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Boost Your Immune System From Your Couch

Every human on the planet wants to ensure their immune system is strong right now. Unfortunately, the amount of anxiety and stress that many people are feeling with the Coronavirus pandemic is having the opposite effect by weakening the immune system. To help you stay healthy and ready to fight off anything that comes your way, we’ve put together some easy steps for boosting your immune system from the comfort of your own home.

It all starts with the power of the mind. Evidence of the mind’s power and its impact on health dates back centuries. The strongest evidence being the placebo effect, which is believing that a treatment or procedure will work and exhibiting improvement even when only receiving a fake treatment or a sugar pill. A Harvard-affiliated study conducted by Professor Ted Kaptchuk showed the placebo effect to be 50% effective, which is as effective as the flu shot is for avoiding a hospital visit due to the flu. The power of the mind to negatively impact our health has also been studied for centuries. For example, a study at Tel Aviv University showed that those with negative affect were more prone to viruses and infections.

In short, what you believe and what you focus on impacts the strength of your immune system. While the world is currently focused on illness, it is imperative that you keep your focus on wellness in order to stay healthy. 

A quick introduction to the autonomic nervous system will help to understand why adopting a “wellness mindset” is crucial. The autonomic nervous system regulates many of our bodily functions, including breathing and heart rate. It consists of the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic system is our ‘fight or flight’ response and leads to a significant release of the stress hormone cortisol, which weakens the immune system. The parasympathetic system is in control when we are in a relaxed state. Reducing stress, increasing relaxation, and cultivating positive emotions can help boost your immune system and maintain a better balance for all of your body’s functions.

Here are five ways to immediately boost your immune system by training your mind to focus on positivity and health:

  1. Gratitude

According to the HeartMath Institute, when we experience and express appreciation, heart and brain waves function in optimal balance, indicating that the parasympathetic system is in control. An easy way to cultivate gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for each day. For our parent readers, this is also a great activity for your children. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is the easiest way to boost your health overnight and as an added bonus will increase your resilience during this challenging time. So, stop to smell the roses, or at least admire their vibrant colors from the window. If you are one of the many people with extra time on your hands right now, we encourage you to take your gratitude journal to the next level by writing gratitude letters to people who have impacted your life. Doing so will give their immune systems a boost too!

  1. Don’t Watch the News

Research conducted by Wendy M. Johnston and Graham C. L. Davey shows that watching the news increases our focus on our own worries. Worry and anxiety release cortisol, weakening the immune system. All of us are experiencing some level of worry right now so let’s not make it any harder on the body than it already is. Take a break from the news or limit your news updates to a specific window each day rather than constantly staying updated. Your phone can actually help with this by setting up screen time parameters for specific sites. Your immune system desperately needs the break. We recommend filling the time you would have spent watching the news with an activity that feels nurturing for you and helps you focus your attention on wellness such as reading a book, exercising, or meditating. Which brings us to number three…

  1. Meditate

Stress was already the norm in our culture before the “time of Corona.” Unfortunately, stress plays a serious role in whether or not your immune system will be strong enough to fight off even the common cold. Chronic stress releases cortisol, reducing white blood cells that are essential for protecting you against infection.

Meditation is an excellent way to reduce the stress so many of us are feeling right now. Studies show that meditation results in an immediate reduction in cortisol levels. Just ten to fifteen minutes of meditation three times a week can help “keep the doctor away.” A daily meditation practice will also transform your ability to cope during this time. For first time meditators, we recommend downloading an app to guide you such as Insight Timer or Headspace.

  1. Curb Your Anger

Just as the HeartMath Institute has proven that appreciation activates the parasympathetic system, they have also found that feeling or expressing anger results in erratic heart and brain waves. Anger activates the sympathetic system in the body, releasing stress hormones, including cortisol. That said, it’s still important to acknowledge our emotions and not keep them pent up. For the sake of your immune system, it’s crucial to manage your anger in a healthy way. Instead of allowing your cortisol to spike, find a healthy way to channel your anger. You can find some tips for managing anger here. If you have an ongoing issue with anger, please seek support from a mental-health professional. Your physical well-being depends on it.

  1. Health Boosting Affirmations

Our bodies store every emotion we feel and our cells are listening to every word we think and say. From the studies we’ve already pointed to, it’s easy to see how the messages we send can hinder or strengthen our immune system. Surround yourself with messages of wellness as a constant reminder of how to focus your thoughts. Healthy affirmations are an easy way to shift your focus from illness to wellness and we recommend using this time at home to put those messages up around the house. These can be post-its on the bathroom mirror, big posters on the wall, or our personal favorite is to use glass-markers on the windows and mirrors. Here are a few health affirmations I use with my clients to get you started:

  • I am a vessel for healing.
  • My immune system is strong and protects me every day.
  • My body has everything it needs to heal.
  • I am vibrant, healthy, and strong.

As you can see, our mindset is a powerful way to ‘flatten the curve’ while staying home. We recognize that it will take some extra effort to focus on wellness when everyone around you is talking about illness. Be the trendsetter and get others on board. During these challenging times all of us need to do our part to cultivate health for ourselves and our loved ones.  Most importantly, with your new ‘wellness mindset,’ if any symptoms of illness do pop-up, your immune system will be strong and ready.

Short Bio: 

Best-selling author Kaley Zeitouni healed herself from multiple sclerosis (MS) after 18 years with the disease. She turned her own healing journey into her life’s mission as an Illness Recovery Coach, helping others achieve long-lasting relief from chronic illness through the power of the mind. Kaley lives between Los Angeles and Jerusalem, approaching each day as a miraculous gift. For more information visit www.kaleyz.com.