It is the time of the year when people start sniffing and feeling under the weather. Kids are coming home from school with runny noses and coughing all over the dinner table, and any forward bends in a yoga class is unbearable as it feels like you are drowning in your own mucus.
It’s interesting because I’m following a documentary series at the moment, Transcendence, and it refers to the fact that at least 90% of diseases right now are due to lifestyle factors. This was pretty much the statistic when I was lecturing over 25 years ago. What I wonder is whether the flu, the winter sniffles is also down to lifestyle.
The common thread is the word Stress. I honestly feel that most people are in a constant state of overwhelm and stress, without realising that they are. In fact, they probably feel that it’s normal. Stress in itself is a good thing. Stress is needed for growth. What is detrimental is our perception of stress, and of the situation that we find ourselves in.
Stress hormones compromise our immune system, thereby impacting on the various organs and affecting them on functioning at optimal levels. There is also the long-term effect on our nervous and cardiovascular systems. And so, we can really benefit from changing our perspective on what is stress.
In the Chinese language, there is no specific character for Stress. Instead, it is made up of two characters, one indicating Opportunity, and the other, Threat. Think about it. When you are confronted with a situation, you will assess the situation very quickly in your mind on whether it is an opportunity, or a threat. Usain Bolt will see the 100m race an an opportunity. Pink will see going on stage to perform as an opportunity. For someone else, those situations could be perceived as threats. In either case, the physiological responses are the same. Heart rate increases, respiration quickens, sweaty palms, feeling on edge. Depending on how we read these signs, we can use them to help us perform or run.
So, here are some tips I hope you find useful in helping you feel well and boost your immune system:
- Change your perception of stress by re-framing the situation and asking yourself if it is an opportunity or threat. If it is an opportunity, embrace it wholeheartedly. If it is a threat, say “no” and let it go.
- Eat whole foods and move away from processed foods. Nourish your body well so that it is able to fight off any viruses. If you’re considering going plant based, there is a free new app that can help you on your journey. The free VeGuide app is now available on Android and iOS devices.
- Spend a few minutes each morning doing some deep breathing. Take deep, full, luxurious breaths to oxygenate your body. Give this breath ratio a go … 1:1:2:0. As an example, breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds. Do this 10 times per day.
- Meditate or have some quiet time. A simple thing to do is sit comfortably, as you inhale, silently repeat in your mind, “I am breathing in.” On the exhalation, silently repeat, “I am breathing out.” Do this for 5-10 minutes a couple of times a day.
- Yoga therapy suggests that colds and flu result from poor digestion or an energy imbalance originating in the digestive tract. Poses that gently compress, twist, or extend the belly can help a host of digestive ailments.
I really believe that you do not know what “well” feels like, until you actually feel well.
Give your wellness a chance this month and let me know how you get on.