As if the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases is not enough, we’re also coming up against the annual cold and flu season. It will be hard for Americans (and doctors) to tell the difference without testing for the coronavirus and the various types of influenza viruses. The best way to get through the season? Try not to get sick.
You can do your part following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, such as social distancing, wearing a mask and frequently washing your hands, but there are a few things you can be doing – or may already be doing – that offer a surprising boost to your immune system.
If you enjoy the feeling you get helping others, you may be inspired to continue lending a hand or making someone smile. That’s not selfish – it’s human nature. But did you know that acts of kindness or volunteering your time actually help keep you in good health? Imagine it as a domino effect, with one action leading to several outcomes. Delivering a meal to someone, taking care of a task or offering your assistance to an individual or nonprofit increases the brain’s production of brain chemicals, like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins, making you feel happier and less stressed. Less stress means better sleep. And better sleep means, you guessed it, better health. When we are sleeping, or simply just resting, our bodies and minds have time to recover and our immune systems get a healthy boost. It’s a win-win!
The breath often goes unnoticed, but if you’re like most people, you’re paying attention to what you’re breathing in lately. This is important when you’re spending time in public, but have you ever considered how the air in your living space may be affecting your health? Pollutants like lead in old paint, radon in certain areas of soil, pesticides, household cleansers and disinfectants, dust mites and pet dander can all affect our health. But you can make active choices to ensure you and your family members aren’t destroying your own health. Put plants around the house for a natural way to cleanse the air, invest in an air purifier, choose to clean with natural cleaning products like lemon and baking soda, and avoid spraying harsh chemicals for insects.
It’s difficult these days to connect with others, let alone get involved in the community in meaningful ways. But as the pandemic continues to ravage the country, people are getting creative. It’s still possible to become involved either as a volunteer or through ways that serve as a creative outlet. This serves two important purposes: 1. It allows you to feel like you’re a part of something bigger and 2. It creates a circle of supporters that you can trust and turn to when facing hard times, such as a pandemic. Your community may look different than that of others, but investing your time now in finding “your people” could provide long-term health support for years to come.