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7 mind-body ways to keep your immune system strong

By now, you’ve probably read a ton of articles on getting 8 hours of sleep, home-based workouts, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, washing your hands properly and social distancing. This blog is about the lesser-known ways with ayurveda to help keep your immune system strong.

But first, let’s recap how ayurveda defines health. It’s the balanced state of doshas [bodily humors], digestive fire and tissues with proper elimination and the blissful state of soul, senses and mind.

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know now that your digestive system is key to your health and that digestion includes not only the intake, but also the transformation and absorption of foods, thoughts, emotions, and sensory stimuli. When this process is off track and the waste can’t leave your body through the proper channels, imbalances can develop. You may experience things like congestion and allergies. So the key to immune system health is to keep your digestion strong and balanced.

Here are 7 ayurvedic ways to help your immune system help you.

1. Follow the circadian rhythm

Sleep is a part of it but the circadian rhythm is so much more. I recently posted a 2-part blog on ayurvedic health practices that modern science proved right. Take a look at the sections on the need to eat regularly, when to eat, and the gut-brain connection in part 1. Then run through 4 more practices in part 2.

2. Sip on hot water

Start your day with and sip on hot water throughout the day. Hot water helps kick start your digestion. You may add some lemon or ginger. Or try some triphala tea if your digestion needs a little TLC. It’s packed with antioxidant qualities and 5 of the 6 tastes you should have in your diet.

3. Honor the season

We’re heading into spring, which means renewal and rebirth. If you live in a cold area, it means melting snow. For you personally, this may mean a runny nose, congestion or allergies. To counteract the effects of the season, favor warm, light and dry foods.

Eat cooked vegetables; use warming spices, such as cinnamon—which is also great for your respiratory system—, and limit or avoid dairy products. Say cheese!

Fresh foods have more prana, or life force, than frozen foods so opt for fresh cooked meals whenever you can. When you stock up on groceries, prefer vegetables and fruits that are in season. Stock up on mandarins, and leave the processed sugars and artificial sweeteners behind.

4. Add special herbs and spices to your diet

This is the part where you will want to talk to your doctor to make sure these herbs don’t interfere with any medications or health conditions you’re dealing with. Ayurveda and other natural medicine practices have been using the following herbs for (thousands of) years to help strengthen the immune system and/or respiratory system. These dosages assume that you have no underlying imbalances:

  • Chyavanprash: 1 teaspoon twice a day; or 2 teaspoons in the morning
  • Cinnamon: ½ teaspoon twice a day
  • Turmeric (with long pepper or black pepper), tulsi, guduchi: 500mg twice a day
  • Triphala: 500mg twice a day; double for constipation
  • Vitamin C, D and fish oil: 1,000mg or more a day

5. Manage your stressors—and stress response

Panicking will wear you out. Feeling like you’re on house arrest can get to you. At some point, your loved ones are probably going to drive you nuts. And if you live alone, loneliness will play tricks on your mind.

Panic, fear, anger and frustration increase the stress hormone levels in your body, which makes it harder for your body to fight off diseases.

So meditate, practice gratitude, do breathing exercises (alternate nostril breathing is a great one!), play relaxing music, sit in silence, sing and dance in your living room, go for a walk in nature, stay compassionate and kind, and let it go. We’re in this together.

6. Oil up

Consider keeping your skin and sensory cavities lubricated with oils. Herbal oils are great but plain cold-pressed, untoasted sesame oil will do too.

Self-massage with oil has many benefits from calming your nervous system and improving sleep to increasing mental clarity. We all need that right now so we can better respond to the stressors around us.

Plus, for many people, spring is a time of congestion and allergies. A few drops of oil in the nose (nasya) can help lubricate your nasal cavity and ease congestion. If you’re already using a neti pot, good for you. Follow it with nasya for lubrication. Nasya also helps calm the nervous system.

7. Limit screen time—and do something that feeds your soul

It’s very easy to be glued to our screens even more than usual when we stay at home. And it’s important that we make a conscious effort to step away from our gadgets.

Find creative ways to keep yourself and your family engaged. Play cards, board games, karaoke, learn a language, read a book (a real one!), paint a picture, do art or science projects with your kids, write hand-written letters, get a head start on spring cleaning, plant herbs and vegetables in your backyard, pick up a hobby you can do at home, call your friends, and do something good for another person. The options are endless.

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Help your immune system help you

The more you take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, the more you’ll help your immune system help you. And that’s the only thing that’s within your control.

Stay grounded, eat well, exercise mindfully and keep moving forward, my friends!

The more you take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, the more you’ll help your immune system help you. And that’s the only thing that’s within your control. #Wellness #MindBodyHealth Click To Tweet

Image by Dana Tentis, Pexels

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