💪 IMMUNE SUPPORT #4: DE-STRESS & REST
Immune Support #4: De-Stress & Rest. Know that any stressor – from work, relationships, supportive lifestyles, social isolation and loneliness, from anxiety, fear, overwhelm and depression and even from the food we eat, can severely impair and even SHUT DOWN our immune system, leaving us more susceptible not only to viral but to every kind of illness.
During the stress response, our body produces high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In short spurts, cortisol can boost our immunity by limiting inflammation. But in the long-term, sustained, high levels of inflammation overwork and exhaust our immune system and critically impair its ability to protect us from threats.
Rest is not the same as sleep. Resting is what we do when we let stress subside in periods of ‘time-out’ or relaxation at home or on holiday. When we sleep, the body actually shuts down to repair and refresh itself. Make no mistake… we need both for resilient health!
De-stress & rest: what helps?
Here’s what research is teaching us about the ways in which we can de-stress and rest better support immune health:
Breathing exercises – slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing calms the nervous system and supports our immune function
Mindfulness practices – being ‘in the moment‘ calms the nervous system and supports our immune function
Meditation practices – learning to sit still and allowing our thoughts to flow without analysis or judgement comes with time, patience and practise to calm the nervous system and supports our immune function
Emotional freedom technique – known as ‘tapping‘ calms and ‘re-wires’ the nervous system and supports our immune function
Walking in Nature – we were born to live and move in Mother Nature’s green spaces. Woods and water are particularly microbially-rich places.
Singing, chanting, humming (and even gargling!) – are not only pleasurable but all are involved in stimulating the vagus nerve to calm our nervous system, allowing our body to rest, digest, recover and heal. Higher vagal tone is associated with better mood, less anxiety and lower stress. This amazing nerve runs from gut to brain and impacts on just about every organ in our body; it ‘reads’ our gut microbiome and initiates an anti-inflammatory response when it detects pathogenic organisms like viruses. This is why our gut microbiome can have an effect on our mood, stress levels and overall inflammation.
Resting & play – enjoying play at any age (music, light reading, board games, podcasts, gardening, painting, sewing, crafting, hobbies… in fact, anything that brings us pleasure) calms the nervous system and supports our immune function and resilience.
Drink white tea – white tea is a powerful antioxidant with immune system benefits. While a cup of old-fashioned black tea in a time of crisis in our British DNA, tea (and coffee) are nervous system stimulants. Building up a selection of gentler but powerful herbal teas can do wonders to soothe us and support general health.
De-stress and rest: learn more…
Researching and writing the articles below and putting my learning into practise has turned my own health around immeasurably:
https://www.izabellanatrins.com/six-elements-of-holistic-wellbeing/– holistic wellbeing is about paying attention to how key elements of our external environment (and the inextricable connections between them) impact on our body systems, to either support – or undermine – our health.
https://www.izabellanatrins.com/de-stress-your-health-in-6-simple-steps/ – I wrote this article when I was recently going through a very stressful period myself.
https://www.izabellanatrins.com/dont-let-stress-mess-with-your-gut/ – I can’t over-emphasise how our gut health impacts every aspect of our health and how much stress knocks out our gut function.
https://www.izabellanatrins.com/destress-your-desk/ – While this is a work-focused article, it’s a really good foundation and an actionable summary.
https://www.izabellanatrins.com/stress-awareness-week-8-tips-for-better-control/ – The physiology of chronic stress promotes disease and prevents healing. Flooding our body with stress hormones which break down muscle for energy, reduce our thyroid function, slow, or shut down metabolic processes and provoke systemic inflammation… pre-disposes us to chronic illness – as I well know!
https://www.izabellanatrins.com/walking-makes-us-happier-cognitive-powers/ – Movement IS medicine. Moving in nature is the best medicine – as I well know!
There is SO much we can do that will make big difference over the coming weeks and months… and as circumstances develop, we’ll find ourselves with the time to add at least some of the above into our daily lives.
What will YOU do to calm your nervous system and support your immune health?
THE REAL FOOD SOLUTION
Our risk for contracting communicable diseases like the Covid-19 virus increases when our immune system is weak and a weakened immune system is largely the result of a less than optimal diet and an unsupportive lifestyle. Even as we are experiencing this current crisis, we are also seeing underlying epidemics of chronic diseases of every kind – diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, degenerative, digestive and autoimmune disorders across the globe. These conditions too, are largely diet and lifestyle-driven and they are preventable.
We need to act now
We have robust science to show us that what we eat has never been more important for our health and, because all life is inextricably connected, for our planet. The Real Food Solution will help you to discover the power of real food as medicine for better health.. for you and for our planet.
Crises like Covid-19 are a test our humanity… let’s stop queuing up for loo rolls and start creating a strong, resilient foundation of immune health… together.
Stay safe, stay informed and get empowered, Izabella