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5 Practical Ways to Optimize Your Immune System Right Now

Are you healthy enough that should you contract a cold or flu virus, you are sure to bounce back quickly? According to the World Health Organization, the definition of health is not only being free of disease, but also includes one’s ability to bounce back from illness.

It is flu season again. Given we have added concerns with SarsCoV2, we must wash our hands often, practice physical distancing. Cover your mouth with tissue when sneezing and coughing, or use your elbow to block the spray. Try not to touch your face. Wear a mask in public places where you cannot physically distance from strangers. Masks do not protest you, but it protects others from you in case you are carrying the virus and not showing symptoms. Stay calm and stay safe.

You are doing all that, and you may be asking: “What else can I do to protect myself?”

The immune system is a complex system of cells, antibodies and organs that work together to protect the body. This is a good time to focus on lifestyle choices that create a good foundation for our body, so we have a well functioning immune system and the best fighting chance against diseases.

1. Sleep

Sleep is the first thing we give up when we get busy, because well, isn’t sleep just a waste of time?

Science and research have proven sleep to be extremely important for the human brain and body functions, including your immune system. Your immune system is not dormant and sitting there waiting for bacteria or virus to arrive at the door before going into action. It’s an active system that is working all the time. If not treated well, your immune system will either not respond immediately when needed, or it may go into overdrive and start attacking your own cells, creating autoimmune diseases.

Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Sleep as if your life depended on it. And it does. If you are too busy to sleep, reprioritize your to do list. Place your own health above all else. After all, you are no good to anyone if you are not in a good space.

2. De-stress

“I am so stressed I can’t sleep at night!” I get it! Pandemic, outbreak, quarantine, PPE shortage, job loss, business closures, finances, deaths...these are the words we hear continuously amidst the COVID-19 uncertainty. If you are an essential worker, you are likely more stressed having to face a barrage of strangers daily.

Yet stress and anxiety have been proven to make you more likely to catch a cold or become ill. Reducing stress isn’t just good for your mental health, it’s also good for your immune system. Right now, de-stressing is not optional.

To avoid unnecessary stress, avoid watching the news first thing in the morning. Instead, have a morning routine that helps you to get grounded and feel like you’ve taken care of yourself first. I turn to gentle yoga, meditation, and a BEMER session (If you haven’t heard of BEMER, please look it up here).

Some days having a morning ritual means having to wake up earlier than usual to accommodate yourself. But you are so worth it! Especially knowing this will help the rest of the day flow smoothly, less stressful.

What else can you do to destress? Spend time with your pet if you have one, connect with your family and friends in person if you are in the same house, or online. Walk around your neighbourhood minding the 2-meter physical distancing. Sometimes just a bit of fresh air outside releases stress. If you are interested in meditation, check out this app: Insight Timer.

3. Exercise