Immune Support & Stress Tips through Challenging Times
Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe & Anri van Rooyen
This Immune System and Stress Support Tips are meant as a tool to use frequently:
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1. Spend time outside:
What a beautiful day in Hermanus! Best thing for our immune systems to be outside, grounding with bare feet in sand or grass. And be near trees. Blessings to all!
My intention: Today I’ll smile at everyone I see. It’s good for my immune system and theirs. From my heart to yours. Richest blessings. Arien.
From Ruoert Spira: What is a smile? It is a moment when
the body expresses a momentary
collapse of the sense of separation.
It’s a little moment of Love sharing.
3. Sanitizer Recipe:
My recipe for a natural, home made gentle hand sanitiser and room spray.
Ingredients per 250 ml cup of water:
2.5ml sea salt or Himalayan rock salt
2 drops tea tree essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops sweet orange essential oil
Dissolve salt in hot water and let it cool down a bit
Then add essential oils, stir throughly and allow to cool down completely
Pour into spray bottle and shake every time before use, to wipe hands and as room spray
4. Belly Breathing:
Stress from uncertainty and deep seated survival concerns (manifested as feelings of panic, fear, anxiety or physically as e.g. hand clenching, heart palpitations, shallow or fast breathing, gut discomfort) is
insidious and more contagious than any virus. It also suppresses the immune system.
Sit down whenever you become aware of disquieting feelings or emotions. Center yourself in your abdominal and pelvic area and start to deliberately relax your big muscle groups. Alternately contract and release lower leg muscles, then upper legs, buttocks, tummy, lower arms, upper arms, shoulders, neck, face and head.
Say to yourself: just for now, I am calm in my mind, in my emotions and in my body.
Then do what I call Belly Breathing Breaks: push out your belly as you breathe in deeply, hold for a few counts, and breathe out deeply, pulling your tummy tight in towards your spine. Hold. Start another cycle. Do this at least 10 times every time you feel upset, even if it’s all the time! It restores focused calm very quickly, puts you out of sympathetic stress mode (fear, panic, anxiety) into parasympathetic relaxation mode. Worth a try! You can pay it forward to family and friends. Love vibes and richest blessings to all – from a distance.
I do have my book ‘Stress Solutions’ and relaxation CD/USB for anyone who find it difficult to relax. It’s my voice guiding you through simple relaxation techniques: https://www.drarien.co.za/product/stress-solutions-cd-relax-unwind-level-1/
And the CD/USB on its own: https://www.drarien.co.za/product/stress-solutions-book-and-cd/
(Note: The photo attached, was taken by myself a while ago – it’s Moonshine Rock in Hermanus to remind us that the light is always there)
5. Mind Training:
We’re going to practice some Mind Training to use throughout this precious period of Personal Retreat, IF WE ALLOW IT TO BE that, rather than ongoing emphasis on isolation and lockdown!
Whenever we catch ourselves going into fear mode (e.g. worry, fear, panic, anxiety attacks), we’re defaulting to our lower, instinctual, survival brain (also called the subconscious mind operating from the lymbic system inside the brain).
Our challenge is to deliberately choose to focus on our higher mind (also called superconscious mind).
All human beings can decide on which mind to focus. It takes some practice, patience and perseverance (3P’s as I call it) to do this, but the wonderful thing is that we all have the ability to do so.
It all starts with awareness.Every time, you become aware of fear (e.g. panic or anxiety, or physical symptoms like fast, shallow breathing, hand clenching, heart palpitations, etc.), STOP and do the muscle relaxation practice from tip #4, then some Belly Breathing Breaks. Carry on until you feel the fear subside.IT WILL SUBSIDE IF YOU USE THIS TECHNIQUE FOR LONG ENOUGH.
You can also change the emotions and body sensing, by visualising a calm place you’ve been before, recall joyful memories, to help you switch to a different brainwave pattern of calm relaxation(alpha brain rhythm) and away from the stress brainwave pattern of high beta waves.
The more you do this, the more you rewire your own brain into new networks of effective functioning from within your higher mind or higher soul-self. Read more about this in my Neuroplasticity article on the website. This practice teaches us to manage our emotions to change from fear to Love
My morning gratitude list started with the sound and smell of the ocean a few meters away from my window. So grateful that I can spend the 21 days of personal soul retreat in the complex where I live in Hermanus for now, being able to be so near the sea. Then I sent out a prayer for human healing and love for us all. Yes, I feel sad, and sometimes lonely, but becoming aware of my feelins/emotions, I ackowledge them and let them go. Realising again how emotions soon lift if we allow them to. My quest for this time is to gently start lifting to higher frequencies as my default mode – releasing to Higher Self /Holy Spirit for relief and receiving Love and Support always.
What are you grateful today, just for now?
Richest blessings. Dr Arien.
7. Ginger, Tumeric & Cinnamon Tea Recipe:
Drink ginger, turmeric and cinnamon daily to support your immune system. Optional: add raw honey, rooibos tea and milk to make a delicious healing drink.
Ginger: anti-viral – treats symptoms of colds and flu, reduces inflammation, aids in digestion, improves blood flow, prevents nausea and strengthens the immune system.
Turmeric: anti-fungal, anti-viral, natural pain killer, blood sugar control, anti-inflammatory and immune booster.
Cinnamon: anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, eases flu symptoms, blood sugar control.
8. Do Something Creative:
Doing something creative and fun is the best stress management tool of all!
I’ll definitely do some painting during my Soul Retreat time! All tools of the trade have been unpacked, ready for when inspiration needs expression!
Attached is a photo of one of my previous play-fun-time paintings. Will never be a professional artist, but that is definitely not the point! Challenging brain networks with new, different activities is the point….also one of the best tools for neuroplastic rewiring
9. Get Your Chef On:
Eat healthy meals to boost your immune system. Use fresh produce and lean meats. Try Anri van Rooyen’s recipe below.
‘I made this delicious creamy recipe. What a winner. I made enough to last for lunch as well. Try it and let us know what you think.’
10. Avoid Health Harming Distractions.
If you’re distracting with too much unhealthy food, alcohol, mindless TV watching or too many games, STOP and listen! Your immune system and mitochondria (tiny power generators in every one of your 50 trillion cells) are protesting: please get some sunlight (20 min. for early morning healing and vit. D) and be outside for a while.
Rather than running to health harming distractions, tune into your unsettling emotions and gently let them go. Deliberately replace them with a sense of calm, joy and light, always available inside, regardless of what’s happening on the outside. Tiny glimpses of momentary relief, make a world of difference to our immune system health. Try it, I can vouch that it works! Blessings. Dr Arien.
11. Focus on the little things.
This is a great stress less tip as well and will make you feel calm and content. Love your life and start noticing all the amazing things you should be grateful for.
One example: turn your attention to the nature around you. I spent time in my (very small) garden yesterday and then I actually ‘saw’ my beautiful garden again. I took a blanket outside and just chilled there. I then became aware of a whole new world, that we so often don’t see anymore. And the sky showed off, look at that sunset.
12. Supplement wisely to optimise immune system health.
Good morning on this new day!
First of all, I have to reiterate the utmost importance for all of us to manage the intense distress of our fear every moment of every day whenever we sense/feel worry, anger, anxiety. Sit with the emotion, allow it and let it simply lift and pass by like clouds in the sky. Release stress chemicals through your body: get up and shake vigorously, or dance to your own favourite music.
Even momentary relief is effective. This is key to support our immune system to do what it is supposed to do: keep us healthy. After all, our natural state is to be healthy!
Today there was a really positive message forwarded to me by a friend, of a presentation to the Government of Namibia. The very sensible suggestion to support the body through effective, affordable supplementation, during this challenging time, is one that we at Ariani Health Solutions, fully endorse. Presentation link: https://youtu.be/DkkUAs1Ppyw
To summarise: stretch every morning, breathe deeply, get regular sun exposure early am and late pm, touch the earth, do daily exercise, eat well, drink water (1 glass of 250m for every 10kg body weight), relax and unwind, and supplement wisely. And know that the light is always shining.
13. Your diet and lifestyle can make an enourmous difference when it comes to fighting any infection (viral – incl. COVID-19, bacterial, parastic etc).
I read the following in a newsletter today:
‘There are two questions that have fascinated immunologists in any pandemic:
1. Why do some people get sick while others stay healthy?
2. And amoung those who become infected, why do some people fare so much better than others of the same age and gender?
OVER AND OVER AGAIN, IT TURNS OUT THAT A PERSON’S DIET AND LIFESTYLE MAKE AN ENOURMOUS DIFFERENCE.’
So here is my tips for today to improve your immune system (refer to images with captions):
1. Gratitude is important as part of a healthy lifestyle. Look at that beautiful sunset I took yesterday. Isn’t it great to be alive and to experience this every single day. List at least 3 things you are grateful for every morning (it can be big or super tiny).
2. Stick to a healthy low carb (healthy oil and lean meats) lifestyle and if you include carbohydrates, only stick to complex carbs. All of the what to eat and what not to eat is in our EatSMART Guide. Image 2 is a good example of a delicious and very healthy meal. Fillet strips, with a homemade potato salad (I made my own healthy dressing as per EatSMART Guidelines) and a mixed salad.
3. Move daily! Find exercises that you enjoy! I bought these mini stretch bands and it is my absolute favourite right now. I use it every day. It is my new fitness toy. I follow my online FiTSMART Guide – Home Workout Program (Fit-in-15).
I hope my tips help you.
Stay happy and healthy!
Anri van Rooyen
14. Look after your heart now and in future!
Not only are heart healthy food choices, effective well researched herbal remedies and heart specific natural supplements, exercise and stress management beneficial for the heart, but also emotions of love, gratefulness and peace from deep relaxation (ref. Tip#12 on the heart being more than a pump).
Just behind the heart, lies the thymus gland, where T-cells (an important part of immune system health) mature.
Studies show that practicing heart focused meditation can lead to improved immunity, better sleep, more energy, and so on. Heart disease was already the world’s no 1 killer, and in the time of COVID-19, it’s become even more significant.
The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to keep your heart in good shape. As cardiologist, Dr Dean Ornish said, cardiovascular disease is a preventable and even reversible, condition!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to add more ease to your life anytime you want? You can do this by simply connecting with the qualities of your heart – loving kindness, forgiveness, compassion, peace and deep inner joy. You might need some practice, but it can be done!
Read my article on heart health and the rest of the heart centered meditation to help you find inner ease from stress whenever you do it: Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair, in a quiet place, with soft light, soothing music if you prefer. Hold your back straight, chin parallel to the floor, hands relaxed in your lap, eyes closed. Do some deep belly breathing (refer to Tip#4) and feel yourself relaxing with each exhalation. Do this until you’re completely relaxed. In your mind’s eye, imagine a bright, healing light shining into your heart. The light becomes softer, changing to hues of pink & emerald green, associated with feelings of love, peace, reassurance, forgiveness and acceptance…..
15. Listen to Your Body!
A few of my patients and friends are saying that the lockdown is bad for their health and that they put on a lot of weight. Intuitively our bodies know what is healthy and prefer that above all, but with all the stresses and strains of surviving, we forget it every now and then and stop listening. Some research even suggests that obesity could increase the chance of getting Covid-19. This makes sense as fat leads to inflammation which in turn can negatively impact the immune system.
I encourage you to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, it is the only place you have to live in this world. LISTEN to it when it is feeling uncomfortable, asking you to move, in order for it to function better. LISTEN to it when you eat something and get an upset tummy. This means your body doesn’t want that food. LISTEN and provide nourishment, so that your body can do what it does best: work optimally to keep you healthy and happy.
My personal interest in the health and fitness realm is fat loss and the effect fat has on our health. It is my passion to assist patients on their fat loss journey and advise on what to eat, how to exercise and how to get your mind in the right place to achieve your health goal.
I know there is, and have been, many challenges during lockdown, both mentally, emotionally and physically, with mood swings being par for the course right now. Please click here for the holistic approach to weight or fat loss that I did for Real Health, on The Home Channel
We eat to protect ourselves with fat (as insulation). The body cannot differentiate between a real stressor (e.g. a lion attacking you) and a perceived stressor (e.g. financial constraints, social distancing, fear of the future etc). This is how stress leads to binge eating or using food as distraction from boredom, leading to fat gain.
Excess fat causes inflammation in the body and can lead to the expression of your genetic weakness (e.g. depression, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes type 2, metabolic syndrome, anxiety and more). Excess fat is also detrimental to your immune system and we all know we need our immune systems in tip top shape to fight off any infections now and throughout winter (incl. colds, flu, coronavirus, bacteria, etc).
So, when you think about it, if you lose fat, you improve the functioning of your immune system and your whole body. If you use this notion as your motivation, no craving or feeling of hunger can get to you! We have developed a complete online fat loss experience. If you are interested, contact us or pop us an email.
Please let us know how we can help you on your health or fat loss journey.
Lots of Love,
Anri van Rooyen
Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe, Specialist Holistic Health Counsellor, Medical Doctor and Author spec. in Natural, Plant/Botanical Medicine, Stress Management, Workplace Wellness whose Passion is Health Education