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How Self-care Boosts Immune Defenses

The coronavirus pandemic is causing widespread stress among the population. Stress is more than a mental state; it also has physical manifestations that include headaches, body pain, nausea, and poor sleep. It has behavioral manifestations that include changes in appetite, lack of motivation for physical activity, and a quick temper.

According to psychologists, stress causes the body to produce higher levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. When this happens for a prolonged period, it causes inflammation in the body. It also weakens the immune system, making the individual more vulnerable to infection and long-term health problems.

Since stress is a natural response to an adverse situation, it cannot be completely avoided during a pandemic. Daily challenges cause anxiety, and this can pile up. What you can control is how you manage day-to-day stress. Doing self-care one day at a time will also have a multiplier effect in boosting your immune function.

Importance of Exercise, Good Sleep, and Nutrition

Experts highlight that sleep is vital in keeping your immune system working at its optimum. Even moderate levels of sleep loss can lead to body inflammation and vulnerability to infection and other illnesses. The body needs regular deep sleep to keep up its immune response. This means sleeping and waking up at the same time every day, with undisturbed sleep.

If anxiety is keeping you awake at night, you need help to regulate your sleeping pattern. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that more physical activity during the day can help improve the quality of your sleep at night but wind down your activities going towards your bedtime. Play soothing music and turn down the lights to signal your body to slow down. Before lying down, turn off all the lights. Use blackout curtains to block off all light from outside your window. Total darkness promotes deep sleep.

According to an exercise physiologist, David Nieman, who reviewed the past century’s research on the relationship between exercise and the immune system, regular exercise of moderate intensity improves the immune system’s regulatory function and vigilance against pathogens.

You can do common aerobic and strength training exercises. If you want to try something more interesting, you can explore workouts based on martial arts like boxing, taekwondo, krav maga, jiu-jitsu, or Muay Thai.

In addition to having a high-quality sleep and regular physical activity, experts emphasize the need for good nutrition. Clinical immunologist Rene Leon states that no single food or supplement can boost the immune system. What you need is a well-balanced diet that includes more whole foods like whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits, while avoiding processed food.

woman doing boxing

Other Self-Care Tips

Ensure that you maintain personal hygiene and set aside time to take care of your other personal needs. Just because you are staying home most of the time does not mean you can let yourself go.

For instance, if you have skin problems like acne, continue your treatment regimen or add new approaches like using acne-fighting soap you can order online from If you are not happy with how your hair looks, you can experiment with either tying it into a man-bun or ponytail or shaving off all or part of it. You can order hair clippers and find inspiration for men’s hairstyles online. Now is the best time to play around with your hair because everyone forgives eccentricities amid COVID-19.

If you are having negative thoughts, you can manage these through meditation. You can find guided meditation videos online that include calming sounds like falling rain, rolling waves, and bird calls. Practices like yoga and tai chi also have meditative effects benefiting both your mind and body.

If it is allowed in your area, go out where there are no other people around. Walking in nature or just in any wide-open space will do much to clear your head. You can also go jogging or biking, but you must stay six feet away from others and wear a mask.

Experts also recommend that you nurture your relationships with your family and closest friends even while you are physically distancing from each other. Maximize the use of technology for regular video chats to check on one another. Psychologist Vanessa Kennedy states that the brain releases beneficial neurochemicals when you connect meaningfully with others.

Mental and physical exhaustion from the pandemic can wear you down every day if you do not take the reins to take control. You can manage and minimize your stress to fortify your immune system and increase your resistance to infection and disease.

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