Hello everyone!! I want to start by saying I hope everyone is safe and healthy, and that I am praying for those effected by this pandemic. This is for sure unprecedented times as we all deal with fallout from COVID-19. If you watch the news, then most of what you hear is social distancing and wearing protective equipment, but what else can we be doing to keep us safe during this crazy time? Today I am going to talk about five things that I am doing daily to improve my immune system so that I can stay healthy and increase my bodies to fight off COVID-19 or any other foreign organism. I know many of us are worried about our health and the health of our loved ones, however, at a time like this I think it’s important to listen to what those airline flight attendants have been telling us all these years…”put your oxygen mask on first.”
Now more than ever, we must take care of ourselves first. Stress, especially prolonged stress, has a nasty way of messing with our health and well-being. When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off toxins is compromised, which makes us more susceptible to illness and disease. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. Prolonged stress can also lead to pain, weight gain, and fatigue. The most important thing we can all do right now for ourselves and our loved ones is to boost our health and immune system. Nothing that I’m telling you here is new or rocket science. Below are five things I’m trying to do every day to ensure that I am doing my best for my family, my patients, and my staff.
It’s been four weeks since most of the country has been isolated. People are not going to work or the gym, they’re not playing sports, and they’re not visiting with friends. We are confined to our homes, sitting more, out of our exercise routine, and not moving as much as we used to. Take a look at your Fitbit statistics compared to a month ago. I bet you’ll see a decline in your activity level. I would guess that this is leaving many of us feeling stiff and sluggish. We were meant to move and there is plenty of evidence to support that exercise boosts our immune system and overall health.
This is what I’m doing to make sure I get enough activity every day:
I make a conscious effort every day to MOVE. Any exercise will do. I’m not getting picky. I will either do cardio (riding my bike with my boys or going for a family walk), a flexibility routine, a full body strengthening routine, or my physical therapy exercises (yes, I have my own physical therapy exercise that I need to stay up with too). I decide what to do based how I feel. If I feel sluggish, I go for cardio. If I feel strong, I go for the full body routine. If I feel stiff and stuck, I do my flexibility routine. I try to do this first thing in the morning before the rest of the day gets going. When I make exercise a priority in my day, I feel more energetic, more productive, and less stressed. Do yourself a favor, get moving– you’ll feel better. If you want more guidance, check out our Virtual Wellness Classes.
Guess what a lot of people do when they are stressed out? Eat like crap. Junk food, comfort foods, and alcohol makes people temporarily feel better. Sound familiar to anyone? In fact, I am super guilty of this one. Some of you know 2019 was a tough year for me and I gained 25 pounds that year. Starting in January 2020, I began eating healthy and going to the gym again. Prior to COVID-19, I had lost 15 pounds. However, I lost my routine, the wheels fell off the bus, and my one glass of wine a night turned into two, three, and sometimes four. I really started to feel sluggish and foggy. Now I am back on track and my energy levels are back up. Guess what else eating right does for you? It strengthens your immune system and makes you feel healthier. As I said, it isn’t rocket science.
This is what I’m doing to ensure that I’m fueling my body with good nutrition:
I’m drinking plenty of water, around 8-10 cups per day. I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I’m consuming plenty of lean protein. I’m sticking to healthy fats in the form of nuts, avocados, and olive oil. I’m staying away from foods that are high on the glycemic index. I’m avoiding sugars, processed foods, unhealthy fats, and I’m limiting my alcohol. Now let me be clear: I do still consume some of these things, but it’s rare and a treat, not daily, more like weekly. I don’t believe in all-or-nothing when it comes to eating right.
There are two main reasons to take supplements. It can be difficult to get all of the nutrients you need from dieting alone. This is especially important for these days when we may not have access to good nutrition if we aren’t going to the grocery store as often or if some of our favorite healthy foods aren’t available when we get there. It’s more likely that people are buying processed foods, frozen dinners, and other convenience foods Well, guess what? Those foods don’t have the nutrients we need. The second reason you should consider taking supplements is that it offers an opportunity to boost your immune system and at least give you a better chance of staving off illness.
This is what I’m doing in the form of supplements to boost my immunity:
I’m not super big on supplements, mainly because I’m not an expert on the topic. However, I have acquired basic knowledge throughout the years, and I figured I would share what I am doing. Prior to COVID-19 I was taking a multivitamin as well as Vitamin B complex and Fish Oil. I never really thought about supplements for immune health prior to COVID-19. After some research I have added an immune support powder that I add to my water in the morning which has a high dose of Vitamin C and Vitamin D. I have also started taking an Elderberry supplement. Studies suggest it may boost the immune system and one study showed it might be effective against HINI or Swine Flu. I have no evidence that it helps against COVID-19, but I figure it can’t hurt.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
How are you sleeping these days? If you are like most people, probably not too well. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that people are spending more time watching TV before bed, staring at social media and the news on their phones, and staying awake feeling restless, thinking about what the future will bring. This is highly disruptive to getting restorative sleep. Studies have shown a lack of good sleep makes us more susceptible to getting sick after being exposed to a virus.
This is what I’m doing to ensure a good night’s sleep:
I aim to get 7.5 hours of sleep, which is the amount of sleep that I have found makes me feel the best. You need to find out what works best for you. I don’t look at a screen for at least 30 minutes before I go to bed, so I have some time to unwind. I like to read before I doze off to sleep. I aim to get up at the same time every morning. If I can’t get 7.5 hours of sleep because I went to bed too late, then I will opt to get six hours of sleep, not 6.5 or seven. I will explain this sleep hack in a future blog…it has to do with the sleep cycle.
Keeping My Mind Clear of Negative Thoughts and Staying in a Positive Mindset
We are being bombarded with news about COVID-19…constantly. It’s everywhere. It’s on TV, in the papers, on social media, and is consistent in people’s conversations. All of it is feeding into our sense of fear and uncertainty. This keeps us in a state of fight or flight, and leads to irrational thoughts and behaviors. Worrying causes stress which may have negative implications on our immune system. What we fill our minds with does affect health and the immune system. Scientists have shown that positive emotions broaden our perspective of the world thus allowing us to live with more creativity and to see more options. Positive emotions also build over time, strengthening our resilience and our ability to flourish. The physical and emotional benefits of positivity include improved cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system, better sleep, and an overall greater sense of happiness.
This is what I’m doing right now to keep my mind free of negative thoughts:
I am significantly limiting my intake of the news and social media. I still want to stay informed and up-to-date. I will check in for about 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the day, but that’s it. Anything more leads to worry and my thoughts go towards worst-case scenarios. Secondly, I am taking time to unwind. Sometimes that means just sitting in silence and taking deep breaths to clear my mind, kind of like meditation. Sometimes it’s reading a good book or doing my flexibility routine. I guarantee you that 20 minutes of unwinding or meditation will be much better for your health and sanity than 20 minutes of watching the news or reading the worrisome thoughts and opinions of others on social media. If you want to stay healthy during this difficult time of crisis and stress, you need to focus on you…first and foremost. There is nothing new or earth-shattering in what I have described above. This is what we should all aim to do to stay healthy physically and mentally all of the time, but now it’s more important than ever. I hope you feel inspired to take control and add some certainty back into your life. Try adding ONE of these things above every day for a week and see if it made a positive change for you. You don’t have to do what I aim to do, but you should be doing something to invest in your health, because in the end if we are in good mental and physical health, we can make it through anything this world throws at us.
What Services We Are Offering to Further Help You
Virtual Wellness Membership
These classes are taught from the safety and convenience of your own home! We offer four classes a week focused on Balance, Strengthening, Pilates Mat or Pilates Chair. You’ll get instructions from our very own Doctor of Physical Therapy, Christa Ordonez, and interact with fellow members on Zoom! All you need is a smartphone/tablet/computer with a camera, and we make the set up easy!
What all is included in this membership?
- Four virtual wellness classes a week.
- Four pre-recorded exercise videos (on Balance, Strengthening, Pilates Chair and Pilates Mat). These classes can be taken anywhere!
- A 30 minute phone/video consultation with a physical therapist- this is just to make sure we’re giving you exactly what you need in these classes and for us to get to know you better!
If you are interested in learning more about our Virtual Wellness Membership or if you would like to talk to one of our specialists to make sure Virtual Wellness is right for you, call 512-730-0231 and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Austin Health Experts Happy Hour Webinar Series
Over the next few weeks, Ryan will be hosting weekly lectures over Zoom with some of Austin’s best health experts on how we can remain healthy, active and independent during this time. Guest speakers will include Psychotherapists, Nutritionists, Medical Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, and more! Our first Happy Hour webinar we got 32 people on the call- and we’re still growing! These webinars will be held every Friday at 4:00 PM CST.
How much does it cost to sign up? NOTHING! We want to better serve our community during this crazy time, so bring your drink and let’s have some fun!
To sign up for our Happy Hour, go to
www.naturalfittherapy.com/happyhour or call us at 512-730-0231 if you have any trouble!