“The number of prescriptions filled for anti-anxiety drugs spiked 34% and orders for anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia medications also increased from mid-February to mid-March and peaked around March 15, according to a new report released Thursday.
The increase “demonstrates the serious impact COVID-19 may be having on our nation’s mental health,”…
While not totally surprising, it’s still a sad statement and in many ways could have been avoided. I’m not going to debate the necessity of the stay-at-home orders. My research and findings are about how we can all stay sane and keep our immune systems healthy and happy.
Everywhere I have looked, I continue to see references to immunity. The vast majority of deaths attributed to the virus were people who had one or several underlying health issues and therefore were immunosuppressed. So, obviously, staying healthy means maintaining a healthy immune system.
Let’s start by looking at some of the signs and symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety and fear.
Stress and Chronic Stress
Irritability, which can be extreme
a perceived loss of control
frequent infections or illnesses
Find more information about stress at webmd.com here
Loss of interest in otherwise pleasurable things
Feelings of hopelessness
Aches, pains, cramps
Changes in appetite or weight
Find more information about depression at healthline.com here
increase in blood pressure
muscle aches and other pains
Find more information about anxiety at healthline.com here
shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
pain or tightness in the chest
headaches, dizziness, feeling faint
confusion or disorientation
fear of losing control
feelings of dread
fear of dying
Find more information about fear/phobia at nhs.uk here
After researching and compiling these lists, what I find most interesting is the similarity between all four. When you review the lists, do any of these sound familiar? I think most of us would (sadly) have to say “yes.”
If you are experiencing many of the symptoms from any of these lists, I hope you will seek professional help. I am not a doctor — and I don’t even play one on TV — my goal here is to provide information that might prompt you to do some research to help improve your own personal condition. Another goal is to help you find NATURAL ways to help calm you and improve your overall well being, which can also boost your natural immunity.
So, how can we improve these symptoms of stress, depression anxiety and fear so that we feel better AND help boost our immune systems?
This one didn’t make any of the lists, but I think it should: turn off the “news”!!
“It’s important where you get your news” someone recently told me. I couldn’t agree more. But instead of arguing about which talking head is telling us fact or fiction, how about we just turn them ALL off? Ingesting too much “news” is a major culprit of increased stress, anxiety, depression and fear. Sadly, instilling fear seems to be one of MSM’s (main stream media) favorite games these days. Tuning OUT/turning OFF all of the chatter will be helpful to all of us.
#1 on many lists: Be Observant.
I like this one. Instead of ignoring your body, listen to it! Check the list of signs and symptoms again – my guess is that you will find a few things that you are struggling with. Understanding what is happening might help you find the right solution to feel “better” or “normal” again. Hopefully some of the suggestions offered here will help you manage and improve the symptoms.
I recently wrote an article about how to boost your immune system. Interestingly, the list to help you reduce stress, anxiety, depression and fear has a few crossovers to the list I wrote to help boost your immune system. Check out the list here and think about adding a few of the activities to your daily routine. Hopefully, that list and the suggestions I offer here will not only help you feel more relaxed mentally and physically, but will also strengthen your immune system.
Get Outside and Exercise
This one is so important that in addition to the article I wrote about boosting your immune system, I felt compelled to include it here too. Just about every article I read about how to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and fear included exercise. Why is that? Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones – such as cortisol – and helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
I don’t know about you, but there were several nights when I was really struggling to sleep. My mind was racing, and I was unable to shut it down. Luckily, my 3-ish mile morning walks with my dogs allows me the opportunity for fresh air, sunshine, time to think/meditate and to give me the ability to commune with nature and neighbors. Pippin’s energy now has us doing an additional 30-minute walk at night and it has really helped me to shake off much of the day’s stress. All very good stuff.
So, take a walk, get on a bike, dance to your favorite music or practice yoga. All of these activities will help improve your mind and body. And, if you are outside, you get the extra benefits of fresh air and sunshine – both HUGE immune system boosters.
Check out more great information about how exercise can reduce stress from the Mayo Clinic here.
Read a Good Book
When was the last time you visited a library? I know most of us will buy online but there is something truly awesome about a library. If you don’t want to leave your house, there are a gazillion online outlets for downloading books to read and books to listen to. I recently discovered Chirp, which offers discount audiobooks. First, I downloaded several self improvement books and then I treated myself to a classic and one of my favorites – A Tale of Two Cities. For almost 17 hours, I was consumed by the awesomeness that is Charles Dickens. If you haven’t read a classic in a while (or ever) I highly recommend you pick one and learn why it has withstood the test of time. Here are some great options.
Get your hands dirty and grow something!
“Getting your hands dirty is actually a good thing. The more soil you get under your fingernails, the more you are exposing yourself to bacteria. And, the more bacteria you expose your system to, the harder it will be for them to invade your body.”
Lucky for me, I seem to have inherited a green thumb. Both of my grandmothers were gardeners and if you drive by my mom’s house, there is no doubt that she loves the chaos of flowers of every color beautifully arranged around her yard. And, I don’t know about you, but I just can’t wear gloves when I am working in the yard. I need to *feel* the dirt and the roots and leaves and the flowers. My guess is I have probably ingested a bunch of dirt along the way too – not on purpose, but if you have dirt/potting soil up to your elbows and your nose itches, things happen. Turns out that can be helpful too. I absolutely love this.
Another great thing about gardening, as if there aren’t enough great things already, is that when you are busy digging and planting and watering and enjoying, you are actually doing a form of meditation, which will help to create a sense of calmness and well being. My Grandma Mitchell used to hum while she was gardening. Maybe you will too.
Learn a New Language
If someone could explain the allure of Candy Crush, or any repetitive “game” like that, I would appreciate it. If I have some free time, I prefer to read and actually learn something. A few years ago, I discovered Duolingo – a free program that will systematically guide you through the process of learning to read and speak a new language. I kinda fell off the wagon when I had my hip surgery, but I am hoping to pick it back up soon. I really enjoyed the learning process. So maybe try Spanish one week, French the next week and one of the 22 other languages they offer during the third week and then decide which one really speaks to you. (Ha – pun intended). You can get started here.
So there you go – SIX great ideas to help you relax, refocus, and reenergize:
Tune out the Noise.
Pay attention to You.
Move your Body.
Engage your Mind.
Learn something New.
I hope this information will help you find something that will calm your mind, body and soul. There are links to just about every source I found/used, but if you would like more information about anything listed here, please feel free to contact me.
As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, there is so much uncertainty about what’s to come. What we do know, however, is that roughly 98% of the people who contract this virus will recover. That’s great news. Sadly, for the 2% who succumb to this disease, one of the words we continue to hear is that the majority had some sort of Immunosuppression. In other words, they were struggling with other health issues like hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and obesity.
We are constantly exposed to infectious diseases, bacteria and viruses (antigens), all intent on running amok and wreaking havoc. Without any built-in defenses to keep these invaders at bay, we’d all last about five minutes on this planet. Thank goodness we have an immune system. A strong immune system is the backbone of overall good health and the best way to keep us from getting sick or at the very least from staying sick. I have done some research into the immune system – what it is and how we can keep it as robust as possible. I hope you find this information helpful.
Definition of immune system: the bodily system that protects the body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues by producing the immune response and that includes especially the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, special deposits of lymphoid tissue (as in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow), macrophages, lymphocytes including the B cells and T cells, and antibodies
Definition of immune response: a bodily response to an antigen that occurs when lymphocytes identify the antigenic molecule as foreign and induce the formation of antibodies and lymphocytes capable of reacting with it and rendering it harmless
Our immune system is an amazing and very complex network designed to fight off any viruses and bacteria that our body comes in contact with each and every day. However, if our immune system is weak, dysfunctional or unbalanced, when we are faced with a virus or bacteria instead of combating the “bug” easily, our immune system can go into hyperdrive creating what’s called a cytokine storm. At this point, our body is attacking itself. Learn more about the cytokine storm here.
Here are some easy ways we can show our immune system some love and keep it working at its best:
Wash your hands.
Yep – we have all heard this a lot lately, but it’s a great start to keep the bad stuff from entering our system. Be sure to wash for at least 20 seconds using good old-fashioned soap. Living with dogs and feeding raw, I usually wash my hands a lot anyway. Now I am making sure to wash a lot more frequently and more thoroughly. Learn more about the CDC’s guidelines for hand washing here.
Get enough sleep.
Sigh … seems like we are all struggling with this. I know I feel better when I have a decent night’s sleep. My Fitbit tells me that my sleep pattern is cyclical. Several “fair” or “good” nights followed by 3-4 “poor” nights. Quieting my mind seems to be my nemesis. However, when it comes to our health, sleep plays an important role. While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent us from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect our immune system, leaving us susceptible to a bad cold or case of the flu. In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night.
Sleep is also important because our bodies are busy repairing and building our immunity to thrive. Our damaged tissues and cells are being healed and restored. If we don’t get the right amount of sleep, then we are more susceptible to disease and infections. Learn more about how sleep can help our immune system here.
True confession – I used to smoke – a total of maybe 5 or 6 cigarettes in my 20s. That’s about all I could tolerate. For those who do still smoke, you should know that the cold you just can’t seem to shake might actually be hanging around due to your smoking habit. Not only does smoking cause serious health conditions like cancer, but it also lessens your body’s immune response, making you more susceptible to infections. You may also find it harder to shake everyday illnesses that are no big deal to most healthy adults. Tobacco products damage virtually every system of the body, and the immune system is no different. Read about the ways smoking affects the Immune System here.
Find ways to manage your stress.
My life hasn’t really changed that much with this “pandemic”. I am self employed and have worked out of my house for almost 30 years. However, it has changed enough. And, the more I read and learn, I am really concerned about what life will look like in a few months, not only for me but for the rest of the world. This has caused many sleepless nights (see above).
Interestingly, short-term stress, the “fight or flight” response, can actually stimulate your immune activity. The immune system is crucial for wound healing and preventing or fighting infection. Read more about this interesting study here.
Keep in mind that today, we are not really dealing with short-term stress but the long-term kind that throws our bodies out of whack. What we should be striving for is homeostasis. Learn more about homeostasis here.
Our bodies are better at fighting infections and viruses when they are not also dealing with emotional and psychological stress. Today, it feels like we are all struggling with emotional and psychological stress by staying at home, staying away from friends and sometimes family and not knowing when or how this will “end”.
Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Because the effects of stress are cumulative, even ordinary, day-to-day activities can eventually lead to more serious health issues. High stress levels also can cause depression and anxiety, again leading to higher levels of inflammation. In the long-term, sustained, high levels of inflammation point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect us.
Find is a great list of things you can do to reduce stress here.
Eating “well” does not mean eating a lot. It means eating the most nutritious and appropriate foods to fuel our bodies.
“We can really boost our immunity through diet alone. Consistent intake of the micronutrients that help our bodies fight disease, is a natural solution to infection prevention,” says Cassie Majestic, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, California. “Micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, are vital to disease-prevention and health development.”
Eating well also means cutting out or at least cutting back on processed sugar. Sadly, there is sugar hidden in so many otherwise “good” foods. It makes me crazy to check ingredients on items like peanut butter only to find that sugar is the SECOND ingredient on some popular brands. Really? Time to start reading labels! Recently, I discovered Crazy Richard’s peanut butter – originally purchased for the dogs but I think it’s the best flavored peanut butter that I have ever tasted. What’s in it? Peanuts. Go figure. Check out Crazy Richard’s All Natural Peanut Butter here.
Add Vitamins to your Diet.
In a perfect world, we would eat a perfect diet and our food would supply every nutrient our bodies needed. While I do try to eat well, it is far from “perfect” … whatever that means. My mom started us on vitamins when we were kids and I have taken supplements most of my life.
Here’s the bulk of what I currently take – I buy these from my holistic chiropractor.
Start with a good multi: Catalyn by Standard Process. Find more info here.
Add a great Vitamin C: Optimal Liposomal Vitamin C by Seeking Health. Find more info here.
And the more I learn, adding Vitamin D3 is essential. Check out Metagenics with added Vitamin K here.
Some specific information about Vitamin D3 (found on the Medical Newspress website):
One of vitamin D’s most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause illness. Vitamin D plays an important role in immune function.
2 things you NEED to know when selecting a D3 supplement:
1. Never take Vitamin D without Vitamin K2
Just as important as vitamin D3 is taking vitamin K2! Taking Vitamin D without vitamin K could actually be harmful to your health!
When it comes to calcium metabolism, vitamins D and K work together. Both play important roles. Vitamin D gets calcium into your blood and Vitamin K gets it to the bones and prevents the calcium from accumulating in your arteries, kidneys or heart.
You don’t want rogue calcium going to the wrong places, causing joint stiffness or arterial plaque. Vitamin K2 insures that your body uses calcium properly.
2. Most D3 Supplements are NOT absorbable.
When D3 cannot be absorbed, your body is unable to assimilate. So, do your research and find one that is absorbable for maximum benefits.
Find a full list of important vitamins and minerals that you should think about adding to your diet here.
Get off the sofa and exercise.
Here’s a headline for you:
Hospital analysis finds nearly 50% obesity in small sample of COVID-19 patients
Data was provided for 178 patients, about 12 percent. Of that group, 90 percent had an underlying medical condition, including:
Chronic lung disease: 34.6%
Cardiovascular disease: 27.8%
For patients aged 18 to 49, obesity was the most prevalent underlying condition, according to the study. Nearly 60 percent of those hospitalized were obese. Read the entire article here.
Walking has been my form of exercise for over 20 years. I figure that as long as I am able to put one foot in front of the other, I will walk every day … hopefully with a few dogs. Two years ago, when my bad hip was so very painful, I was still walking my dogs. And, even with the current “pandemic”, I am walking each day soaking up fresh air and sunshine and racking up some serious Steps. Find a great list of how walking is beneficial here.
If you have the ability to get out of your house, please DO! Keeping up regular, daily exercise at a time when much of the world is in isolation will play an important role in helping to maintain a healthy immune system. Learn more about how exercise helps maintain our immune system here.
And last, but definitely not least, find a really good CBD product and take it every day.
A couple of years ago, a remarkable thing happened when CBD became legal in all 50 of the US states. If you remove CBD from the THC coming from the cannabis plant or the hemp plant CBD is now legal to use as a nutritional supplement. Since that time, of course, the market has exploded with interest and this conversation today is about the physiological effects of CBD on the human body. Truly, CBD is not just another nutritional supplement.
CBD tends to be very effective in strengthening the immune system. CBD is an immune suppressor, so it has positive effects when the immune system becomes hyperactive or weakened. A hyperactive immune system causes overreaction when met with allergens or diseases and can even self-harm the body. This is the cytokine storm that I mentioned earlier.
The endocannabinoid system is said to control and regulate the proper balance between humoral and cell-mediated responses. Therefore, the stimulation of ECS through active cannabinoids like CBD helps in enhancing the health, balance, responsivity and functions of the immune’s system. The CBD and ECS are extremely involved in maintaining the optimal functioning immune system.
The Zilis UltraCell CBD is a great addition to help keep your immune system running smoothly and at it’s best. With the high absorption rate of between 85-94%, we get the full benefit of each and every drop. Check out the full line of Zilis CBD and CBG products here. If you would like to try any of the products you can order directly at Zilis.com/lisagraham or you can contact me for more information.
If you would like to dig deeper into how CBD helps improve the immune system, here are a few more resources:
I hope this list will be a resource for you to learn many of the natural ways that you can improve your own immune system. In addition to helping fight off the current coronavirus, for better general overall health, you will do yourself and your immune system a big favor if you implement most of these suggestions.