Updated: Apr 12, 2020
Resiliency definition - the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
The topic of resiliency and immune system health are in the air right now. As the media focuses more and more on what is happening in the world with the spread of of COVID-19 it is a good time to shift some of the focus back to what we can control, which is our own health, strength and well being. With all this extra time we may have on our hands, our own resilience is something worth studying and we could all become very well versed in this topic by the time the pandemic passes. If we can use this time to strengthen our immune system and become more resilient, we can give ourselves some insurance against illness from an event like this in the future. This is not a complete list but is based on our own experiences and research, some of which is cited below. If you have anything to contribute please let us know and we are happy to add to the discussion or refine.
So let's get to it.
The immune system isn't any one thing or system but is made up of many systems within us and these systems can be trained in the natural world to become stronger and more resilient. This is vital as we self isolate which tends to result in us being indoors a lot and often times sacrificing some of our basic human needs required to thrive as an optimal healthy human being. There is a lack of discussion in the media around changing how we live and interact with nature and the focus can be more on hiding away and continuing as is while waiting for pharmaceutical solutions.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger and this is the test we have been waiting for. If you haven't been training for this, then why not start now? Let's become stronger and get through this situation and become better prepared for future illnesses. A lot of what is suggested below involves going outside which is natural for us humans. If we choose to stay indoors more we must be careful to not lose some of our most basic human needs - sunlight, natural movement, human touch, fresh air, clean pure water, nourishing fresh food from the soils of the earth etc. If our basic needs are not met it will be very difficult to be healthy and feel fully alive. Let's discuss some of these.
Reducing stress and worry
With all the fear in the air right now this is very important. The threat that is in our mind often doesn't match the actual physical threat. The threat increases as we worry because we become weaker and less resilient. We tend to underestimate the impact of stress and worry on our health.
When we're stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced, making us more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes). Read more on this below.
So if we're worried about a threat, the threat becomes more of a threat.
Sunlight produces Vitamin D which strengthens our immune system. Let's microdose a few rays of sun if we can't be out for long stints right now.
We are sanitizing a lot right now. Sanitizing after using a public door nob might make sense but getting dirty in the soil of mother nature is still good for our immune system. The quality of soil is decreasing rapidly from our ways of living so let's enjoy it while it is still abundantly available. You can do some pushups on the grass, walk barefoot or if you can't or don't want to go outside maybe you could try bringing some different soils inside to play with. Of course some people do have to quarantine for a short time, but keep in mind that not going outside AT ALL is quite detrimental to human health and could leave people less healthy than they were pre-pandemic.
We are made for a variety of temperatures. In recent years this has changed drastically as we introduced thermostats, gortex clothing and many ways to heat up quickly in our cars and elsewhere. We have insulated ourselves from nature quite quickly operating in a narrow band of controlled temperature. We have built in mechanisms to adapt to temperature variation such as sweating, which most animals don't do well like us. We can even outrun a horse in a marathon on a hot day because we have the ability to sweat. Pretty cool huh?
Our blood vessels open and close as the temperature changes without us thinking in order to keep our core temperature stable. We also shiver and move our bodies to create heat and we have built in brown fat as a reserve to produce heat quickly. In short, we are not made to live inside in a 20° C house. I challenge to you to find ways to vary the temperature you are in on a daily basis.
Check out this quick video I made recently - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjSsiN1Hj3k
Humans survive on air. It is our number one most critical supply of life force and energy. We can last weeks without food, days without water and only minutes without air. Breathing is one of the only bodily functions that is both voluntary and involuntary. We can consciously control our breathing to strengthen our respiratory system and directly influence the nervous system. One minute of calm regulated breathing can reduce stress which positively impacts the nervous system and the immune system since stress weakens the immune system. Deep breathing strengthens our circulation system, reduces inflammation and improves digestion of nutrients. There are many ways to breathe and many styles of breathwork with their own unique benefits.
Check out our breathwork videos on YouTube here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy_BeMSr4hk&t=1s
Some of our virtual Breathwork offerings here: https://www.thestretchspace.com/breathwork
We really like this video about breathwork and the immune system from one of my breath teachers Wim Hof - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6jqaALpEFM
Breathing through the nose produces nitric oxide which increases oxygen uptake. According to the article below nasal breathing can inhibit Sars-coronavirus which has similarities to what is currently going around. The article proposes nitric oxide to be pumped in artificially. I can't claim nasal breathing to be as effective, but this suggests it would be quite helpful. In addition nose breathing has filtration and smaller holes to breathe in any unwanted particles.
Nasal breathing video - https://buteykoclinic.com/corona-virus/
Something more academic to back this up -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15234326
Quantity of water is important but quality of water is becoming critical too. We are 70% water and our brains are up to 85% water. Try to test the quality of the water you are drinking at home and see if you can improve the source or quality through quality filtration. We use and distribute Kangen water at The Stretch Space and it's all we drink. If you're interested in knowing more about these drop us a line.
You can use sites like this below or purchase a water testing kit or do some googling and ask around. Improving the quality of your water is a low hanging fruit to boosting your health. It's just a decision and possibly some upfront cost. Bottled water is mostly not good quality water by the way. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/
Eat food from the earth in as close to it's original form as possible. Ideally it should come from healthy soils and not be processed or altered by us humans as much as possible. There are some suggestions to stock up on dried food and meat right now but we recommend to fill your freezer with fresh vegetables and supplement with meat and whatever else as you need. Fresh nutrient dense food is what we need right now. With efficient breathing and many of the suggestions above nutrients can be more easily absorbed. We are what we absorb (not only what we eat).
Keep in mind that factory animal conditions may have played a role in the start of the current virus so it's a good argument to avoid factory farmed meat right now or in general.
This is a basic need as is physical human touch. If you are alone and isolated then utilize technology such as Zoom or Facetime or Skype to maintain connections. If you do not have anyone with you then human touch will be difficult. Perhaps it could be a good time to get a pet. If that fails and this might sound strange but it is recommended to provide touch to yourself in a gentle way. Do some self massage, apply lotions a little slower etc. Our skin and sensory system are designed for human touch so we may have to think outside the box. As we separate in physical distance there is no need to become fearful of other humans. Share the love with others in any way that you can. Smile, laugh, get creative with how to acknowledge each other without contact, we all could do with the boost.
Power of the Mind
This one is huge. If we believe we are healthy and strong we are more likely to be so. The placebo effect is very well known in the medical world. Drugs must be tested to be more effective than merely taking a sugar pill that is believed to be a real pill. We know it is powerful but we don't often use it to our advantage. Also there are studies of people reporting symptoms from imagined threats that were exaggerated or not present - see below link from Huffington Post.
"Expectation of negative effects can increase likelihood of experiencing symptoms / Media needs to be more responsible when warning about health risks."
Wim Hof Method | "Brain over Body" Michigan Study - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YficBlvPwWQ
Some peoples response to meditating our way through these times is - 'Come on, yea right let's get real' since we are in a serious pandemic now. Meditation can still help and there are many scientific studies to back up it's powerful healing effects. It can have a significant positive impact on our self healing, brain health and general well being as the below studies show. As we self isolate it's important to be influenced by our own internal signals and from nature at least as much as the media and other sources.
Movement is medicine and we are made to move. Move in ways that we have done for many many years. If staying indoors a lot try to get off flat human made surfaces and replicate an outdoor environment. The gyms are closed and now is the time to mix things up and disrupt your patterns. Try diverse movement that get the joints moving in many directions with varying loads and pace. This makes us less susceptible to injuries that can drain us of healing energy. Movement keeps our circulation system flowing with nutrients and helps us to discard of waste. Don't be afraid to look silly :)
This is an area we are very passionate about. When we are open again come in an we'll jump start your movement or check out one of our online offerings and we can help you craft a diverse routine. Check out our YouTube Channel for some movement routines like this one - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4PFUdnWY3E
Media and Opinions
Why did this all happen? I don't know. It's all a bit odd. Regardless whatever the conclusion is, the challenge we face is an encouraging reminder to do our part to become more resilient and to strengthen our own immune systems. We are what we read and listen to and absorb. Often times we can engage in lower frequency and more problem than solution focused discussions and information. This can impact our breath patterns and stress levels and also how we show up in the world. How we do anything is how we do everything. So if we are spending a lot of time trying to figure out what happened and why and it is impacting us negatively then remember that what we need most is love and connection and our basic needs to stay healthy. Absorb content that uplifts you. Differing views shouldn't create separation between us. Now more than ever we must bond together and support each other and be kind.
This is a challenging time. Never before have we had this level of global shutdown and lifestyle restriction. It is our duty to fight for our health, our immune systems, our basic human needs and to fight for our communities as we have known them. If we sit back and assume everything will be back to normal in a few weeks we may be surprised to find many small businesses we love have closed, immune systems have been compromised from our lifestyles while in isolation, some liberties may be removed and the fear in the air may not dissipate like we expected.
It's up to us. This is a time when our patterns and habits are disrupted. The question is how do we want to rebuild our behaviors and habits? What lasting changes do we want to implement into our routines? This time can encourage us to ask some bigger, deeper and even philosophical questions. What are human beings actually capable of? What are our self healing capabilities? Look to any survival story for some clues to answer these and other questions. When humans have our backs to the wall and we bond together we are capable of so much more than we think.
Do you have any helpful tips that we could we add in here? Please reach out and let us know. Comment below and let us know your thoughts.
In happiness, resiliency and strength.