Hospitals today are juggling superbugs as well as seasonal illnesses, like the flu. Never a place that you want to be, with COVID-19 at large it’s now worth avoiding more than ever. If despite all your efforts you end up getting sick, you’re likely to bounce back faster if you’ve been making the right choices to supercharge your immune system.
And there’s another benefit: right now everything feels uncertain and strange. Focusing on your wellbeing can provide a sense of control at this stressful time, with the added benefit of feeling better physically and mentally.
Read on for some tips, apps and online resources to keep you fighting fit this coming winter.
Get your body moving
Not only does light exercise support your immune system, but it also boosts your endorphins and makes you feel good. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – a gentle walk, a simple yoga video or exercise class on YouTube or dancing to your favourite tunes will all lift your spirits.
Now is a great time to try something new – pilates, Couch to 5K or a gym workout online. Or support a local trainer with some online or outdoor classes, which will also provide you with some social contact if you’re continuing to work from home.
Double up the wellbeing benefits by catching up with friends or family on the phone while you’re out for a walk. But don’t feel like you have to completely transform your body. We’re going through a stressful world event and it’s more important to feel good than lose five kilos right now.
Eating fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables will support your immune system as effectively as any supplement. There’s no one magic fruit or vegetable to eat, it’s more about focusing on whole foods and avoiding too much sugar or processed food. And don’t forget to keep hydrated with water or herbal tea instead of coffee, as too much caffeine will make you feel wired and more stressed.
Keep the germs away and get a flu jab
We are now a population of highly skilled hand washers, which has almost certainly lessened the impact of the flu season this year. Each year, it’s worth making time for your annual flu jab to reduce your chances of getting sick even further.
Make time for sleep and relaxation
We all have different ways of unwinding, whether it’s going to bed early with a book, relaxing with our favourite Netflix series or indulging in a candlelit bath with essential oils – factor something in each day to help your nervous system.
If you are feeling stressed, Smiling Minds is a brilliant free resource to talk you through some simple meditations and breathing exercises. In response to the global pandemic they have developed a new Thrive Inside program you can download onto your phone. Meditation and mindfulness are scientifically proven to alleviate stress and promote a calmer mood, so it’s worth taking ten minutes to still your mind.
If you want to try something new, Wim Hof is offering free mini-classes to introduce people to his philosophy, which focuses on getting back in touch with our bodies through breathing exercises, meditation and cold exposure. His growing audience worldwide is a testament to his popularity when people are looking for different ways to feel mentally and physically stronger.
Sleep is another vital factor in boosting your immune system; most adults need seven or more hours a night to feel well-rested. Turn off your screens at night, have a warm bath, give yourself plenty of time to unwind and try not to spend hours on your phone scrolling through the news.
Keeping your immune system supported with good food, exercise and adequate sleep will give you a better chance of fighting off any infections. While there are countless miracle supplements and pills on the market to spend your money on, going back to basics is always your best bet for staying well.