The nights are chillier, a new school year begins, and the first round of fall colds is just around the corner. Some of you might be eagerly anticipating (or dreading) this new season. Added responsibilities and newness can mean more stress.
Google “stress” and this pops up: “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” It seems that simply existing, no matter what time of year, guarantees that we are experiencing stress in one way or another. If stress is stepping on your toes, then the only logical choice is to learn to dance with it. Keep your head up and don’t look at your feet! Some stress in life is necessary; never having any stress is just as imbalanced as having too much.
Here are three tips to help keep your immune system balanced as you move into fall. If you tend to become overwhelmed at the thought of yet another to-do list, pick the easiest item for you and have it be your focus for the next month.
- Be mindful
Awareness is key. We get distracted with daily tasks, family, work, and the ubiquitous but necessary technology that accompanies. Being mindful of your experience of life is a deceptively simple concept, but it has far-reaching benefits for our immune system, clarity of thought and relationships. The scholarly journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience published an article about just this.1 They discuss the concept of neuroplasticity; that you can rewire the pathways of the nerve cells in your brain over time, simply by changing your thought patterns. Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective for depression, anxiety and other mental imbalances. I have found it most helpful to get into the habit of detached self-observation, as if I was watching someone I have no real emotional investment in. Over time, I have been able to be aware of my own thoughts and actions while feeling much less guilt, depression and anxiety. When you aren’t burdened by guilt, you’re more likely to take positive action.
Dr. Bruce Lipton, a developmental biologist, theorizes that our perceptions can affect which of our genes are expressed. You can’t just chalk it up to the genetics you were passed on anymore! If anything, this is very empowering.
- Keep hydrated
As referenced in this post, we are mostly water, and it can be a challenge to remember to drink enough. A minimum of two liters of filtered water should be consumed daily by most adults. Drinking half a liter upon waking is a good habit to get into. This will stimulate the involuntary movement of your digestive tract muscles, helping to keep you regular. Add the juice of half a lemon to stimulate digestive juices and enzyme production in your liver. By the time you leave the house, you’re a quarter of the way there! It’s helpful to keep up your intake of vegetables and fruits, as they contribute even more water and fiber.
- Eat your healthy fats
Every one of our trillions of cells has a membrane made of fat. The strength of our cell membranes determines in part whether a pathogen (such a fall cold virus!) will be able to penetrate it and make us sick. It affects our nervous system and brain function; each nerve cell is coated by a myelin sheath made of fat and protein. It can be likened to electrical tape on a wire that makes signal transduction faster. Fats are also needed for us to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. Malabsorption of these nutrients resulting from a low-fat diet affects immune system function, calcium absorption and is linked to dry, flaky skin. Omega-3 essential fatty acids found in foods like cold-water fish, walnuts, and seeds (flax, hemp, chia, etc.) are great choices. Supplementing with a high quality fish oil is a convenient option. Our bodies cannot synthesize these fatty acids, hence they are essential. Flax oil or Udo’s Oil is an alternative to fish oil if you are a vegetarian.
Getting a handle on stress is an ongoing challenge for most. These suggestions are by no means new or original, but getting back to the basics is where we can strengthen our foundation for a healthy mind, body and spirit. An energetic tune-up is a way to kick-start things if you are feeling especially out of balance. Book your appointment for HK or Matrix Energetics.
Also, remember to increase your vitamin D supplementation as the days shorten and the weather gets colder. You won’t be getting it from the sun in our northern climate. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, it is best to either take your vitamin D with a meal that contains fat, or find a supplement that is oil-based.
1Mindfulness training and neural integration: differentiation of distinct streams of awareness and the cultivation of well-being http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/2/4/259.full