#4: Up Your Game - Taking Better Care of Yourself Physically
In the face of Covid-19 and its consequences, one of two things will happen to each of us. Either we'll get more isolated, depressed, anxious, and unproductive. Or - we'll use this time wisely to get stronger, happier, healthier, more creative, and more connected with ourselves and others.
We can fight back against this crisis - not just by washing our hands, hoarding toilet paper, staying away from each other, and anxiously watching the news for scary updates. Rather, we can take sensible precautions and make wise preparations - while simultaneously using this time off to build family connections, expand faith - AND - to expand our physical immunity, improving our physical health and strength.
You've heard it over and over on the news. Covid-19 is most dangerous for those who are elderly and frail, or for those with already-compromised immune systems. So - one of the best things you can do for yourself and others in the face of this crisis is - get yourself stronger and healthier! Intentionally build your immunity.
So many people are wondering what to do with all this new time at home, as schools and workplaces are closed, gyms and ski resorts shut their doors, and social distancing becomes the order of the day. Certainly one of the things we can do with this newly available time is - expand our personal arsenal of health-promoting strategies.
Start with the Obvious - Personal Health 101
The first level of personal health improvement is - start by doing what you already know you should be doing. Most of us already know what we need to do, to build and preserve our health - we just haven't been taking the time to do it, under the press of so many other things on our to-do list. Now that our to-do list is suddenly shortened, we can use that newfound time to do what we already know we should do to preserve and build our health. This includes:
- Get plenty of exercise and physical movement - preferably outside, in the fresh air and sunshine. There is almost nothing you can do that can help you more powerfully than physical movement. On a physical level, it can build your strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and yes, your physical immunity. On an emotional level, it increases endorphins (the feel-good hormones), reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), improves your self-confidence, prevents or reverses depression, and makes the world look and feel brighter overall.
- Exercise outside in the sunlight is particularly powerful, on both physical and emotional fronts. Sunlight provides the body with needed Vitamin D and other nutrients that build immunity. Sunlight also fights depression - a particularly important benefit in this day and age. Being outside also provides fresher, more circulated air - rather than constantly breathing in the stale air trapped inside your living space. If you are lucky enough to walk or exercise where trees or other greenery are abundant, that's even better, for an infusion of fresh rejuvenating oxygen - besides the emotional lift of seeing the colors and beauty surrounding you.
- Find additional ways to increase your sunlight intake. You can also benefit from exposing yourself to natural sunlight even when you can't go outside. Study near a large sunlit window or glass sliding door - or even if your car, if you have to. Open the blinds, and let the sunshine in. Find out where sunlight enters your home at different times of day, and time your daily activities accordingly. For example - Perhaps the sun comes through your living room window in the morning, and floods through your bedroom window in late afternoon. If so, study in the sunlit living room in the morning, and take a rest, fold your clothes, or do a study session in your bedroom in the afternoon.
- Eat healthy, whole, fresh, nutrient-packed food. As restaurants, bars, and other public places close their doors, and as we practice the prescribed "social distancing," we will far more often be required to plan and prepare our own meals, for ourselves and our loved ones. Use this opportunity to drench your body with the healing nutrients of real food - in other words, food that has been alive recently!
While a few canned goods are nice to have on hand for an emergency, they are by definition overcooked, overprocessed, and full of food additives. They cannot provide the same health-enhancing qualities as fresh food can. So, while at the grocery store, don't just buy TP, processed packaged food, and bacterial soap. Bring home plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and use them multiple times daily - in salads, soups, juices, smoothies, and as side dishes. Nothing builds immunity more powerfully than the nutrients provided by nature's fresh wholesome food.
- Drink LOTS of fresh, pure water. Your body - and especially your brain - need water to function properly. Water cleanses your body (inside as well as outside,) circulates and distributes the nutrients provided in your food, and is crucial for timely, consistent elimination. Other drinks - particularly manufactured drinks like soda pop or energy drinks - can't even begin to deliver these same benefits. So for brain and body health, drink plenty of water, every single day, from the time you get up in the morning, to a few hours before you go to bed at night.
- Sleep and rest. In our normal overscheduled lives, we don't get enough of either of these crucial resources. Use the opportunity now to catch up on these immunity-building, regenerating experiences.
Use the newly-available time provided by this experience to develop and strengthen health-promoting habits in your life. By so doing, you can help yourself and your loved ones to develop a lifestyle of wellness and an expansion of immunity - which is one of your greatest possible contributions to public health during this crisis, and throughout your lifetime.
Stretching Into New Health-Promoting Experiences
In addition to the basic health-promotion strategies mentioned above, you may want to expand your wellness arsenal by experimenting with some less familiar strategies that may bring additional health benefits. These include:
- Yoga, Tai Chi, and Other Eastern Exercise Regimes - These promote not only flexibility and balance - they also help moderate your breathing, calm your anxiety, and center your inner self - all needed and relevant benefits for getting through today's challenges.
- Body Weight Exercise - Can't get into the gym for your normal weight-lifting routine or exercise class? Look on the internet and elsewhere for body weight exercises you can do at home, without special equipment.
- Dance! - One of the easiest and most fun of exercise routines is - turn on your favorite high-energy music, and dance to it! It doesn't have to be a stage-worthy performance. Dance as if no one is watching. Lift your arms and legs high, and dance out your frustrations, concerns, and worries.
- Juicing - This provides a powerful way to quickly infuse your body with the health-promoting nutrients of fresh fruits and vegetables, requiring a minimum of digestion, preparation, and cleanup. If you don't already have a juicer, purchase one. It is one of the best and easiest ways to get maximum nutrition flowing easily through your bloodstream - including immunity-building foods that can otherwise be hard to consume, like lemons and fresh ginger.
- Smoothies - The internet is flooded with great ideas and recipes for getting drinkable nutrients through health-enhancing smoothies you can create in your own blender (preferably a high-powered blender such as a NutriBullet, Blendtec, or Vitamix.) A great way to get your spinach and other leafy green vegetables, mixed with other cleansing ingredients such as fresh or frozen fruit.
- Oil Pulling - This strategy is not well known, but can be a powerful way for capturing the sickness-inducing organisms that congregate first in your mouth, gathering them, and spittting them out before they have a chance to spread throughout your body. Best to do this first thing in the morning, upon waking - before eating, drinking, or toothbrushing.
In 1959, President John F. Kennedy taught, "When written in Chinese, the word "Crisis" is composed of two characters. One represents danger; and the other represents opportunity." The current crisis surrounding the coronavirus is no different. Though the dangers are well-publicized, the opportunities for growth and health-promoting development are just as real. Use this unique time to increase your strength and wellness in all areas of your life -- but especially in improving your physical wellness, to make yourself more resistant to the virus, and healthier in general -- benefitting both yourself, and everyone around you.