Self-care is always a good idea, but it’s especially important right now. COVID-19 (aka, novel coronavirus 2019) is all over the news. In fact, it’s hard to turn on the television or scroll through social media without seeing a reference to it. In response to all of the media hype, I can’t think of a better time than now to share seven helpful tips for keeping your immune system in tip-top shape so you can stay healthy. Sound good? Alrighty – let’s dive in!
I’m sure that you understand the importance of self-care.
It’s not just something to pay attention to during the cold and flu season. Taking care of yourself is essential to staying healthy year-round. I’ll bet you’ve seen or heard oodles of articles and interviews with health care professionals who’re emphasizing that you should wash your hands frequently.
And there are plenty of other tips floating around, too.
- Don’t touch your face (i.e., your eyes, nose, or mouth).
- Don’t shake hands.
- Maintain social distancing (i.e., keep three feet between yourself and others).
- Practice respiratory hygiene (e.g., cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away).
- Stay home if you’re sick.
All of those suggestions are very valuable, and when you pair them with deliberate self-care, you’re far more likely to stay healthy.
So, what is deliberate self-care?
That’s a terrific question. Self-care is the mindful practice of taking the time to pay attention to you, not in a selfish way, but in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you. (Let’s face it – nobody is going to better care of you than wonderful Y-O-U!)
I’m a firm believer in the benefits of bolstering your immune system so that it’s always functioning at its highest level. These seven self-care tips will not only help you stay well during this COVID-19 outbreak, but they’re also good practices to keep you healthy throughout the year. And who doesn’t want to be healthy, right? 😉
1. Reduce your stress levels.
Did you know that stress can compromise – or suppress – your immune system? When cortisol, the stress hormone, releases into your bloodstream, you’re at risk for an increase in inflammation. And that inflammation can be the pre-cursor to all kinds of diseases. Plus, chronic stress may interfere with your white blood cells’ ability to fight infection – and that makes you more susceptible to catching viruses. So, how do you combat stress? By stitching, of course! 🙂
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
This one’s easy peasy for me. I L-O-V-E all kinds of fruit! And filling up on fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants is even better: oranges, grapefruits, berries, leafy greens (like kale, spinach, and turnip greens), bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. Aim for two cups of fruit every day and two and a half cups of vegetables.
3. Load up on vitamin D.
Most people don’t get enough vitamin D, so this self-care tip is extra important. Vitamin D helps your body produce antibodies that can fight illness. Since it’s wintertime and the sun isn’t shining as much as it does at other times of the year, you can get extra vitamin D from these foods: fatty fish (like salmon – yum!), seafood (be sure and check out my recipe for Shrimp Creole on the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook page), mushrooms, and eggs.
4. Prioritize sleep.
I’m an 8-9 hour per night sleeper, and that falls within the parameters of what the National Sleep Foundation recommends for people up to age 64. If you’re over age 64, you should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night to help your body recover from everyday stress. And if you have a hard time falling asleep, try working on a basketweave project to help you relax. (I always have at least one basketweave project going all the time.) 🙂
5. Keep your alcohol intake in check.
That glass of wine in the evening won’t cause your immune system to tank, but you really ought to keep it to just one glass. (Men can have up to two drinks/glasses of wine every day.) Alcohol can be dehydrating, so it’s super important to drink plenty of water, too. I aim for 64 ounces every day. In fact, I keep a water bottle with me just about all the time.
6. Wash your hands often.
Yep – I’m repeating this one here. My friend, Kelly, is a nurse and she’s a firm believer in washing your hands – A LOT! Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds – and don’t forget your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Sing the “happy birthday” song to yourself all the way through twice to ensure that you’re sudsing up long enough. This is a really good habit to get into for more reasons than just your health, too. Keeping your hands clean will prevent you from soiling your projects when you sit down to stitch. 😉
7. Keep up with a regular exercise routine.
Being active can help keep your lungs and airways clear, which means that your odds of getting a cold, the flu, or other illnesses are less likely. Exercise also gives antibodies and white blood cells a boost, circulating them more widely throughout your body. So do your heart – and your immune system – a favor: get off the sofa and take a walk around the neighborhood (or inside your house).
Implementing these seven self-care tips won’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but they’re a step in the right direction.
If you have a favorite self-care tip that you’d like to share, please leave it in the comments box below. I’d love to hear from you!
And when you leave a tip in the comments box below, I’ll enter your name into the March drawing for a pair of sunny yellow Super Snips. 🙂
Alrighty – that’s all for now, my friend.
Have a terrific rest of your day and until next time, happy stitching…