There was a time I would catch a cold just thinking about it. I remember the day my friend said ‘I feel like you’re always sick.’ What a compliment. What a friend. Thanks.
But perhaps it was this exaggerated observation that propelled me into taking a deeper look at all the habits, stressors and lifestyle choices that were weighing heavy on my immune system. I’ll never admit that to her though.
There are a few simple tricks you can easily apply to your lifestyle that will support you in banking your sick days and saving them for times that you really need them. Hello, Monday post bestie’s bachelorette weekend.
I know, I strongly dislike when people casually throw it out there. ‘Just stop stressing so much.’
And…..release the f-bombs.
Unfortunately, stress plays a major role in our immune system. When we’re in a state of stress, our stress hormone, cortisol, kicks into overdrive suppressing our immune system making it difficult to fight off antigens.
Reducing the stressors in your life takes time. A first and major step is being able to recognize when you’re feeling stressed and having the right tools to address it like the ones you’ll so conveniently find below.
-When feeling overwhelmed or stress, give yourself just a simple 2 minutes to close your eyes and breathe. Set a timer so you won’t fear going over your time. Start to breathe deep in your belly, in through the nose out through the mouth. You can do this anywhere! Even sitting in traffic, practice it! With your eyes open of course. I think I just need to put that for legal reasons. I know you’re smart enough to know to close your eyes while in traffic is a terrible idea.
-Write it out. What are you stressed about? Write down a list of the items that need to get done in the order of most urgent to least. Writing them out will allow you to put things into perspective. In our heads, it’s always much much worse.
-Friends, family, in-laws, coworkers, taxi drivers causing your stress? Make the choice to not let it affect you. No one causes you stress. Read that again. YOU have the choice of whether or not you’re affected by it. Whether or not you choose to let them interfere with your energy. So put your hand up and say ‘Beeeesh don’t kill my vibe’ and walk away.
–Find a safe outlet. What does this look like for you? Running a bath, going hard at the gym, meditating, yoga, however, you feel will truly allow you to drop your shoulders and relax, do it. Schedule it like an important business meeting because your health and well being IS important! And don’t you forget it.
Move the body
Exercise doesn’t just help relieve stress and anxiety, it also supports our immune system! Sorry couch potatoes, just one more reason why you should get that tush moving!
We all know the feeling, when we start to exercise our hearts start beating a little faster, we begin to breathe deeper and our mood picks up as we start to sweat. But did you know that this act of deep breathing, perspiration and increase of dopamine all support strengthening our immune system?
As our heart rate increases, so does our circulation. We breathe in fresh oxygen that our heart pumps throughout our body and we flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways through our exhale.
This increased circulation stimulated by exercise (cardiovascular system) also enhances the circulation of our lymphatic system. This allows the lymphatic system to carry immune cells throughout our body to help defend against antigens and infections.
“If your lymphatic circulation slows or stagnates, toxins will accumulate and immune cells won’t be delivered to the areas of the body where they’re needed, causing a variety of ailments, the very least of which are aches, pains, and swelling (lymph edema). This can also cause deterioration of your thymus gland, tonsils, and spleen – key components of your immune system — and weaken your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.”
Don’t have access to gyms or fitness classes? -No problem at all!
Biking, walking, running, and yoga is all great options to contribute to getting your daily dose of exercise!
There are many at home with no equipment workouts you can do! I’ve posted a few of my favs below. Click the photo to go to the workout.
One of the most important and underlooked immune supporters. I truly believe in this day and age, we don’t put enough priority on sleep. The message that you need to grind in order to make it in this world is repeatedly splattered across social media. But how can you put in your best effort and focus when you’re feeling down and out? Longevity is key here and the biggest factor that can support that is…you guessed it. Getting quality Zzzzz’s.
“During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. We put our body’s under so much stress on the daily, it is so important to allow ourselves to rest, recover and recuperate so we can stay strong and do our thang!!
Someone once told me that sleep is like sex. Yes. You read that right. In order for a good ‘session’ one must ease into it. Makes sense. Well for everyone who isn’t an 18-year-old hormone-driven boy. They too shall learn.
Here are 5 sleep foreplay tips to help you sleep more soundly
- Refrain from any screens at least 30-40 minutes before bed.
-I know this isn’t always possible. Deadlines, big projects, presentations, and other important business lingo has its purposes and sometimes, we can’t help it. However, if you are staying up late to work off of a screen, please allow yourself even 5-10 minutes of reading, meditating or stretching before hitting the hay. This will allow you to calm the mind and fall into a deeper sleep faster.
-If you’re up late watching TV then you have no excuse and can turn to any activity listed in the following points.
2. Yoga, stretching and deep breathing
Doing a 10-minute at-home yoga video, meditating or stretching while performing deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to calm the mind before heading to bed. Stretching and yoga allow us to release tension within our bodies we tend to build up and hold onto throughout the day. Plus it helps with flexibility and performance paired with deeper sleep which also promotes weight loss and looky here, we have ourselves a win-win!
3. Essential oils
Friends…I am OBSESSED with essential oils before I go to bed and first thing in the morning. Best way to start and end your day I say! I use a diffuser beside my bed with a sleep blend like this one paired with Saje’s sleep spray and I am out like a light. End of story.
Because of the way I am wired, there are some weeks that even when implementing all these practices, I can find myself waking up with a busy brain. Magnesium has been a godsend. I wrote a full blog on it here.
It supports muscle recovery, full-body relaxation, digestion, metabolism of carbohydrates and so much more. My go-to magnesium product is Organika’s ‘Soothe’ watermelon lime-flavored pre bedtime powder and Natural Vitality’s CALM
5. Have a bath and/or journal
Toss some Epsom salts into a warm tub with a cup of herbal tea or magnesium and some good tunes and you’ve got your sleep a pre-deep sleep part-ay!
Don’t have a tub? No worries, turn to journal to allow yourself to tap into your creative outlet! We all have one! That can look like writing 5-10 things you’re grateful for, drawing/sketching, writing down your goals, thoughts, or reflections. The beautiful thing about your journal is it’s yours. It carries no judgment and you can do, say, write whatever you want with no repercussions! How often do we get to do that?!
A huge portion of our immune system lies in our Gastrointestinal tract. 70% mindbodygreen.com states. Makes you think twice about eating empty-calorie fast food huh?
When we’re healthy, we have a strong intestinal lining, only allowing small particles of food to pass through. When we have too many acidic foods or rely on a Standard American Diet, it can result in small holes (also known as leaky gut) in the lining which allows large food particles to pass through. This causes immune reactions within our bodies putting further stress on our immune system.
Since the balance of bacteria in our gut influences the balance of our immune system, an unbalanced bacterial flora with for instance too many opportunistic pathogens can shift the immune system to an increased inflammatory state with a so-called “leaky gut”. This inflammatory state may then affect other body systems and increase the risk of obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes and even depression.
The top 5 foods that support gut health and immunity:
Probiotic (supplement) and/or probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.
Apple cider vinegar
Fiber-rich foods: flaxseed, legumes, leafy greens
Chara’s Immunity Shot
- 1/2 orange peeled
- 1 lemon peeled
- 1 '' piece fresh ginger
- 1/2 '' fresh piece turmeric
- 3-4 drops oregano oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vineger unfiltered
- 1/2 tbsp honey raw organic
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch cayenne
- Place lemon, ginger, turmeric and orange into a juicer or blender.
- If using a blender, strain pulp through a cheese cloth
- Add oil of oregano, honey, pepper, cayenne and apple cider vinegar. Mix well.
- Pour into shot glass and shoot back.
- Store remaining liquid in airtight container. Take 1-2x day for 2-3 days.
The Magic of Nature- Bringing It All Together
It reduces stress, promotes the production of vitamin D and white blood cells (which help fight off antigens), supports your natural circadian rhythm promoting better sleep, and boosts mood, all of which support strengthening our immune system. AND it’s free!
Yes, the outdoors can do all of this and more for us. If you have access, try to spend a minimum of 10-15 minutes outside in the direct sunlight if possible.
Every day like clockwork, I go for a minimum 15-minute walk in the morning and 15-minute walk in the evening, one routine I feel has played a major role in increasing my immunity! So get out there partner! Go breathe that fresh air for all that it’s good for.
Better vitamin D production because of more sunlight is already good for your immune system. But the outdoors seems to help in other ways. Many plants put substances, including organic compounds called phytoncides, into the air that seem to boost immune function. Sunlight also seems to energize special cells in your immune system called T cells that help fight infection
In a nutshell
- -Decrease stress as much as possible
- -Move the body
- -Prioritize sleep
- -Eat gut and immune-supporting foods
- -Get outside and into the fresh air when possible’
Have questions on anything above?
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org