In support of flattening the curve of infection with COVID-19, most of us are practicing social distancing and moving our professional lives from our offices to our homes. For those of us who regularly work from home, this may not seem particularly challenging. Most of us have figured out how to keep ourselves healthy and sane while being geographically separate from our colleagues.
Still, whether you are new to working from home or not, here are reminders of ways you can protect your sanity, support your immune system, and stay well during the COVID-19 pandemic (and beyond).
Boosting Your Immune System
1. Promote gut health with a probiotic. A healthy and strong immune system is your first line of defense to all illness, including COVID-19. Because approximately 80 percent of your immune tissue is located in your intestines, your overall health is directly connected to your gut health. Boost your overall and gut health by balancing the bacteria in your gut with a probiotic. Probiotics build the good bacteria in your intestines that fight off the bad bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that cause illness and disease. Find probiotics with at least 1 billion CFUs, or colony-forming units, of one or more of these strains: Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces. The following sub-strains are the best for boosting immunity: Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum.
2. Practice “immune-boosting” daily habits. When you have unhealthy daily habits, your immune system may struggle to keep you well while it is fighting the effects of those habits. You can increase your immunity by practicing these healthy habits each day:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, limiting sugary beverages, and consuming only reasonable amounts of caffeine.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, or not at all.
- Eat a balanced diet, full of complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
- Limit sugar because it provides no nutritional value and increases inflammation, a known cause of many illnesses and diseases.
- Exercise regularly, even if it is light exercise like walking.
- Don’t smoke or vape.
3. Supplement your immunity. When we face illness, and in particular, viruses, supplements can be one of our best defenses. To boost your immune system, avoid sickness, and reduce the severity of illness if you do get sick, try these supplements:
- Zinc reduces the duration of virus-caused illnesses, like the common cold and influenza, by preventing the virus from multiplying. Some experts believe that zinc lozenges can prevent the growth of viruses that cause respiratory infection, like coronavirus, because the zinc is concentrated in the throat, one of the pathways to respiratory infection.
- Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of respiratory infections, with one study showing that it reduces the chances of infection by approximately 42%.
- Vitamins A and C encourage the production of white blood cells that help fight infection in the body and enable those cells to function more effectively to keep us well. In particular, one study of patients with pneumonia showed that they were deficient in vitamin C, and with supplementation, their recovery times were shortened.
- Elderberry extract is made from the berries and flowers of the elder plant. It is anti-viral and is commonly used to fight respiratory infections by supplying the body with antioxidants to increase immune function.
Rest Your Body and Your Brain
4. Get enough good sleep. You may find it hard to sleep in this “new normal” of the COVID-19 pandemic panic, market volatility, and ever-changing information. But this is one of the most important times to get enough good sleep. Cutting sleep short by even an hour or two a night reduces the effectiveness of your immune system by about 25 percent. To stay healthy, you must give your body time to recover and refresh. Sleep provides this opportunity. The average adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Set a bedtime schedule and try to stick to it. Make sure you don’t watch or read the news right before bed, and keep your devices out of your bedroom, to ensure your brain is ready to rest at bedtime. (Related: “Five Supplements to Help You Sleep.“)
5. Give your brain a break with meditation. Recent scientific research has proven the benefits of meditation to our overall health and well-being. The “downtime” of meditation allows our brains time to rejuvenate and reflect, which calms the mind and the body so that we are able to reduce our anxiety and minimize our feelings of stress. A regular meditation practice gives us the perseverance and perspective we need to maintain our sanity, especially during times of crisis. A regular meditation practice, of just five minutes per day, will improve your outlook on life and allow you to remain calm. (Related: “Five Ways to Reduce Anxiety in a Worldwide Pan(dem)ic.”)