6 Ways to Boost Your Immunity & Maintain Mental Wellbeing
We are in the midst of a very difficult and uncertain time, with many people living in fear & In-security around the current COVID-19 crisis, which threatens not only our physical wellbeing but also our mental wellbeing.
With many people losing their jobs and even homes and living in states of constant fear around their personal security and that of their loved ones, while others, like me are in self Isolation, lacking connection with nature and human contact.
In times like this it is more important than ever to look after your health, and mental wellbeing and there are many simple and effective things you can do to help relieve tension and support your health at this time.
Here are 6 simple ways to boost your immunity and maintain your sanity in these stressful times.
Sounds simple I know but breath is the most powerful way to regenerate cells, boost immunity and lower stress and anxiety levels. It costs nothing and is available to us at any time, it really is a gift.
For me personally I have 2 favourite Pranayama Practices (breathing practices) that I turn to when I need some calm or to lead me into meditation. They are proven to lower stress levels, boost your immunity and will leave you in a state of absolute bliss and balance.
1. Nadi Shodana
This practice balances both the left and right hemispheres of your brain, improves your ability to focus, supports lung and respiratory function, rejuvenates the nervous system, removes toxins and reduces stress. Who wouldn't want this in their life?
There are many videos on youtube demonstrating this practice that you can follow, you might like to check out this one on Art of Living.
Practice for 3-6mins or 10 rounds and notice how you feel.
2. Deep belly breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing has many benefits and is the centre of most meditation techniques. Use this breath to reset your nervous system, reducing stress and aiding insomnia, strengthen your lungs and circulate healing oxygen throughout the body.
Diaphragm breathing basics
- Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat on the floor, your bed, or on any comfortable, flat surface.
- Relax your shoulders.
- Place a hand on your chest and one hand on your belly.
- Breathe in through your nose for around 2-4 seconds. follow the breath with your mind all the way to your belly, feel it expand beneath your hand.
- Exhale again through the nose for around 4-8 second or around twice the length of your inhale, this turns on your Parasympathetic Nervous system, which controls your rest, relax, and digest response. When the parasympathetic system is dominant, your breathing slows, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers, and your body is guided back into a state of calm and healing.
- Repeat these steps several times for best results and notice how the quality of your breath improves with each cycle.
Lack of sleep is proven to actually suppress our Immune systems, which is why getting a full 7-9hrs sleep is essential for your health. When we sleep our bodies repair and regenerate, healing our cells, detoxifying our organs, and allowing our nervous systems to rest.
So to maximise your bodies regenerative function, and give your immune system a boost have a nap wherever possible and try getting to bed an hour earlier than normal each night.
To ensure a dreamy slumber, switch of your screens early, take a warm shower or bath and use some lavender oil in your bath or on the soles of your feet.
If your normally a night owl like me I find going to bed early and reading till I'm sleepy a great way to move my bedtime a little earlier. Or you could try one of the breathing practices above to send you into a calm and restful state before bed.
Often we are so used to dealing with stress that we don't even realise how much anxiety we are carrying.
Which is why emptying your mind and subconscious is a great way to get in touch with and release those feelings.
Try keeping a notebook next to your bed and taking 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning to write whatever your hand wants to, try not to think about it too much or edit whats coming out, instead just allow it to come. With time and practice you will be surprised how many feelings you unearth and are able to get clarity around.
They say that the morning is the best time to journal as at this time we are only just out of the dream state, which means we have the best access to our subconscious mind at that time.
Personally this has done wonders for my anxiety and really helped me to get clear on what i am really wanting or needing in my life or what is the best course of action for me to take in certain challenges.
4. Move your Body
It's no secret that exercise is good for your health, but did you know that we need to move our body in order for our Lymphatic system to function. The Lymphatic system plays an integral role in the immune functions of the body and is the first line of defence against disease.
Moving your body and lymphatics everyday, will boost your immunity as well as improve your mood and Sleep cycles.
Movement does not need to be extreme by any means, gentle yoga and walking or swimming is enough to get your lymphatics moving and boost your health and vitality.
I practice and always recommend implementing a daily practice of Salute to the Sun or "Surya Namaskar", which is a gentle and easy yoga routine that actually works every muscle and organ in your body, there are countless videos on youtube you can follow for all levels of ability.
You can find more info on Surya Namaskar here on Art of Living.
5. Eat Functional Foods
There are many everyday foods most of us keep in our fridges and pantry that are relatively inexpensive, immune boosting and easy to include into our everyday diets.
Some of the most common and powerful healing and regenerative foods include, Lemon, Ginger, Apple Cider Vinegar, as well as healthy fats such as nuts, Avocado's and seeds. Leafy greens are powerful regenerators and most fruits are high in immune boosting vitamins.
By including some of these foods every day you will be boosting your immunity against any unwanted disease.
For me at the moment I'm sipping on ginger tea most of the day, made by just slicing fresh ginger into my cup and adding boiling water. It makes a lovely stimulating tea in the morning and ginger is so so so good at fighting off all those nasty bugs. You can add some raw honey to sweeten and add to its health giving properties or coconut sugar is a great sweetener option for vegans that also contains many minerals.
Fermented foods are also a great functional food to add to your diet, as they help to re-populate your gut with the good bacteria that you'll need to fight of the bad ones. Try introducing some Kim Chi or Saurkraut into your diet or if those make you screw up your nose, you could give kombucha a try.
6. Essential Oils
Essential Oils are all round hero's when it comes to promoting physical and mental wellbeing.
Oils such as Lemon, Orange, Clove and Eucalyptus all have natural anti-microbial properties and make excellent natural alternatives to chemical household cleaners.
My favourite for cleaning is the On Guard essential oil blend from Doterra, I add 10 drops to a spray bottle of water, it is safe to use and disinfects all surfaces and leaves my home smelling so nice and can also be used as a natural hand Sanitiser.
While oils such as Lavender, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Clary Sage, Fir, and Cedarwood are all powerful relaxants helping to ground and soothe the mind and support emotional wellbeing.
There are so many oils with so many health benefits not mentioned here but if you can only get one, I say get Lavender, it really is the queen of all oils in my opinion.
I like to diffuse oils around my home, or add them to my bath or the soles of my feet at bedtime.
You can check out our range of Doterra oils here