Much of the news about precautionary measures against the virus focus on washing your hands, using sanitizers, and physical distancing, but it often overlooks another important part of staying healthy – boosting your own immune system.
One way to strengthen the immune system is by managing any stressor or anxiety that may come up as we educate ourselves about the current situation. It may seem like something difficult to achieve but there are actually many things we can do to lower stress and give the immune system a boost.
Below you can find eight easy ways to ensure that both mind and body are best prepared to fight the virus if you come into contact with it.
1. Engage in meditation. As you may have noted already, meditation can do wonders for almost all matters related to health, and it’s no different in this case. Practicing mindfulness increases expressions of genes that are beneficial to the immune system. Meditation also supports our immune function by reversing our stress response and thus preventing stress hormones from compromising the effectiveness of our immunes cells.
2. Breathe. As we stressed in this recent story, the way we breathe is an essential part of bolstering our immune system. Some slow, belly breathing can calm the mind, which in turn strengthens the immune system. Try counting to 4 or 5 with each inhalation and exhalation to slow down your breathing. You’ll notice the effects right away!
3. Get good sleep. Sleep has been known to boost T-cells which help us fight disease, especially viral diseases. Get at least 7-8 hours of natural, restful sleep.
4. Eat well. Eating a healthy, organic, plant-based diet gives us the phytonutrients we need for healthy immune function. Plants are full of the healthy vitamins and micronutrients that keep our cells healthy, like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, zinc, and other trace elements needed to support immune cells.
5. Get regular exercise. Simple daily movement, such as walking, can keep your stress levels down, which in turn supports the immune system; however, if you are not feeling well, give your body the rest and try doing some gentle yoga instead to keep yourself moving and reduce stress.
5. Use social media mindfully. It’s important to stay informed, however checking the news every two minutes will only serve to put you on edge. Instead, when you get an urge to grab your device, try acknowledging the impulse and taking a deep inhale and exhale and repeating this simple mantra to restore peace and harmony: Shanti (shan tee).
6. Connect with loved ones. As schools shut down and people stop shaking hands, it’s important to maintain connections with those that we trust and love. The interpersonal connection has been shown to reduce stress and increase happiness. As much as possible check-in with those you love even if it’s just a video chat, call, or text.
7. Consider supplements. If you’re constantly on the move or don’t have access to fresh-cooked meals, supplements can help provide vitamins and minerals essential for a robust immune response. Additionally, many herbs are known to increase the activity of immune cells that help us fight infection and relieve symptoms in the case we do get ill. Such herbs include ashwagandha, amalaki, holy basil, echinacea, and elderberry.
8. Stay positive. Here at The Optimist Daily, staying positive is something we can’t recommend enough. Governments and scientists are hard at work to get us a vaccine and specific antiviral treatments for this virus. Until then basic preventative measures, and the immune-boosting activities detailed in this article, can help you feel empowered and less stressed during this time of uncertainty.