As the world’s scientists and leaders work to contain this new Coronavirus strain, develop a vaccine, and discover other treatments and measures, the Coronavirus outbreak is likely to continue to spread. There is a lot that is unknown at this point.
More people are feeling unsafe and experiencing a heightened stress level. As a health and wellness coach, I have received questions about how to prepare for the Coronavirus. Beyond washing our hands and avoiding crowds, what proactive steps can we take to minimize our risk?
We should make the best use of lifestyle strategies that can make us less susceptible to any illness including the Coronavirus. Focus on the following tips to help bolster immune response and lower stress levels:
Practicing good sleep habits can help get your slumber off to a better start, a deeper place, and a longer outcome. According to Harvard Medical School sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. An even bigger issue is chronic sleep loss. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, consistent loss of sleep can contribute to a decrease in the immune system’s power and lowers resilience toward invasive viruses.
What are the best tips to achieve the power of restful sleep?
Practice turning off all screens an hour before bed. Exercise and consume caffeinated drinks earlier in the day. Spend some quiet time, including meditation, reading, and deep breathing before bedtime. Aim for 7-8 hours a night of sleep.
Meditation And Mindful Awareness
Mindfulness practices bring the body into homeostasis and self-regulation by calming the body and mind. If you aren’t already practicing mindfulness, now is a great time to start!
This beginner’s guide to meditation from Yoga Journal covers a wide variety of topics related to meditation for beginners.
Move Your Body
“No matter what keep moving,” has been one of my mantras for years. It is essential to our health and wellbeing to move our bodies regularly.
Yoga teaches us that there are 72,000 energy channels, or pathways in the body that interact with the nervous system. Whenever one of these channels becomes blocked, dis-ease begins. Once cleared, the body can once again do its work of healing.
There are so many benefits to moving you body, including the movement of energy through your body. This results in enhanced mood and a healthier lymphatic system, which translates to a more robust immune system and healthier bones.
Whether you chose to take a stroll, dance, garden, stretch, practice yoga, work out with friends (a double positive,) the important thing is to get your whole body moving on a regular basis.
Focus on activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relax) instead of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) through deep breathing practices.
Our breath changes with emotions.
When we are anxious, the breath becomes shallow and rapid. When we actively change the rate of our breath, we can improve our mood state. We become more relaxed and invite the parasympathetic “rest and relax” mode to come. And with it comes a relaxation response facilitated by a release of chemical mediators.
Try this breathing practice to let go of stress and tension and find a more peaceful feeling.
Focus On Healthy Emotions and Connections
Emotional wellness inspires relaxation, self-care, and stress reduction while bolstering inner strength. It is no secret that people who are more positive are also more resilient. They can “bounce back” more quickly when bad things do happen.
Brighten your outlook by remembering to practice good deeds and gratitude. Spend time with other positive people in your life.
The more we can focus on supporting each other with love, compassion, and empathy, the better. Practice deep listening, positivity, and an attitude of caring. These are just a few ways of showing support for others.
Connect With Nature
We are all part of nature, but in our modern life, we have too often become disconnected. We can move from separation to connection by experiencing the many benefits of being in nature, including a feeling of calm and of connection to something larger than our selves.
Do you know which way your desk faces at work or at home?
Which way your bed faces? One way to connect with nature is to get a compass and look at it several times a day in different places. This practice can bring awareness to where you are in relation to the sun, the moon, and the earth.
Meditate outside, walk barefoot, and feel the pulse of the earth beneath your feet, or take your yoga practice outdoors. Consider taking a stroll outside without technology while being aware of your surroundings. Go out at sunrise or sunset and witness the beauty. Go out at night and gaze at the moon and stars. Better yet, do it with a friend or loved one.
A healthy, balanced diet plays a substantial role in wellness.
As I write this, I am having Dr. Weil’s Winter Immunity Bowl from True Food Kitchen. This awesome dish is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients to protect my immune system. I am drinking an “OG,” which is a drink filled with fresh-pressed ginger and honey. I feel healthier already!
When the immune system comes in contact with a pathogen, an immune response is triggered. Antibodies are released, which attach to the pathogens and kill them. Including specific foods in your diet may strengthen this immune response.
These health-giving foods include blueberries, dark chocolate, turmeric, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, ginger, garlic, green tea, red bell peppers, oranges and kiwi, kefir, mushrooms, and almonds.
Fresh and organic is best, but as with everything else in life, do the best you can.
Consider Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
According to Harvard Medical School, inflammation in the body plays a significant role in illness and immune function. Certain supplements are known for having properties that help control inflammation. If you feel drawn to supporting your body with anti-inflammatory agents, here are a few of the best known: turmeric, aloe vera, adaptogens like ashwagandha and shitake, fish oil, flax, ginger, and quercetin (one of my personal favorites.) Always check with your health care provider for guidance.
Microorganisms do not respect artificial boundaries. Quarantines are a good measure but do not ultimately stop a microorganism from spreading.
What else can we do?
What should we do? Stay calm and focus on enhancing individual immunity to protect yourself against the Coronavirus. Take what resonates with you from this list and implement it in your life.
It is important to believe that what you are doing is helping. This can invoke what is known as the “placebo effect.” A common theory is that the placebo effect is caused due to a person’s expectations. If a person expects that what they are doing will create a positive change, it’s possible that their body’s own chemistry can create similar effects.
The current Coronavirus situation reminds us of our collective interdependence and the need to work together to support each other.
In the end, we are indeed all one, and we are better together. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to keep enhancing the ecosystem of our bodies. Through sleep, exercise, breathing, nutrition, meditation, connection, anti-inflammatory supplements, and stress management, we can build on our immune strength and gain resilience for whatever comes our way including Coronavirus.
About the Author
Hope Knosher is the founder of Healthy Living With Hope and Hope’s Yoga. Based in Atlanta, Georgia she is a Certified E-RYT500 Yoga Teacher, Certified Health & Wellness Coach & Certified Yoga Therapist with the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
Hope and her work have been featured in numerous publications including Reader’s Choice “Best Of Atlanta” by Atlanta Magazine, one of Atlanta’s “Over 40 & Fabulous” by Best Self Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for her work with cancer survivors, MindBodyGreen, Noteworthy, Mantra Yoga & Health and cover features with Northside Woman and Yoga Magazine.
Check out Hope’s weekly yoga classes open to everyone in Johns Creek Georgia and also offers corporate yoga & meditation, wellness coaching and workshops. Hope is also a regular guest speaker on topics related to Yoga, Mindfulness, and Health & Wellness. Learn more about Hope.