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Staying well and strenthening your immune system

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

With all the uncertainty, stress and anxiety (that is an understandable effect from the extraordinary times we are living in at the moment), it is understandable that we feel we have less time to look after ourselves as we try to cope with and adjust to all the changes in our lives. We need simple, easily applied strategies that will give us back control over the one area we can influence: our own health and immunity.

The first obvious step is to adhere to all the government guidelines on social distancing, hand washing and good hygeine (which we are all hopefully following).

Then we can look at areas in our daily lives where we can make small changes which all together add up to having a very positive impact on our health and wellbeing.

Don't be overwhelmed, pick from the tips below that will work best for you.

Hydrate: include more water, herbal teas, broths and fresh vegetable juices as well as water rich foods such as soups, stews, fruit and vegetables.

Starting your day with a glass of warm water and a twist of fresh lemon is ideal for this time of year. 

Sleep: now is not the time to stay up late watching the stressful news at 10, but to double up on your relaxing pre-bed routine including meditation, relaxing music, yoga or Qigong and turning off devices an hour before sleep to allow time to winddown.

Aim for 7-8 hours sleep but don't stress if it doesn't happen every night. We all have a lot to adjust to and need time and space to regain our equilibrium. 

Try to time your walks for the morning as this is the best time to help reset your body clock.

Review your day and write down any things that you didn't manage to accomplish but need to do the following day so you are not planning your day or processing your day during your sleep (or awake at night doing it!)

Try to keep to a normal sleep/wake rhythm (even if working at home) and go to bed at a regular time, preferably before 11 to take advantage of the best healing time for the body which is before 12am.

Clearing Stress and Anxiety: following on from the suggestions above, reconnect in any way you can with nature, whether it is tending to a beautiful plant, walking in the park or gardening. Below is a visitor in our garden!

Connect with loved ones. According to Chinese medicine principles our spirit resides in the heart and one of the best ways to keep the heart energy flowing and open is through the love we give and receive from our friends and family. The emotion associated with the heart is joy. Find something (no matter how small) that brings you joy every day.

Diet: take the time to prepare food and minimise refined processed foods and sugar. Avoid cold and frozen food, and emphasise foods that are warming in temperature and energetics.

Ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, oregano are just a few of the many medicinal spices that improve your immune system. Star anise is a real star as it has anti viral properties. I make my own tea concoction every morning with star anise and elderberries which is delicious. But it is also great in soups etc.

If you are someone with a lot of internal heat (red face, feeling hot even if it isn't a hot day) easily angered, a very red tongue, go easy on the 'hot' foods like ginger, garlic, onions, chilies etc but still stay with foods that are room temperature as too much cold food can weaken the digestion.

Limit dairy foods, bananas, concentrated juices like orange and tomato and fried foods to avoid build up of mucus in the lungs.

Limit dairy foods, bananas, concentrated juices like orange and tomato and fried foods to avoid build up of mucus in the lungs.

In general, if feeling overwhelmed, pick one or two things at a time to work on. When I am seeing patients face to face I never flood them with suggestions but build up their new healthy habits step by step. You can make your own health plan, looking at all the areas, seeing where you are on top of things and where there is room for improvement.

l look forward to hearing from you and finding out what you are doing to stay sane, healthy and on top of things in this very strange new world we are living in at present.

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