Build Your Immune System This Winter
A part of me loves the winter and another part of me dreads it. I love the cold air, snow, and extra time to sleep and rest, but another part of me stresses over the rise of various viruses that surround us during this time of year as well. I find myself being more mindful about being around others and make a point to wash or sanitize my hands a bit more frequently than in the warmer months. But ultimately, I accept the fact that I am human and will deal with illness at various points in my life no matter what I do, while also knowing that I can do certain things on a daily basis that can increase my likelihood of staying healthy and increasing my immune system for the better.
Support your immunity with your diet:
1. Minimize stimulants like coffee, refined sugars, and processed foods 2. Emphasize healthy, whole foods 3. Eat mindfully and maintain a regular eating schedule
1. Like animals in the wild, we are meant to sleep more in the winter months, but society doesn’t necessarily make it easy to follow this natural shift in behavior, so invite yourself to go to bed a bit earlier. As the sun goes down earlier, so should we. 2. Don’t eat too close to bedtime, give your body plenty of time to digest and recover. 3. Wear blue blocker glasses starting at least two hours before bedtime to invite the natural release of melatonin.
1. Excess stress is extremely detrimental to our immune response because stress hormones suppress the immune system, reallocating vital resources in order to ensure our immediate survival 2. Practice gratitude at night or in the morning. 3. Engage in breathing exercises such as 4-2-4-2 (inhale for 4, pause for 2, exhale for 4, pause for 2, and repeat as needed) 4. Meditate for 5-10 minutes daily. 5. Seek out professional guidance with an Internal Family Systems therapist/practitioner. You can find your closest IFS therapist at ifs-institute.com
Create a Supportive Daily Routine:
1. Having a daily routine calms the nervous system and relieves stress. Try to awaken, eat your meals, and go to bed at the same time each day 2. Focus on maintaining or creating behaviors in your morning routine such as stretching when getting out of bed, gratitude, tea ritual, 5 minute meditation, and getting outside to feel the sun/air within 30 minutes of waking 3. Focus on maintaining or creating behaviors in your nighttime routine such as bathing/showering, tea ritual, oil self-massage, journaling, and gratitude
Exercise to support immunity:
1. When done mindfully, exercise helps to release accumulated tension, move stagnant mental and emotional energy, and improve circulation 2. Supportive exercise doesn’t have to be complex or time-intensive. A daily twenty-minute walk can be greatly beneficial for the system 3. Stretch, shake, walk, run, jump, lift something heavy, etc.
Vitamin and supplement support for immunity: It is recommended that you consult your general practitioner before adding any new supplements or vitamins to your daily routine)
1. Vitamin C 2. Vitamin D 3. Zinc 4. Curcumin 5. And always, a pre and pro biotic to support healthy gut bacteria
Other tips to utilize during this time of year to support your immunity are washing your hands more frequently for at least 10-20 seconds, sanitizing your computer and phone, getting vaccinated, and wearing a mask in public if feeling ill or uncomfortable in crowds. And most importantly, always remembering that we are strong resilient Beings that can heal and overcome.
~Natalie Deering, MS LPP