Are you ‘so over’ Covid?
Can’t wait to get back to a normal fall with normal warnings about a normal cold and flu season?
I hear you. And I sympathize.
So, I’m NOT going to talk about Covid, colds, or the flu season.
Instead, I’m going to talk to you about what YOU can do (empowerment!💪) to increase the likelihood of being healthy and explain why there are so many contradictions about what we need to do to avoid getting sick.
This is especially important if you are on the autism spectrum (ASD). Those with ASD have a higher than average possibility of having an out-of-whack immune system (email me for a list of research that I have but decided not to write about).
Below is a list of ways to strengthen your immune system so you are prepared as best as you can be for whatever comes your way.
We can boost our immune systems by strengthening our social networks and decreasing stress.
Why ‘Boosting Our Immunity’ Might Be Misleading
Let me begin by explaining I’m using semantics in the title and the heading above to get your attention so I can make two points about why we may not want to ‘boost’ our ‘immunity’.
Most of us think we want a strong immune system. Agreed, an under-active immune system can cause problems such as severe infections and tumors of immunodeficiency, But, an over-active immune system has issues too. For example, allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases. What we are really aiming for, isn’t to boost our immunity but to have a balanced immune system.
Second, note that we have immune SYSTEM. It isn’t a single entity. That means, there are many places where it can go wrong. And there are many places where we can intervene to support it. There’s no one answer or magic bullet. It depends where you are too weak or too strong and which action will help to balance the system.
We want the overall system to be in the Goldilocks zone, and we want each part of it to be functioning in harmony with the other parts.
These two reasons are probably why there are many conflicting reports about what helps create a strong immune system. Which solution is best for you depends which part of your system needs to be regulated and whether it needs to be regulated up or down. There are lots of variables to consider.
Below are some of the options, broken into categories. The most obvious ones first.
• Don't smoke.
• Regular movement. There are two parts: exercise intense enough to heat up the body and moving your entire body every 30 minutes. We often forget that doing frequent light full body movement helps us. Doing a few deep knee bends or a flight of stairs gets our blood and lymph flowing. You may not know, but your lymphatic system is part of your immune system. It doesn’t have a pump and needs us to be active in order to keep it flowing so it can do its job of protecting us from invaders and remove cellular waste, among other duties.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Get adequate sleep.
• Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
• Try to minimize stress and choose activities that reduce your stress load.
One way to reduce stress is to reduce the number of decisions in your life. Decision fatigue is real.
I’ve reduced my stress and decision fatigue when grocery shopping by creating a rule. I still buy less-than-optimal food but it must be something I really like AND it must be on sale.
Since I want to reduce my temptation to eat non-healthy foods, I try not to keep them in the house. My solution for family dinners: if dessert is wanted, someone else must bring it and take any leftovers home with them.
During a recent family dinner, I offered dessert. One guest expressed his surprise. Another said, without looking up, “Guessing it was on sale.” She was right.
Schedule activities that reduce your stress. Sitting in front of a screen is an easy activity but doesn’t rejuvenate. Right now (yes now!), think of one fun/relaxing thing you can do over the next week that replaces something that doesn’t energize you. When are you committing to doing it? Unless it’s scheduled, it probably won’t happen.
• Take protective measures. Reduce intense exposure to germs, viruses, and bacteria. Every invader has a different level of intensity that a body can handle. If the body is run down, is overexposed to invaders or a combination of the two, illness is more likely.
An example is Valley Fever, caused by inhaling fungal spores. Guess what the minimum infective dose is? One spore. Yes! A single spore can call illness.
A healthy body is more likely to battle invaders, but some battles are more difficult than others.
• Have a strong support system. Loneliness is said to impact our health more than smoking. To have a strong support system, you don’t need a large number of people. In fact, if you have a large number of friends, it could be that you have surface rather than deep relationships. Pick one or a few people to spend time with.
Remember: there are long-term and short-term friendships. There is an ebb and flow to life.
• Stress may not be good but pressure can be.
Check out our pressure vests, readily available in children’s sizes. Your good stress (eustress) might come from extra pressure from us!
Next issue: Balancing our immune system through ingestibles and essential oils.
Have a healthy week.
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
P.S. How are you doing? Fall in many ways feels like the turning of a page. For me, this is more like a new year than January 1.
In the last month, I’ve struggled with the lack of summer activities – those activities, such as outdoor festivals that are anchor parts of my summer. Fall introduces winter. Yet, spring and summer 2020 was barely here.
We each have a different way of handling stress and a different timeline. Revisit how you’re feeling every once in a while so you can change things up as you need to.
And remember to be kind to others. Some of us are slower at feeling the impact of stress and some feel it much more deeply.