Adjusting to a new normal
My 9 year old threw himself on the floor for the 3rd morning in a row, very upset that he couldn’t have a friend over to play. I tried to convince him that he should do some reading, I would read to him, or he could practice some math facts. I am trying to homeschool a child that thrives under structure and currently has none. He says every day how unfair this is and because I am his mother, he blames me, says that I am a mean mom. Everyone feels how hard this is, everyone’s structure is gone. We are trying to adjust to a new normal, one where we feel uncertain and have little control over. We do have control over our bodies and our choices, so let’s focus on those.
By now you have likely read a post or two about how to strengthen your immune system. I will share a few of my favorites to make sure you are including them in your life right now. They are important all the time, but especially right now. And they aren’t necessarily easy right now, because we all feel stressed and often with stress comes less sleep and cravings for sugar or alcohol.
Support our immune systems
To truly support our immune systems, we need to clear, calm, enhance and modulate our immune system. This was taught to be by one of my mentors, the founder of the Functional Nutrition Alliance, Andrea Nakayama. What does that even mean? Let me explain…
We are largely not in control of the situation right now but let’s look at what we are able to control and influence. We can sit in our “circle of influence” and press out or actually influence, rather than letting the concern, fear, unknown press in on us so that we feel no control, we feel pressed in on, in some cases pressed in on so much that we lose breath, feel suffocation. I Invite you to explore what you can control; diet, lifestyle and habits to positively impact ourselves, our family and our community.
We start with calm
Let’s focus to calm our internal inflammation, calm our nervous system and calm as many lifestyle patterns as we can. To calm our internal inflammation we want to remove the largest inflammatory triggers; gluten, dairy, refined sugar, processed foods, plus any foods that you know are a personal intolerance for you. We want to increase the use of kitchen herbs like garlic, ginger, and turmeric to name a few. And we want to eat as many colors as possible to keep our veggie intake high. And lastly, hydrate to keep the cells and mucous membranes moist.
Calm the nervous system, but allow yourself to feel and not suppress what comes up during this difficult time. Try meditation, to calm the body and mind. Try yoga or continue your yoga practice. Most studios have switched to online so finding a class at any time and any level should be easy.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep, leave your phone outside of your bedroom, give yourself an hour before bedtime where the phone is off. Take an epsom salt bath, get yourself in a relaxed state for a good night’s sleep.
Reach out to friends and family, the lack of physical connection is certainly not what our species craves, so in these times make sure to reach out virtually as much as possible.
Calm as many lifestyle patterns as possible, eat and chew slowly, walk in nature, notice your surroundings, hug your children, savor a sunrise.
This is how we will channel our calm.
Next we go to clear
Clearing is a great way to support your overall immune system. Clear body waste, hydrate with water, bone broth, herbal tea, electrolytes. Consider water rich foods like soups, stews, fruits and veggies. Eat plenty of fiber. Consider digestive supplements. Consume probiotics and prebiotics for a healthy microbiome, ideally in the food form first (think sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir).
- Clear contaminants from our environment, wipe down surfaces like countertops, doorknobs, light switches. Wash hands frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
- Clear inflammation, remove dietary triggers: gluten, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol, processed foods.
- Clear stress and anxiety, stay up to date from reliable sources but do not spend the majority of your day consuming media. Practice stress reducing techniques, call a friend, prioritize exercise.
Enhance our immune systems
Next we want to enhance our immune systems, these are want you likely already seen in posts but here are my favorites:
- Targeted minerals, vitamins, and nutrients based on individual needs: Vitamins D, A, C, NAC, quercetin, zinc (with copper)
- Diverse, nutrient rich diet, high quality animal products (consider supporting a local farm), a rainbow of whole real foods whenever possible
- Spice up your cooking, favorites include:
- Essential oils: Frankincense, Oregano, Eucalyptus, immune system blends (Thieves or On Guard)
- Protect barrier systems:
- cells: hydration
- gut: probiotics
- Hydrate! Even gargle!
- Avoid smoke!
- sanctuary, dark, cool, device free, routine
- remove inflammatory foods, consider digestive support, support mucosal health
- poop regularly, irrigate with neti pot, sweat, breathing
Enhance Stress Resilience
- meditate, move your body, find joy, gratitude, relationships
Lastly, to enhance our immune system we must modulate, meaning check in, invite more balance and adjust as needed to make sure that we are doing all that we can for ourselves at the time.
Areas for modulation are – questions to ask yourself about each area:
- Modulate sleep and relaxation: how much am I sleeping? How can I optimize my sleep right now? How is my stress level? What relaxation techniques are needed?
- Modulate exercise and movement: Am I moving my body? Am I sweating daily? Am I exercising too much or too little? What feels best for me at this time?
- Modulate stress and anxiety: How can I best honor the emotions I’m feeling? What helps me feel calm? What does my new routine look like? Does it need adjustments? What helps me feel most grounded?
- Modulate nutrition and hydration: What food does my body really need right now? How many vegetables am I eating each day? Am I avoiding refined sugar? Am I eating enough protein? Eating a variety of colors? Am I drinking enough water? Am I pooping every day?
- Modulate relationships and networks: Are there relationships or networks that I need less of, that are causing added stress (ie:news, anxious relative)? Am I staying connected with my community even with physical distancing? Are there support groups or resources that I need right now?
The idea with these questions is to be curious with yourself, not to judge yourself. But to truly ask and listen to your body and find balance in each area. It’s not about trying to make each area “perfect” but rather to adjust and to create “the Goldilocks position” in each area so that you feel your influence and control in each area.
This is not meant to be overwhelming but rather empowering. Take what is helpful for now, focus on that and come back for more when you are ready. I am here if you need support in any of these areas.