Ah…these times we live in! We’re all feeling the stress in multiple ways. Many are stuck at home, trying to work a full day while taking care of children, homeschooling them, preparing meals, keeping up with household tasks…all while worrying about the pandemic and racism and police brutality and the state of politics and on and on.
I happen to be one of the more fortunate ones. I don’t have to leave the house very often. Our children are all grown and on their own. My immune system seems to be fairly resilient. Even so, I feel the stress from concerns about Covid-19, all the aforementioned issues, plus the welfare of our kids and grandkids and, well, the world in general.
The media has largely focused on external measures to slow or minimize the spread of this virus. You know them well by now. Wear masks! Stay physically distanced from anyone outside your own household. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Wipe down surfaces with sanitizing spray. Did I say, “Wear masks”?
While there mostly seems to be consensus about the effectiveness of physical distancing measures, I believe there needs to be more attention paid to strengthening our own immune system’s defenses. We do that by giving the immune system what it needs nutritionally and by dealing well with stress.
And stress can come in all kinds of ways you may not even be aware of. Sure, there’s the nervous system stress of mental and emotional challenges – worry, difficult relationships, anger, loneliness, fear, helplessness, and financial pressures.
There are also physical, chemical, and nutritional stresses we deal with – lack of sleep, lack of sunlight, insufficient or excessive exercise, alcohol, toxins from the environment or personal care products, and eating crap!
Ok, take a deep, slow breath…!
In fact, deep, slow breathing is one of the best ways to counteract stress. It helps put your nervous system in rest-and-digest mode, so it takes a load off the immune system. Try 4-7-8 breathing throughout the day, that is, inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Simple and effective.
Another really, really important thing to pay attention to is sleep. I don’t know about you, but when I feel particularly stressed, I have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. That’s not a good thing immune-wise.
During sleep, the body lowers stress hormones and clears the nervous system of toxins. The sleep chemical melatonin has antioxidant properties that can lessen the tissue damage that occurs with viral infections. All to say, sleep has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your immune system. Do not skimp on sleep!!
There are many things to consider for enhancing sleep, such as early morning light exposure, limiting screen time at night, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and paying attention to the environment in the bedroom.
Finally, drinking lemon water upon rising is a great detoxifier and alkalizer. It helps digestive strength, rehydrates the cells, and sends your body the message that you care. Lemons have the ability to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and help us feel calm.
These are just a few of the ways that help your immune system deal with stress. Staying as relaxed as possible and supporting all our body systems in the best manner we can helps us be better prepared for whatever challenges we face.
We’ll reap the long-term benefits of better health overall plus we’ll help everyone around us stay healthier too. Do all the things – external and internal – and we help the world.