Keep calm and love your immune system

From personal experience, training and research in bio-medicine, nutrition and NLP, I have learned that we have an amazing immune system that works hard, all the time, to keep us in a state of health. When we give it the right environment to do so, it will thrive. When we don’t, it can’t function so well. We can ‘feed’ it with food and water that will nourish every cell, tissue and organ or we can feed it foods that harm it. And that’s not all. When we are stressed we activate the fear centre in the brain and this leads to a downgrading of the immune system. The opposite is also true. When we are calm, relaxed, happy – those wonderful, clever immune cells get a boost, renew, repair, re-energise and get to work for us, protecting our health, just as they are designed to do.

As a wellbeing coach, I do my best to live by the principles I believe in, to practice what I preach. And yet in these last couple of months, especially the last few weeks, I too have had my ‘wobbles’. On top of the ‘noise’ of all that is happening in the world, I’ve had a family bereavement and other personal tricky moments that have meant I’ve felt ‘off kilter’ at times. For us coaches, there is often an expectation that we know better, that we live this life of peace and harmony – all the time. Let me tell you, unless you’re living a life of devotion on top of a mountain, that’s not true! I came into this career because I’d been chronically stressed for years and ended up with cancer, so calmness and peace don’t always come naturally to me, yet. They take daily, conscious practice. I do it though, because, I want to not just survive, but thrive. If I can do it, so can you.

In these testing times when most of what we’re hearing, seeing or reading is about this pandemic, restrictions and fears for the future, as well as dealing with day to day challenges in all of our lives, it can feel overwhelming, frightening, and sometimes out of our control.

When I feel this way, I draw on what I know and believe in, in order to interrupt the patterns of anxiety, worry and stress and bring myself back into a state of balance and calm. I now know that we have a choice. We don’t have to be victims of our thoughts and emotions. We can learn to notice how we feel, become more conscious of what we’re thinking and then draw on a range of resources; tools in our mental and emotional toolbox, and use them to change our state of wellbeing.

Each of us have different ‘tools’ that will work for us, and that’s OK. Here’s a few of mine, tried and tested, so if you need a few more, give them a go. It helps to physically move, letting the brain know that it’s interrupting the pattern, so I get up, move around, look out of the window or take myself out of the house and walk in nature. I talk to those I love and tell them how I feel, listen to my favourite music (I’ve got a playlist for different moods), exercise in whatever way feels right for me at the time, meditate – even if it’s just 5 minutes or an hour of Joe Dispenza, practice gratitude (it really works!), cook (food really is medicine), read, watch something funny or listen to one of my ‘go-to guru’s’, anything, to shift my state.

Many of these ‘tools’ are about reconnecting with the heart. There’s some wonderful research being done at the HeartMath Institute, something I’ve looked into in more depth recently and I’ve noticed that when I practice the simple heart-brain coherance techniques, I feel calmer. The science is fascinating and shows that, when we switch our focus and feelings from fear to love, joy, gratitude or compassion we instantly switch of the hormones of stress and around 1400 different chemicals get released instead. These not only make us feel better, they renew, repair and energise our immune systems too.

I’ve learned that I have a choice to see the world as a safe or scary place. I’m not in denial, I know that there are scary things happening, most of which I can’t control. What I can control is what I focus on. Energy flows where focus goes and I’d rather focus on the good, the people doing great things, being amazing and compassionate and most importantly, the things I can control such as my wonderful intelligent, complex immune system that has been serving us modern humans well for 200,000 years, and giving it the right environment to thrive.

The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe” Albert Einstein

We can of course choose to sit back, live in fear, wait, ‘outsource’ our health as if there’s nothing we can do to help ourselves. I’ve felt sad and dismayed to hear several people recently say “if I get this virus, I’m done for”. What a frightening belief to have, when around the world, many elderly people, and those considered ‘seriously at risk’ are recovering well. We hear less about these people though and sadly, some are learning to believe they are ‘doomed’.

Alternatively, we can choose to see this pandemic as a wake up call to improve both our minds and bodies, to ‘up the odds’ of protecting ourselves and making our wellbeing more of a priority than we have in the past. To understand that whilst we obey the rules and protect each other at the moment, we can, at the same time, start to take better care of ourselves, feel purposeful and positive about our health and remind ourselves what powerful, resilient, creatures we humans are.

We can choose to love ourselves enough to nourish our bodies through food and nurture our minds in ways that will give the immune system what it needs to thrive. We can remind ourselves of what we’ve forgotten over generations and reconnect with our own healing.

In this video, I’ll give you a few ideas of how you can start the journey, take small steps to building a resilient immune system, through choosing what to eat and reducing stress, to serve you well now and in the long run. It may take a shift in thinking, doing things a bit differently but won’t it be worth it to feel it’s in our control to live a more contented, healthier life?


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