I can say unequivocally that this is one of the more challenging times for families. With homeschooling, social distancing, and the uncertainty of when this new normal will abate and we can reconnect, travel, or even go to the grocery store without fear, it can feel inexorable.
But there are many things we can do, right now, to ensure that once we do have a reprieve from the coronavirus, we’re setting ourselves up to be stronger and more resilient as a world, as a country, and even right here in Boston. After all, we can do hard things. We’re #bostonstrong.
Here are some things you can do as a family and individually to boost your immune systems, calm your alarmed nervous systems, and focus on self-care, creativity, vitality, and love.
Be in nature together
Of course, be careful; read local guidelines for safe trails (not to mention to see which parks/trails are open and which are closed) stay six feet away from other people, and even consider wearing a mask and/or gloves. But please, get out into nature — it’s one of the best immunity boosters! New England is known for its spectacular trails. Explore, try new trails, and even if you have to get creative and resort to your neighborhood sidewalks or backyard for a “hike,” find a way to get some fresh air and sun and be around trees at least once per day.
Add immunity-boosting foods to your diet
While the TP and paper towel shelves are mostly empty, there are many immunity-boosting foods and beverages you can still easily get at the grocery store or online. (Always be sure to check with your physician if you have allergies or dietary concerns or if you’re uncertain whether the food is safe for children.) Here are some of my favorite foods to strengthen immunity: citrus fruits, broccoli, garlic, ginger, almonds, kiwi, sunflower seeds, and green tea.
Try family yoga and meditating
One of the most incredible things I’ve seen through this crisis is the ability for so many businesses and services to adjust and bring things online. My savior has been online yoga. HYP Yoga and Pilates (locations in Needham and Wellesley) has moved all its classes online, and it’s been glorious. They have kids classes as well. Peloton is another option. They have an online app that normally costs $12 per month — right now they’re offering three months for free. They have their regular cycle classes but now also offer meditation, yoga, boot camps, and more. The local JCC is offering classes, guided meditations, and more.
One key to immunity strength is calming the nervous system to remove chronic stress hormones from wreaking havoc on your body. Meditation and yoga are a great place to start to learn grounding techniques that beef up your prefrontal cortex and allow stress hormones like excess cortisol and adrenaline to get excreted from your body.
Use the Mood Meter app
The Mood Meter app helps you identify, regulate, and differentiate emotions. You will learn strategies and tools to respond to your emotions rather than get swept up in them. Over time, this, too, will boost your immunity.
According to this CNN article, hydration is one of the immunity boosters that might be more important right now than ever. Even minor dehydration can be a stressor to the body and cause it to work extra hard to release toxins and other things our body absorbs in our foods and in our environment.
I know you’re all struggling with sleep right now. I’m up at least twice a night myself, either with a bad dream or worries or with a child waking me for the same. I get it. But there are things we can do to optimize our sleep to give us the best fighting chance. Here are a few of the ways I coach my clients to support better sleep hygiene through ritual.
- Write in a worry journal before bed. Get it all out on paper to worry about the next day.
- Put lavender oil on your pillow.
- Take an epsom salt bath.
- Stretch or do yoga before bed.
- Get calm.com and listen to sleep stories (my kids love this).
- Do a nightly body scan to determine where your body is feeling stress, and use breathwork to work through it.
Good luck, everyone. Stay safe. Take your probiotics. Check in on your neighbors and communities. We’ll get through this. We may become more world-weary, we may obsess over hand sanitizer and outlaw hand shaking, but we will also emerge stronger, more aware, and hopefully more loving and nurturing as a society.