Ways to Boost Energy and Immunity
As our part of the world begins to emerge from the pandemic and reengage with communities, families, and circles of friends, we find ourselves in territory that’s both uncertain and new. Whatever our individual experience of the pandemic has been, all of us are re-entering the world profoundly changed.
If you’re currently living with a challenging diagnosis, recovering from surgery, or weathering a life transition, you may be thinking extra carefully about how to keep your body and spirits healthy, nourished, and safe. How can you boost your energy and continue to support your body’s natural immunity?
We’ve put together a few thoughts and reminders of things you can do to care for yourself—ways to be a strong advocate for your own health. And if you’re a caregiver, these are ideas you can put to use in supporting your loved ones as well.
Benefit from nature
Spending time outside was one of the only safe pandemic activities, but it’s one that all types of doctors and therapists recommend we continue. There are so many positive effects from the natural world—lower blood pressure, reduced stress hormones, better mood regulation, and increased immunity, and you don’t need to be active to experience the benefits. If you or someone you’re caring for is bedridden, try opening a window and positioning yourself so you have a view of what’s going on outside. What do you notice about the season? Are there birds you can hear, the sounds of neighbors or of children playing? Are there flowers or fruits coming into season? If you can, bring nature indoors: a small bouquet or the first peaches, plums, or cherries of the year. Let these pieces of the natural world bring back summertime memories and connect you to the beauty of what’s right here right now.
It’s summertime, which means rising temperatures might be dehydrating you without your even noticing. Eight glasses of water a day is a guideline we’re all familiar with, but in the summer, experts say you may need even more. Making a pitcher of herbal tea with caffeine-free herbs like peppermint, lemon verbena, hibiscus, or rooibos, and then chilling it overnight is a delicious and easy way to stay hydrated—and feel connected to the flavors of the season. You can also add a little extra interest to a glass of water by infusing it with cubes of watermelon, slices of cucumber, or wedges of lemon, lime, or orange. Even choosing a water bottle or special carafe for your bedside table can help remind you to keep up with your fluid intake.
Keep nutrition in mind
What we eat always matters, but when you or someone you love is bedridden or limited in their mobility, good-quality nutrition matters even more. The nutrients in the foods we eat are critical for both immunity and energy. But when appetites are unpredictable and enthusiasm for eating is low, it can be helpful to think a bit creatively. Who says you can’t have soup for breakfast, or blend up a handful of leafy greens in an otherwise-traditional smoothie? And if larger meals aren’t appealing, smaller portions of healthy snacks throughout the day can add up in a powerful way. Favorite family recipes or traditional foods may also have a special appeal, adding a powerful sense of emotional support to a meal at the same time.
Take a look at your sleep schedule
The research is clear: getting enough sleep really does boost your immunity, and almost all adults benefit from seven or more hours of quality rest every night. If falling asleep or staying asleep is a problem for you, or someone you love, there might be some simple changes you can implement to help. Try eliminating caffeinated beverages after 2 pm, and give yourself a screen-free hour before bed—experts agree that the blue light from phones, TVs, and computers can disrupt sleep cycles.
Getting a good night’s sleep in a care facility can be challenging when sensory input is out of your control. Blackout curtains, earplugs, an eye mask, or a white noise machine are good ways to reduce light and sound input. Make it a point to prioritize your sleep, and to seek solutions if something about your current setup needs to be addressed.
Be mindful of stress
A certain amount of stress is a fact of life, but living with a challenging diagnosis or recovering from surgery can bring anyone to the limits of their capacity. Even when a larger situation is beyond your control, there are often small changes you can make in response to the stress in your life, and in service to your own well-being. Look for opportunities to do something slightly differently: can you break up your day in a new way, seek out someone new to ask for help, or be clearer about your preferences or individual needs? If the impacts of an illness are piling up in ways that feel unsustainable, how can you support stress reduction through self-advocacy? And if you’re a caregiver, it may be helpful to ask direct questions about what the loved one you’re caring for truly wants and needs. Being very specific can help: “what time would you like me to come tomorrow? Is there anything you wish you had here with you? What would make you feel supported and heard?”
We recommend consulting with your doctor or health care practitioner before starting any kind of new supplement regimen, but there’s strong evidence that vitamins C and D in particular can boost energy and immunity. If you, like we do, call the Pacific Northwest home, it’s very likely that you live with a certain amount of vitamin D deficiency. Your healthcare practitioner can help you get a sense of your own needs more clearly. And it’s always a good idea to think of food as medicine, too, which means eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables whenever possible, and focusing on quality fats that are heart-healthy.
All of us at Arkeras wish you a summer of well-being, connection, and beauty. May the long days of the season offer you much to look forward to. And may you and yours be healthy.