From a young child I remember my mother telling me “every cloud has a silver lining.” When I apply it to this situation with COVID-19, like many of you I can see some of the positive aspects it’s bringing to our consciousness. In my view, as a Natural Health Practitioner one of those is the “spotlight” on our health and wellbeing, in particular the strength of our Immune System.
Quite simply a healthy immune system lives in a healthy body. The two go together. Much of our immunity lives in the gut, so what we eat is crucial to developing good immunity. But it doesn’t stop there. Science has many times proven that our mental, emotional and spiritual health all affect our physical health and therefore our immunity.
There are many ways to strengthen our immunity… here are a few to get you started. The invitation is to pick up what you like doing and begin there. If you take on just one of these practices, you will be strengthening yourself mind, body, emotions and spirit. For essentially, they all affect one another.
Positivity: Having a positive mind-set is known to increase your immunity. Negative thinking or feeling depressed will lower your immune defences. Tapping the thymus each morning with a positive statement can set your positive mind-set for the day… see my video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8v2r7Kh7Z4&t=10s
Feeling good: How we feel makes all the difference to your immune system. feeling good is know to boost immunity whilst fear or worry reduces it. Start and finish the day with 3 appreciations to set your emotional frequency. Here’s three I made this morning:
1 “I’m thankful for all my training and experience in Natural Health which enables me to take care of myself whilst helping others.”
2 “I love my body and I give myself lots of nutrition rich foods to nourish me.
3 ”I love my community and all the new friendships I’m making whilst being at home”
Movement: This is key to a healthy immune system; unlike our blood which has a heart to pump it around the body, the fluid in our immune system, the lymph, moves through the body with muscular movement.
Thus, all movement is great. Do whatever you love: walking, hiking, running, dancing, rebounding, weights, yoga, tai-chi etc. Exercise will move your body to detox and boost your immunity.
Food: Food is often a comfort in times of stress and uncertainty so I first suggest being kind with yourself: if you are comforted by certain foods it may nourish you to have them at this time. The way I see it is to aim for balance by eating health giving foods too ; so if you’re eating “junk foods” or drinking alcohol or coffee, then balance this with plenty of green vegetables (detoxifying) meat and fish (if you eat them), otherwise vegetable protein. Eat plenty of roughage too with root vegetables grains and pulses. Drink plenty of water; 2 – 3 litres per day is recommended.
Our immunity thrives in a healthy gut. To cultivate a healthy gut, we need to encourage a healthy microbiota (the bacteria in the gut).
We need lots of vegetable content and wholefoods as a pre-biotic, this breaks down into fibre to help move material through the gut and ferments in the gut, creating the perfect environment for our microbiota to flourish. We can help this process by eating some fermented foods too, as a probiotic to directly feed our gut microbiota.
Passion and Connection: Having motivation for life or passion for living has a very positive effect on our immune system. So, it’s important to keep your spirits up. I suggest doing more of what you love; that which makes your heart sing; walking or some other exercise, drawing, knitting, sewing, gardening…. whatever you enjoy. Find an interesting project or busy yourself with house cleansing or renovating.
Keep in-touch with friends and family; this may be particularly important if you live alone or are self- isolating.… make sure you have regular connection with others. Sharing is what we do. It makes us feel loved and gives us a sense of belonging.
Breath: Translated as “life lengthening”, pranayama is said to cultivate healthy longevity. Enhancing the breath; nourishes and heals the lungs, sends vital energy and oxygen around the body and thus is deeply healing. It also raises the spirit and thus your immunity.
Pranayama can be done standing, sitting, or lying. You might start with a simple lengthening of the breath. Aim for a count of 5 on both the in breath and the out breath.
Sometimes I take pranayama out into life with me… on a gentle walk or if I’m in a queue, whilst driving etc. During illness pranayama can be a great resource; you can do it in bed when resting. It will help you detox the illness whilst relaxing and energising your body, mind and spirit.