What does the title of this article mean to you? We all have varied perceptions about how to interpret what is going on in the world today. We can control how much news to watch, who to listen to and what actions we can take to stay healthy. We realize that the status of our world and our lives as we know it have changed. In our present-day environment, the coronavirus has changed the world around us. It has been accompanied by widespread feelings of fear and an increased feeling of anxiety. Social distancing, for many, can bring on feelings of loneliness, isolation, and claustrophobia in ways that most of us may not have experienced before.
I asked my 85-year-old father if he has ever seen anything like this in his life-time and he has not. I have seen him twice, at his front door, only to drop off some home-cooked food in the last week. He is alone and of an age where he should remain even more distanced from others. As we stood on opposite sides of the door, both of us, who normally kiss and share a nice squeeze/hug, could not get the benefit of those endorphins (the feel-good hormones), we have always taken for granted.
I fully believe there are things we can now do for ourselves, our family and our friends to strengthen our immune systems, our sense of community as well as achieve better mental health. We can shift our mindset to a current new normal. Given that we our homebound now, we can refrain from using the word “QUARANTINE” and start using the word “COCOONING”. Thanks to Fabienne Fredrickson of Boldheart Business for this idea. Our mental and physical health will benefit from a mindset shift. It takes us away from fear and moves us toward finding the ”BLESSINGS” that this time at home gives us.
Here are some tried and true ideas that you can focus on now! Give yourself a gift of this “blessing of time” that you now have, to focus on better ways of thriving. You will emerge stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually once you are permitted to go back into the life and lifestyle you only took for granted! It will feel like spring. You will stand taller, your shoulders will go back, your lungs will fill and your chest will expand. This alone should inspire you to create changes in your life for the better and for your overall well-being.
Priority #1: Get More Movement Daily
Exercise… please! We all need to move our bodies. As children, we ran around on the playground and joyfully moved our bodies! As we have gotten older, our lifestyles have shifted due to work, household, family obligations, etc. Studies have shown that exercise improves mental health. It helps the body’s immune system, our brain chemicals function better, releases pent up energy, aides in better sleep and reduces overall anxiety.
If you do not have exercise equipment at home there are programs such as Peloton for yoga, outdoor running & walking, stretching and HIIT classes. They even have meditation. Find ways to include a daily movement practice. The Club Pilates community where I teach is offering online Pilates classes. There are many ways you can remain active while at home.
Priority #2: More Home Cooked (Anti-Inflammatory) Meals
Many of my clients increase the frequency of home cooked foods when we begin working together. They often begin with a modified food elimination diet to see how much better they can feel removing inflammatory foods and drinks that have caused long standing symptoms.
Some choose to do the Whole30. It is a great anti-inflammatory plan. Now more than ever, we need to strengthen our immune systems by lowering or removing added sugars and processed foods from our diets. Work toward shifting your healthy eating perspective from famine and deprivation to utilizing this time to clean up your act. You can let go of prior excuses such as socializing for work or other events that would have included indulgences.
Now is a good time for you to choose to focus on healing your body keeping your immune system strong. You may consider removing inflammatory foods for a time period, such as gluten, dairy, alcohol, refined sugars, corn, soy and for some people eggs. Then see how you feel.
Priority #3: Take Targeted Immune Building Supplements
Here are 12 highly recommended supplements/herbs that can boost your immune system. Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, B-Complex, Magnesium, Selenium, Tumeric/ Curcumin, Elderberry, Echinacea, Oil of Oregano, Garlic, Colloidal Silver and Coconut Oil. (Please note that my next blog post will give more detailed information on what each of these supplements/herbs may do for you.) These supplements and herbs may help you with immunity, but they will not replace what maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, and not smoking will do. These are some of the most important ways to help keep your immune system healthy and reduce your chances of infection and disease.
Priority #4: Remove or Greatly Reduce Refined Sugar & Alcohol
Given the nature and status of our current world news with Covid-19 lurking in our communities and being homebound, we should concentrate now, more than ever, on keeping our immune systems strong.
It may feel like the easiest way to manage stress is by pouring yourself a glass of wine or reaching for a sweet treat. Both refined sugar and alcohol can weaken the body’s ability to respond to stress and it suppresses the immune system. When your immune system is weakened, you are more susceptible to getting ill. Swap out the sweets with fruit and replace your alcohol and sweet drinks with a low sugar Kombucha or a little cranberry juice mixed with plain seltzer. Use your imagination and place your drink it in a wine glass if you want the feeling of having a cocktail.
Priority #5: Prioritize Getting Enough Sleep
Before this pandemic, most of us have been living our lives with packed schedules. Take this opportunity, this time, to prioritize sleep during this “cocooning” period spent at home. It will help your body to heal and refresh. Our bodies detoxify and run best when we get enough sleep. Changing our daily living routine to include more down regulation time at night is also helpful to getting the best rest possible. Here are some nightly ritual suggestions that you could choose to implement: Take a Magnesium drink such as Calm or Nighty Night Tea from Celestial Seasonings, or try the chill gummy from Evolution-18. Take a lavender Epsom salt bath, do some yoga, turn off all electronic devices an hour before bed, and do some gentle stretches or use The Roll Model Method therapy balls for self-massage. Include some or all of these ideas several times a week.
Priority #6: Develop a Meditation Practice
Have you had meditation on your to do list for a very long time? Or have you downloaded the Headspace App, but not implemented it in your life? Take this extra time that you have today and start small. Just start with 5 minutes each morning, as it will help begin your day with a positive start. Research shows that meditation improves mood, reduces anxiety, lowers cortisol and decreases inflammation.
Specifically, deep belly breathing stimulates the vagus nerve and turns on the parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system which helps to lower your heart rate and reduce anxiety. There are several meditation apps that can help guide your new practice—such as Calm, Headspace, or 10% Happier.
Priority #7: Stay Connected
We can find ways to be more connected even while at home. There are creative ways for you not to feel lonely. We do not have to feel socially isolated given the access we have to platforms such as FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Duo, etc. I’ve had “Happy Hour” with my high school friends these past few Thursdays. I also scheduled a dinner on Zoom with my Dad, husband, 2 sons and daughter. It was really fun and made us feel closer. The Pilates studio where I teach is hosting online mat classes. Some of us hang out and chat afterwards which makes our community feel stronger. So, use your resources to stay in touch and feed your need for human connections, even though it currently has to be virtual.
I hope you will implement some of these ideas. I wish you and your family health, wellness, love, communication, connection and peace.
In Vibrant Health,