All of our lives have been changed by COVID-19. The new coronavirus has created global disruption and many of us––even if we have not contracted the virus––have been impacted socially, emotionally, financially, and physically as we adapt to social distancing and a more sedentary lifestyle.
It is clear that everyone’s first task is to protect themselves and others through basic protective measures like those recommended by the World Health Organization: wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing, avoid touching your face, and practicing respiratory hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control also highlights the importance of frequent cleaning and disinfecting and wearing a cloth face cover in public.
Along with these recommendations, however, there are steps we can take to not only prevent exposure, but strengthen our immune system to increase our body’s overall defense to illness.
1. Get a good night’s sleep
Research continually demonstrates the connection between sleep and the proper functioning of the immune system. The longer, deeper sleep we get, the better our immune system will perform.
And while we can’t always control our actual sleep performance, we can create rhythms and an environment that aid rest. The CDC recommends these tips: have a consistent bedtime; make the room as quiet and dark as possible; remove all screens (phones, tablets, TVs) from the bedroom; avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime; and get exercise during the day.
Aromatherapy can also be an important part of creating an environment conducive to improved sleep. Research has demonstrated that products like lavender essential oil can be an excellent natural remedy to improve the quality of sleep.
2. Calm down and reduce stress
The American Psychological Association has found that stress weakens the immune system, and chronic stress decreases the body’s white blood cells, which help fight off infection from viruses and other illnesses, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The Mayo Clinic suggests these simple tips for managing stress: get physical activity; eliminate unhealthy habits such as smoking; meditate; laugh more; connect with others. We can also reduce stress by simply breathing more deeply, taking a walk outdoors, and cutting out sources of anxiety-inducing stimuli, such as turning off the news or getting off social media for periods of time.
Diffusing essential oils can also aid us in calming down and relaxing. Research has shown that aromas of certain essential oils act on the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that influences the hormonal system. Lavender essential oil is well known for its calming properties, and calming essential oil blends can be diffused to create a peaceful environment that helps calm frayed nerves and reduce feelings of anxiety.
3. Boost your immune system
Eating a low-fat, plant-based diet rich in nutrients can give our immune system a boost. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are important to immune system health; Beta-Carotene, Vitamins C, D, and E, and Zinc are examples that are crucial to optimizing our immune system performance.
Essential oils can also boost our immunity. Studies have shown certain essential oils, such as eucalyptus essential oil, have immune function enhancing properties, and immunity boosting essential oil blends can be perfect for diffusing in your home and aiding in your effort to keep your family’s immune systems as robust as possible.
Always remember it’s important to follow the advice of health care professionals, but don’t neglect the steps you can take to enhance your body’s natural defenses. Getting quality sleep, reducing stress, and boosting our immune system are things all of us can choose to do today!