As we all adjust to the ways in which our lives have changed this past week, some of the biggest concerns surrounding the CO-VID pandemic are staying healthy and positive while boosting immunity.
Chronic stress takes a toll on the immune system, which right now we need to keep strong for ourselves and for others. Chronic stress releases the hormone cortisol, which over a prolonged period of time causes inflammation, impacts our metabolism and massively detracts from our sleep - all of which can compromise the immune system. But managing stress is also easier said than done. So here are a few stress-busting focal points that we can use to empower us through this difficult and worrisome time.
1. Sleep Comes First
A good night’s sleep might possibly be the one most powerful thing for settling the mind, providing a sense of calm and improving immune responses. Researchers from Germany have found that quality sleep improves the health of a set of immune cells known as T cells. T cells help to fight off cells that are infected with viruses, such as flu, HIV, and herpes. They even have an impact on cancer cells. It's safe to assume that healthier T cells = a healthier immune response.
How to get a better night’s sleep? Yes, you guessed it… put the phone away. Stop reading the NY Times for the latest C-19 updates, and instead read a novel to take your mind off of things. If you are super competitive and like to get scores, you might consider investing in an Oura Ring. It tracks your sleep, different stages of your sleep and gives you an overall efficiency score and absolute score in the morning! Who doesn’t like to get a score in the 90s?
2. Keep it Moving
Physical and mental health go hand in hand, so why not these nail two things in one go? If you are working from home, you could look into a streaming subscription. I have recently fallen in love with everything Peloton. For a minimal monthly charge, you can stream tons of content including core strengthening, yoga and even meditation (and sleep classes) - over and beyond their bike and treadmill suggestions. Ten minutes of core exercises along with a brisk walk while listening to your favorite playlist or podcast will have you feeling great. And if we are going to be cooped up for days, why not work on getting those abs ready for the summer?
3. Eat Your Veggies
Yes, you knew that was coming, didn’t you? It’s true, though. A whole food, plant-based diet has been clinically proven to reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. When we fill our plates with leafy greens, veggies, whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds we have less room for the highly processed and sugary foods. The result is stronger, healthier cells and an improved sense of wellbeing.
The Takeaway: go easy on yourself. While it’s tempting to crack open yet another bottle of wine or dig into sugary bites, look after your body instead. Take this opportunity to sleep well, get some daily exercise - 20 mins is a great start - and eat your veggies! This too shall pass and we are all in this together. 💪