Is the stress of the pandemic is taking a toll on your health? Its hard to escape what’s going on around us during these trying times. Yet, adopting strategies to deal with the stress and get a good night’s sleep is critical now more than ever. Both stress and lack of sleep can hamper the function of the immune system, increase the risk of heart disease and make dealing with a pandemic even more difficult.
Consider these tips to take the edge off the stress and get better sleep:
High levels of stress, as well as the things people do when they are stressed, such as smoking drinking alcohol and eating junk food, can reduce immune function and increase susceptibility to infections. It’s hard to feel upbeat and positive during a time of crisis, yet there are some simple things that you can do daily to improve mood and the ability to cope with what is going on around us.
- Take a break from the news and instead, go for a walk, do some yoga or stretching exercises.
- When feeling anxious, try deep breathing exercises. This can help promote relaxation right away. Close your eyes and focus on taking long deep breaths.
- Think positive thoughts. It’s okay to acknowledge troubling feelings, but try to shift your focus to thoughts that make you feel happy and safe.
- Give guided meditation a try. There are many free apps available that make it easier to learn how to meditate.
- Connect with friends and family frequently through video and phone calls.
- Limit sugar and alcohol as both of these substances have a negative impact on your mood and they also increase inflammation, reduce immune function and compromise gut health.
- Be diligent about getting proper nutrition. Eating a wide-range of vegetables and fruit will help to ensure your brain and nervous system has all the important nutrients it needs. Some of the best mood-elevating foods include berries, nuts, seeds, fish and dark chocolate.
- Take a good quality B-complex to support your nervous system. The herb passionflower can help to reduce stress, anxiety and tension.
Having a good night’s sleep is absolutely vital for good health. When we don’t get enough sleep or quality sleep at night it puts our body in a compromised state, affecting our physical and mental health as well as the proper functioning of our immune system. During times of heightened stress make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Getting less than 6 hours sleep can reduce the activity of the immune cells. Here are some tips to help promote a better night’s rest:
- Set a regular bedtime and also rise at a consistent time. Even if you are staying home these days, try to keep on a regular sleep schedule.
- Stay away from digital devices that emit dangerous blue light and other sleep disruptors in the evening such as television. Opt for relaxing activities instead, such as reading, having an Epsom salt bath or playing peaceful music.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet. If you live in a noisy area try playing background noise such as rain, ocean or nature sounds.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and stimulants in the evening before bedtime.
If you need a little help relaxing at night have a cup of chamomile tea or a drink with magnesium. The herbs valerian and hops can also help improve sleep quality without the addictive effects seen with prescription sleeping pills. You will find these two herbs together in a formula called Deep Sleep by A. Vogel. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking these supplements because there can be interactions with certain medications.