular basis:
Fresh air. Every day. Especially nature time or Vitamin N. At least a half hour. If we can get time in the sunshine and Vitamin D, even better. Gardening counts. Walking and observing the neighbor’s blooming cherry trees counts. A little bit of nature goes a long way.
Vitamin C. I take this every day along with a multi-vitamin and more if I’m feeling sick.
Herbal Supplements. The word on the street in the herbal + medical community is that mushrooms are a really helpful immune booster during this pandemic (Maitake and Cordyceps are two examples I have on hand.) I also take Astragalus every day as a preventative immune booster. Obviously with supplements you want to do your own research and talk to your health team. You can find these online or at a health food grocery store.
Herbal Tea. This is my FAVORITE. I should probably do a whole blog post just on this. This week I have been enjoying tulsi (holy basil) and nettle and chocolate mint tea. I have all of these growing fresh in pots or the garden (the nettle grows in the woods behind my house.) But you can find all of them online or at the store. Drink whatever herbal tea you enjoy. I like to brew a batch of tea with dinner and we drink it lukewarm with the meal or the next day.
Do Nothing Day. This tip I learned in the Peace Corps. Our doctors knew that we were going to be out in remote villages and many hours from medical care. They wanted us to take good care of ourselves so that little things didn’t become big. And they told us: “If you feel a touch sick or run down, stop.” Such simple advice but so different than the approach I had absorbed from our go-getter culture which seemed always to say the opposite – “if you feel run down, dig deep and press on!”
During my two years in the Peace Corps I tried out this suggestion. And it worked. Just one day in the hammock, truly resting and doing only the absolute minimum to have food and water for myself, was enough to see me to the other side of most illnesses. Rest gives your immune system the best chance of responding and restoring your equilibrium early in the trajectory of an illness, when things may be easier to nip in the bud.
This week when I had sinus pressure and a headache, I rested as best as I could with three kiddos home. (Thank goodness it is “Spring Break”😊) I enjoyed baths with Epsom salts and essential oils, which are also great for the immune system. I rub On Guard, an essential oil blend, on my feet most mornings and diffuse Wild Orange essential oil for anxiety or to boost the mood in the home and rub Geranium oil on my chest after a shower. It is a good tonic for the heart. Plus it smells like perfume. I think those little touches which make me feel feminine and at home in my body are worth a lot during this challenging time.
I hope these tips are helpful to you!
What are you finding to boost to your immune system?
I’d love to hear. Leave me a comment below!
Yours in frequent hand-washing and sending lots of love,
PS How can I help you flourish even in this challenging time?
Try my free guided meditation to balance your nervous system and boost immunity.
And if you find it hard to slow down even when you feel low energy, you may have some strong inner voices that push and drive you into action. I encourage you to read my book The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down + Accomplishing More. There is a lot of pressure in the air *and internet* right now to be productive at home. I don’t think any of us need more pressure right now. The book is full of mindbody tips and awareness practices, which help you diffuse internal pressure and clarify your priorities and let go of the rest.
I have space for one more private coaching client this month. I am ALL about people getting emotional and mental support right now. If you would like to learn more just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put *Coaching* in the subject line.
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