Health & vitality in a time of COVID-19
Hello Clients & readers,
In light of COVID-19 I have stopped seeing clients. I've already finished for this week and I'm watching and waiting like everyone else.
I promised on Facebook that I would pen an email to talk about health though, so here it is.
I’m pretty sure that very little of what I’m about to say is news to you if you've been coming here, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder of these things or just to have it to said ‘to’ you rather than trying to think it all yourself (I’ll get someone else to read it back to me I think ;-)).
I have dipped in and out of mainstream media and have found it a bit scary so far. I can’t imagine how it’s affecting those who are more vulnerable or anxious. It can make me feel like I’m both of those things!
The purpose of this email is not to discount any government, NHS or WHO guidelines, or to replace any other medical advice. It’s not alternative. It's complementary; a little extra about how we can foster and maintain wellbeing. Tools for the kit as it were. There will be all sorts of different situations for each of us & those we love.
To start with I do recommend getting news from one or two calm and neutral online sources and perhaps limiting social media. You can’t ‘unsee’ certain posts and the mainstream news machine is a show that’s there for ratings. 50% less scary news is available elsewhere online and your adrenals will thank you for it.
So, to health…
Disease happens. If we were so biologically weak that we couldn’t counter it we would be sick all the time. The fact that we’re not implies we have differing levels of susceptibility. So, what makes it different?
Levels of health and vitality
We want our level of health to remain HIGH so that our susceptibility remains LOW. This might sound obvious because that's just immunity, right? Well yes, but the concept of immunity makes it seem like it’s something out of our control, something which just ‘is’.
The concepts of health and vitality put a little of that control back. From there we’re able to take a look at all the things we can do to raise our level of health, and some of the things we might unwittingly be doing to compromise it.
Diet, breathing, toxins, sleep and movement all play a part in this.Thoughts are a major one though.
Amy Cuddy, a social Psychologist and Author of a book called ‘Presence’ did a great Ted talk explaining how even just faking positive or negative poses and mind sets changed the level of stress hormones in the saliva of students during an experiment. Fascinating stuff. We can affect our chemistry and feelings in an instant.
It’s all about the nervous system
The immune system is connected to the nervous system and that’s really what’s running our show most of the time. We want a calm soothed system not a wired one. It’s even the nervous system that tells our muscles fibres how long or short to be. Stress makes us tense and more vulnerable.
This means that state of mind is really important when it comes to our levels of susceptibility. We must look after it.
Fear triggers the fight or flight response because the body genuinely thinks that our life is in danger. When this happens, the ‘go’ part of our nervous system, called the Sympathetic nervous system kicks in and provides us with adrenalin so we can act on this threat. If levels of adrenalin remain high (as they do with continued stress) then the body issues another hormone, called cortisol, to suppress it.
The downside of cortisol is that it suppresses the immune system and also downgrades other important processes we need including digestion.
It's said that some of our immunity comes from the microbiome which is the friendly bacteria in our gut. We need to feed the microbiome with varied natural food and we need the digestive system to function freely, which is doesn’t do under stress.
Our minds are an incredibly powerful tool. So are our bodies. We must use them both well.
Drink lots of water so that all the body tissues are hydrated. It helps us think clearly, function normally and detoxify. Most of us are a bit dehydrated as standard. Help out by drinking more. It’s easy and free.
Avoid eating pre-packaged, refined and processed food. It spikes blood sugar levels, disrupts sleep and hormones and encourages fight or flight. It also contributes to toxic load in the body which increases the burden on the lymphatic system and liver.
Eat home cooked food that’s made with care and good quality ingredients. It should be varied and colourful every day. Imagine all the colours of a rainbow on a plate. Include low GI high protein foods. Lentils, pulses, veg, healthy fats like nuts, cold pressed oils and avocado. It’s easy to make simple inexpensive soups and stews this way which feed lots of people and are easily freezable. If you need help with this on a budget or limited ingredients, ask away.
If you’re poorly with a cold already reduce your intake of meat and dairy. Stick to a light vegetarian diet that’s easy for the body to digest, but packed full of nutrition. Include lentils and pulses for protein. Keep up intake of fluids and rest. Up the vitamin C. Use homeopathy - see the list of homeopathic remedies available to treat your symptoms at the bottom.
Cortisol levels are naturally high in the mornings when we get up. Drinking caffeine first thing can mean they remain elevated for longer than they need to be. Consider making your first drink of day something non-caffeinated like fresh lemon in hot water. It’ll make for stress from that moment and help the liver.
Consider taking vitamin C in higher doses for a while. Food based rather than synthetic ascorbic acid is best. Also consider Zinc and Vitamin D.
Sleep! Make sure this is enough for you so that your energy level stays high, your mood is level and the body has plenty of time to do its essential repairs.
Sleep even more! If you’re extra tired take 5-10 minute daytime naps. They are a wonderful rejuvenator and can make a real difference, especially when it comes to keeping stress low. Doing guided relaxations and Yoga Nidra are great for this. Check Youtube or ask me for links.
Activate the parasympathetic nervous system. I go on about this all the time and there’s much Googling that can be done on the subject. This parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite of flight or flight and it can’t switch on when fight or flight is in action…but vice versa. It’s our greatest ally in health and repair. Breathing in through the nose and then exhaling slowly and softly through the mouth for double the length of time can help switch it on. We do this in sessions here.
Do something every day to make you feel quiet, still, in the present moment and a bit ‘out of body’ like you do in reflexology sessions. Standing in Mountain Pose with palms together feeling your feet root through the floor, laying in Savasana pose doing diaphragmatic breathing, laying in Yoga Nidra practice, or simple seated meditations and mindful moments (however long you do it for), are all wonderful ways of activating this system.
Practice a bit of Reflexology on each other – hands or feet doesn’t matter. It’s incredibly soothing. Check out the AoR site for guidance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKiQxGylHTs
Be clean by using natural soaps rather than toxic chemicals all the time. Think about preserving your own good bacteria (whatever we use sinks in) and your toxic load. There’s a balance to be struck. Think about caring about yourself.
Get out in the fresh air and hopefully the sunshine, without sunglasses, without sunglasses. This is the best way to get a Vitamin D boost. Get regular exercise or healthy movement that feels good.
Reduce alcohol intake and other toxins to give the liver a break and look after mental health. If the liver's quite so busy trying to detox you it can get on with other important body cleansing biz and you'll have more energy for working out how to cook good lentil dishes.
If you're into this idea read on. If not, no problem! Skip to the end.
There are lots of homeopathic remedies to use for the symptoms of coughs, colds and flu. As there are for anxiety, low mood, stress and insomnia.
There are a few cold/flu examples in this list, but again there are plenty of other lists
if you Google correctly.
And you can use all this alongside any other treatment.
If you’re really into having a go, here’s a great ‘how to’ PDF on flu…
Globally homeopaths are using various remedies to tre