Sometimes it takes a scare for us to wake up and think about our own state of health. That’s certainly what’s happening right now with this coronavirus, also known as the COVID-19 outbreak. We can’t help but be bombarded with breaking news of another case, with more hysteria around cleaning up, hunkering down and staying home to avoid catching it. But it’s important that we pause and think consciously about the coronavirus. With all of the hype around us, it’s easy to let our fears worry us about this illness. With consciousness and constant efforts, there may be optimism after all.
Let’s look at the numbers before we allow the panic of the media to get to us. Peter H. Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the non-profit organization XPRIZE Foundation who holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, writes in his March 6, 2020 article,
“…since this past October, the regular influenza has infected as many as 49 million and killed between 20,000 – 52,000 in the U.S. alone…By comparison on a global scale, the Coronavirus outbreak has infected over 90,000 people as of early March, resulting in 3,462 deaths worldwide (today’s stat). While the fatality rate of Coronavirus now appears to be slightly higher than that of typical influenza (estimates range from 1.4% to the WHO’s 3.4%), the toll of the common flu is staggeringly higher than that of COVID-19.”
Diamandis insists that “concern – as with any infectious disease—is warranted…But knowing the numbers helps limit our fear of the unknown…” There’s also been some recent good news about the virus with a number of major victories from the Pandemic frontlines.
KEEPING HEALTHY DURING CORONAVIRUS
Beyond what we know or are trying to understand as each day unfolds with more information, we can empower ourselves by practicing the basic activities to avoid any communicable disease, especially during cold/flu season, to avoid contracting viruses and bacterial infections, let alone the coronavirus.
Be aware, but not stressed. Stress actually lowers immunity. Stress occurs when life events surpass our abilities to cope, causing the body to produce greater levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. In small increments, cortisol can boost immunity by limiting inflammation. But over time, the body can get used to having too much cortisol in the blood, and this opens the door for more inflammation.
When you feel worried or anxious around the possibility of contracting the virus, take a breath. Soften your shoulders. Try Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breath, which he calls a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” This breathing technique forces the mind and body to focus on regulating the breath, rather than replaying your worries. It soothes a racing heart and helps calm frazzled nerves. The more you practice it, the more powerful it becomes.
To practice the 4-7-8 breath, sit up tall. Rest the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your top front teeth. Keep it there throughout the entire practice. Before starting, part your lips. Make a whooshing sound by pursing your lips, exhaling completely through your mouth. Then…
1. Close your lips, inhaling through your nose as you count silently to four in your head.
2. Then, for seven seconds, hold your breath while relaxing your face and shoulders.
3. Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.
Continue this pattern for four full breaths. This is a great breath to do whenever you think of it during the day, while lying in bed before falling asleep or to help you fall back to sleep during the night.
GET PLENTY OF REST
We are a sleep deprived nation. Many of us do not get enough rest. In fact some pride themselves on just needing four hours of sleep a night. While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to illness. Aim to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If your sleep schedule is interrupted by children, a busy work week or other factors – naps count! Taking a nap (or two) up to 30-minutes is rejuvenating and healthful.
WASH YOUR HANDS
Washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of germs like bacteria and viruses. Wash often with soap and water for 20-seconds. To make it fun, hum a 20-second song or chorus! When hand washing isn’t available, hand sanitizer with 60% or more alcohol-base is best. Try not to touch your face (mouth, nose, eyes) or other common surfaces. Be diligent to cough/sneeze into your elbow (remind children to do this), and wash hands after blowing your nose. Wipe down commonly used areas or devices such as doorknobs, gym surfaces, computers, phones, tablets, remotes, etc. with disinfectant wipes. Masks are helpful for those who are actually sick, but unnecessary for those who aren’t. Avoid close contact with others who are sick, and stay home if you or your children are sick.
Drink plenty of filtered water each day. An easy formula to figure out how much water your body needs is to take your body weight and divide that in half. The answer is approximately how many ounces of water your body needs per day. Water helps to carry oxygen to cells for properly functioning systems and to remove toxins from the body, so drinking more of it could help prevent toxins from building up and having a negative impact on your immune system. Hydration doesn’t always have to come from water. It can come from broth, soups, decaffeinated herbal tea and foods with high water content such as celery, bell peppers or melon. It’s also important to keep your sinuses hydrated with a simple saline solution nasal spray. They are a safe, non-habit forming natural remedy that can be used several times a day. They help loosen mucus and clear away allergens, viruses and bacteria, thereby preventing respiratory infections and allergies. Priced at under $3 – 5 per bottle, they’re an inexpensive and effective option for babies, children and adults.
GET SUNSHINE & FRESH AIR
Sources suggest that having optimal vitamin D levels may help protect the body from the worst of viruses and from respiratory complications.
Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is a critical nutrient necessary to overall health obtained through exposure to sunlight and diet. To soak up vitamin D, head outside with no sunblock for at least fifteen to twenty minutes per day, even when the weather is chilly. The fresh air is refreshing to the lungs and if you cannot get outside, the daily recommended dose for supplementation starts at 2,000 I.U.
EAT IMMUNE-SUPPORTED FOODS
How we fuel ourselves throughout each day certainly affects our immunity. A diet including processed foods, refined sugars and alcohol can work against your immune system. Processed foods are void of crucial vitamins, nutrients and minerals that our bodies need to thrive. Strive to fill your plate with a variety of whole, real foods from the earth. Vitamin C helps to fortify the body against viruses. Foods containing vitamin C are not only citrus fruits, but berries, kiwi, pineapple, papaya, and strawberries. We love local (and now national) superfruit bowl shop Playa Bowls for this with their immune-supporting menu and antioxidant rich bowls and juices.
Plenty of vegetables are also rich in this immune boosting vitamin such as bell peppers, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, tomato and snow peas. A potent anti-inflammatory, mineral-rich food that’s easy for your body to absorb and great for immunity is bone broth. Fiber-rich foods such as beans, legumes and whole grains assist in your body’s elimination which is important for good health.
STAY CONSCIOUS AND CARRY ON
As we collectively face the challenges of COVID-19, let us remember to be conscious of good health habits and practice the activities suggested above. Most of all, we must continue to stay calm so that we can think clearly, act accordingly and trust our gut with moving forward for ourselves and our families.