Life as we knew it is morphing. Many of us are now forging new life and career paths for ourselves, whether by choice or necessity. During the pandemic, it’s mission-critical to stay disciplined about habits that will support our immune systems, especially if we decide to venture out to support local businesses, for example. Here are five tips to help protect your health post-quarantine:
1: Soak Up the Sun: Sunlight is essential to staying healthy. Catching some rays (without sun block) for just 30 minutes a day can have a powerful effect on your immune system. Sunlight helps your body make vitamin D, which is key to a strong immune system. Being exposed to sunlight also increases your body’s nitric oxide production in the blood, according to research. Not only does this improve blood flow, but it helps prevent the replication of viruses and bacteria in the body. It’s also encouraging to note that ultraviolet radiation from the sun helps to inactivate many viruses.
2: Take Zinc Daily: Zinc affects the immune system in myriad ways. According to studies, zinc is essential for the development and function of cells mediating your innate immunity. These cells are responsible for identifying viruses before they get a foothold in your body. Zinc has also been shown to help prevent autoimmune responses, such as in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
3: Don’t Forget the Vitamin D Supplements: Vitamin D is not just for your bones; almost every cell in the body uses vitamin D in some way, according to the National Institute of Health. Did you know that vitamin D is not even a vitamin at all? It’s actually a hormone. According to research published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, vitamin D is needed for the formation of healthy immune cells. It is also vital for keeping the immune system from attacking healthy body tissue. And vitamin D deficiency is linked to higher viral infection rates and auto-immune disease…so reduce your risks by harnessing its magic!
4: Break a Sweat: According to Richard J. Simpson, Ph.D., exercise helps circulate immune cells around the body much more effectively, which allows the cells to identify and stop an infection before it has a chance to take hold. That being said, over-exercise can actually weaken the immune system and increase your risk of infection. Strike the right balance with daily, moderate physical activity.
5: Reduce Stress: Chronic stress can have a very negative effect on our immune systems. According to the Cleveland Clinic, stress can reduce the number of white blood cells and increase the inflammation in your body. A lower white blood cell count raises your body’s risk of infection, chronic inflammation, and auto-immune disease. Spending time in meditation, consistently catching some good quality Zs, and making time for activities that bring you joy will certainly help with the reduction of stress. And here’s a secret: singing is a significant stress reliever. According to a study by the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, large parts of our brain “light up” with activity when we sing. So, wind up your vocal cords to wind down!
Pandemic or no pandemic, developing good health habits is crucial for a strong mind and body that’s able to work for you, toward achieving both your life and career goals. Power UP.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, ICF-certified executive coach, Corentus-certified team coach and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.