Meditation- Even just a few minutes a day can shift your stress levels. There are studies that show meditation actually changes gene expression and lengthens telomeres. Telomeres are at the ends of the DNA strands and shorten due to aging and extrinsic factors. High stress can grossly affect your immune system leaving you susceptible to illness and disease. Survival mode is the worst place to be when everyone around you is getting sick! If you think that meditation is all about sitting still and clearing your mind you might be surprised to find out that an empty mind isn't the purpose of meditation. My teacher, Missy Diabilis at Open Space Yoga in Nashua recited a quote the other day in class that "There are as many meditations as there are meditators". This makes the practice completely unique and personal. She recommends a couple of books to help you get started Deep Meditation-pathyway to personal freedom by Yogani and Meditation for the Love of it- by Sally Kempton. (Missy has an amazing gong meditation every Sunday night, which in my opinion is the best way to start your week and be psyched about Monday.)
You can try different modalities until you find the one that is right for you. There are types that focus on breath while you sit quietly, there is walking meditation or you can even meditate while you do a task like cleaning the dishes. If you have a hard time focusing on your breath try a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that has meaning and lets you focus on one thing rather than everything at once. Try "I am in control of my health" or "There is strength within me". A lot of times I hear people saying the opposite. Choosing to repeat over and over I will not get sick actually changes in your to I will get sick as the brain doesn't recognize the "not" part. Recite those positive mantras over and over to keep your mind from wandering and to program your brain of your certainty over your health.
Don't be overly clean- All those sanitizers and cleaners with harsh antibiotic chemical ingredients and chlorine break down your skin's natural defenses as well as mess with your hormones. Your body knows what to do when there is an invader, but when we really mess with how it handles these bugs we don't get the full protection our bodies are capable of.
Herbal and essential oil blends do a great job of killing bacteria and viruses and are much less a stress on the body than conventional cleaners. Clean Well makes a great alcohol-free hand sanitizer for more extreme cases. Seventh Generation products are really great for daily cleaning as well. Both of these lines use Thyme oil instead of those harsh ingredients with the same efficacy. Using a diffuser to diffuse essential oils that have cleansing benefits to clean the air. There are brands that have essential oil blends that are great for diffusing in your home to help purify the air without throwing off your microbiome. Young Living has a blend called Thieve's Oil which is distributed by Banyan Tree Yoga and Do Terra has. My friend Emma Swears by OnGaurd and Breathe this time of year
Herb it up- There are some really powerful teas on the market to help balance your immune system. I drink Tulsi tea several times a week this time of year and if I come across those who are under the weather I drink more often. In those situations, I also add Goji Berry powder to my tea to super-fy it.
Oregano oil can be really powerful to cleanse your system of bugs and that is another thing that I use in my tool box when I have been exposed. Some other herbs I have tried are Pau d'Arco, and goldenseal. Lastly, chaga and reishi mushroom tea are really great for your immune system as they balance your immune system instead of exciting it.
The worst thing you can do not get good rest and practice self-care. So be mindful with yourself and prioritize sleep above all else!