On staying healthy, boosting your immune system and reducing anxiety.
With flu season just around the corner and the heightened health concerns surrounding Covid-19, wellness speaker Lauren Vaknine, gives us her views on how to combat winter-bugs, and back-to-work anxieties as we all begin to come to terms with a ”new-normal” way of working.
Diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 2, Lauren was wheelchair-bound and riddled from head to toe with arthritis by her late teens. With nothing else working to manage her pain and symptoms, Lauren decided to take a different approach to healing, looking into natural ways to heal her body. Her dedication to a more natural approached worked, and she went into remission.
Today, Lauren is an educational and motivational speaker on natural health.
Working alongside Great British Speakers, she offers her latest guide to staying healthy.
As Britain returns back to work, we each have a responsibility to take our health seriously. With that said, many of us have been away from the workplace, and public transport, for up to 6 months. As we adjust back to life in the workplace, we may face some anxiety. Anxieties such as socialising again, or how we can remain as healthy as possible at such a time, or even feeling a little bit afraid to leave the comfort of our homes, are all normal reactions.
Reaching and maintaining a state of wellness means acknowledging the importance of all 4 aspects of self – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – and working proactively towards enhancing them all.
With that in mind, I decided to create a wellbeing protocol, to offer practical and effective ways to aid our physical and psychological wellbeing while our bodies and minds adjust to life after lockdown.
What we understand, is that virus mutate, and attempt to attack the cells of a human body. A healthy immune system has all it needs to be able to put up a barrier against these microbes. This barrier comes in the form of our own, very well-developed and well-evolved microbes. However, it is up to us to protect this innate and ready-to-function immune system, to enable it to protect us against illness. Fear and anxiety, believe it or not, can contribute to a weakened immune system. As well as our physical wellbeing, there are also steps we can take to ensure a healthy, thriving brain and nervous system.
Here are some steps we could all be taking to ensure optimal wellbeing:
Hand washing: Wash your hands as you usually would, as well as on entering the workspace, with soap and water. Antibacterial gels and hand washes kill the healthy microbiome that live on our skin, the very things that are trying their best to protect us from “foreign” microbes. Soap and water is the healthiest way to ensure good hygiene. However, for on-the-go, there are some great natural hand sanitisers on the market, such as Weleda, Dr Bronner’s and Neal’s Yard.
Water: Drink plenty of fresh water throughout the day to keep the cells of your body healthy and hydrated. Aim for 2 litres or more.
Movement: Ample exercise encourages adequate oxygen levels, helps with brain health, and is an all-round immune booster. Exercise also releases endorphins and serotonin, thereby reducing anxiety, which is an important part of immune health.
Sunlight and nature: Exposure to wide-spectrum light during the day boosts serotonin levels, which encourages increased melatonin at night, thereby assisting the body with its natural rhythms. For these reasons, getting out into the sunlight every day is important. First morning light is where we absorb the most vitamin D. It is also important to have at least 20 minutes in an area abundant in nature, for example a park or the woods, to benefit from the oxygen from the trees and the fresh air all around.
Sleep: One of the fundamental pillars of good health is sleep. Sleep is a hormone-dependent process, and with all the variables in our lives that affect adequate hormone balance, it makes sense that we struggle with sleep. It’s more to do with the quality of sleep and the body aligning with its natural circadian rhythms than how much sleep we get. Studies have shown that the optimum time to get our 8 hours is between 10pm-6pm. When we sleep, we repair. In order to repair effectively, our circadian rhythms have to be stable—as close to our animalistic selves as possible. Turning off WiFi at night and moving away from screens at least an hour before bed will help normalise these essential rhythms that contribute to immune health.
Vitamin D: In a study published on 26th April 2020, it was shown that insufficient vitamin D levels was a considerable contributing factor to more severe reactions of the virus. As we return to work, on public transport and around lots of people, an added vitamin D with K2 supplement could help prevent any virus we do catch from becoming serious. Whichever brand you choose, always make sure it has K2 in it.
Supplements: Other supplements that could help: magnesium malate, vitamin C, zinc.
Caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes: Minimise your intake of caffeine. It compromises both the immune and nervous systems and disrupts the adrenal system, which essentially controls everything. Smoking affects every part of the body with the toxins cigarettes release, and the smoke also releases free radicals into the blood, killing off antioxidants, which we need to prevent illness. Alcohol also weakens the immune system. Eliminating or reducing these will greatly increase your chances of staying healthy.
Nutrition: The additives, preservatives and other toxins in processed and genetically modified food release free radicals into the body. Free radicals kill antioxidants, and antioxidants are what keep our immune systems thriving. Reducing intake of processed food and eating as much fresh, organic food as possible will help keep your body strong.
Stress management: We have learnt in recent years that stress and fear hugely impact the immune system. Recent events have meant that many of us have been living in a state fear. Finding ways to lessen this by taking time to work on some sort of daily stress-management practice, be it mindfulness, meditation, journaling, gratitude or even 2 minutes of simple breath work, can help alleviate the effects of stress on the immune system. It may seem daunting, but find a relatable and manageable place to start, and begin by implementing it into your day—wherever may be convenient—for 5-10 minutes until it becomes habit. It truly will help alleviate some of the anxieties that go hand-in-hand with life on Earth in 2020. Here are some places that may help you begin:
Limit Mask Wearing: Wearing a mask reduces our oxygen intake and increases our intake of carbon dioxide. In order to maintain an optimum level of health, we need fresh, clean oxygen in abundance. Wherever possible, especially when walking outdoors in parks or other places of nature (recommended daily), do so without a mask. It has been shown that those who reduce their mask wearing where safe to do so, notice a reduction in anxiety levels.
I hope these suggestions offer some reassurance that by being proactive and responsible for our own wellbeing, we can contribute in a large way to our health, thereby alleviating some anxiety surrounding returning to work.
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