Maintaining a healthy body and immune system is a complex process that includes maintaining proper rest, staying hydrated, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and managing stress. Taking control of these 5 areas of your health can feel like a tall order during a global pandemic, but it’s more important now than ever to take small steps each day to care for your body and build a strong immune system.
Boosting your immune system is complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by choosing one area of your health to focus on, like ensuring you get proper sleep each night. Once you’ve established a solid sleep routine, try focusing on another, like making sure to drink enough water or developing a mindfulness practice to help stave off feelings of chronic stress and fatigue. The more you focus on what you can control in your life, the less the stress of the outside world will loom over you each day.
Here are simple steps to help you boost your immune system during stressful times.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will go a long way to ensure your body receives the micronutrients it needs to build and maintain a strong immune system. Maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t have to be perfect, though. If making major dietary changes feels impossible during the pandemic, try starting small. Eliminate fast food or commit to eating one vegetable at each meal. Even small changes to your nutritional intake will make a difference.
Regular exercise is shown to help improve circulation, cardiovascular health and stimulate your immune system, even with just 30 minutes a day. If working up to 30 minutes feels like a challenge to you, start small with one ten minute walk or bike ride a day. Ultimately, exercise doesn’t have to be limited to walking, running or high intensity workouts. Deep cleaning your home, taking a long bike ride through your neighborhood, taking the stairs and leisurely dog walks all add up to regular movement.
Get Your Zs
Getting consistent sleep is one of the most important ways to help ensure your immune system is strong. Research shows that those who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to illness and chronic stress. While not everyone needs the same amount of sleep each night, it’s important for you to determine what your sweet sleep spot is, and to stick to it. If falling asleep is challenging for you, try starting the process earlier each evening. Turn off all devices an hour before bedtime, take a lavender bath before you tuck in and consider using white noise or diffusers to help settle your senses for a good night of sleep.
We know it might sound silly, but staying hydrated is an important tool in maintaining a strong and healthy immune system. When your body becomes dehydrated, it slows down your lymphatic system, which works to move infection-fighting cells and immune support through your body. Even if you aren’t sweating regularly, your body is constantly losing water that needs to be replaced to help you stave off infection and fight disease.
During stressful times, it’s important to find ways to stay present and focus on what you can control. Managing stress can be extra challenging during a pandemic, but developing a mindfulness and breathing practice is always available and can be done from home. Consider downloading a meditation app to help you get started, like Calm or Headspace, and begin by practicing for 5 minutes a day. Mindfulness and conscious breathing are proven to help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping your body to feel safe and secure. It can reduce feelings of anxiety and help your body to leave “fight or flight” mode, so it can shore up the energy it needs to help you maintain a strong immune system.