By Andi Pyatt
“The Well” is a recurring column to remind us of the power we possess in mind, body and spirit.
As the days become shorter, the leaves begin to change, and the morning chill makes it harder to unravel from the covers upon waking, we know, without question, fall is in the air. Aside from pumpkin everything, apple cider and hayrides, allergies bring about runny noses and itchy throats that we hope don’t become something more intense. Fall 2020 proves to be especially precarious as the world continues to swirl due the world-wide COVID-19 Pandemic. This past spring and summer we have been discussing ways to strengthen our collective minds, bodies, and souls. What you feel on the inside is how you will shine on the outside. This week is the perfect time for some much-needed reminders on how to maintain our health as our environment continues to shift.
Be very purposeful in taking care of yourself. There are many aspects of life that appear out of our control. This has caused a great deal of anxiety for many people. While you cannot control what is happening to you and others during this time, you certainly can control how you respond to the changes. Create a routine that sets the stage for the rest of your day. Upon rising, write down five practices that make you feel grounded and settled. Choose two of those activities to complete within thirty minutes of getting out of bed. After you have completed your ritual set aside ten minutes to journal how you feel upon completion. This routine practice of self-focus will ensure you begin your day in a state of calm which allows for increased physical and mental healing throughout the day.
Get adequate rest. The days are shorter for a purpose. This is the universal season of rest. The plants and animals prepare for hibernation and stillness. Our bodies are taking cues from nature. You may be a little more drowsy than normal. This is heightened as we continue to quarantine and ‘nest’ for the cooler months of stillness. I have noticed that my own body craves a midday nap some days. Instead of fighting the urge to rest, find a cozy spot and snooze. Remember, our bodies repair when at rest. As our immune systems fight potential viruses, sleep is a vital immune boost.
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Our bodies need water to function optimally. Water flushes toxins from our system and thins the mucus in our body allowing viruses and infections to be expelled from our body. I find it challenging to drink cool water during colder months. One of my morning rituals is to have warm water with lemon every morning. This allows me to consume 20 ounces of water at the start of my day.
Eat whole foods. Eating vitamins and minerals is essential for strong immune function. Fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, and beans are great ways to get the necessary Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, and Zinc which have been proven to be vital nutrients for strengthening the immune system. I also add a Vitamin D3 supplement at my physician’s request. Eating balanced whole foods are also important to maintaining an appropriate weight. This time of year we are feasting and enjoying lots of comfort food. Set a goal to have fresh fruit and veggies at every meal. Reach for a handful of grapes with sliced cumbers instead of the Utz bag.
Keep Moving. It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise during this time of year. Your body naturally wants to be still and hibernate. While rest is important, we must maintain balance. This means increasing our heart rate for at least thirty minutes a day. Have you been walking during the summer months? If so, don’t stop. Put on a hat, a moisture wicking out garment (layers work best), gloves and continue to take your daily walks outside. The exercise and fresh air will build muscle, strengthen the respiratory system, and increase blood flow. This increase in blood circulation also means those white blood cells that fight infection in the body are constantly moving and protecting the body from foreign invaders.
Place a few humidifiers around your home and get a few plants. I am a plant mom. I have plants in every room of my home. Plants are so beneficial to our overall health as they respire in reverse to how our system works. They take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen while we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. It is the perfect synergy. Tropical plants enjoy humid environments. The dry heat of the home can be less than optimal. Place a few humidifiers in your home. It is great for you as well. The more moisture in the air the more difficult it is for viruses to remain airborne. Again, a win for your health and the plant’s health.
Wash your hands. This is the best way to ward off bacteria and viruses. Scrub your palms, back of your hands, wrists, and under your nails with soap and warm water for at least thirty seconds. Dry your hands well with a disposable towel. Hand sanitizer is fine in a pinch, but nothing beats soap and water.
The key to building and maintaining a health state of being is consistency. Sometimes we are more consistent than other times. Life is all about ebb and flow. Now is the perfect time to refocus your intention to your health. Small changes really do create lasting results. A strong mind and body is the optimal defense against illness. Prevention is the best intervention.
Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author (Julia Belle) of the new children’s book, Sunflower’s Breath. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology/Neuroscience from Williams College and a graduate degree in Health Science from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
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