5 ways to Slow it Down and stay healthy right now

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Stay healthy, please slow it down. The sanctity of Safe, Simple, Slow. 

If I could say one thing after “please stay home” it would be “slow it down”. (i.e. unless you’re supporting our healthcare system)

One thing’s certain: Stress suppresses your immune system. No matter how “clean” you may eat, if you’re strung out and not sleeping, you’re more apt to get sick – regardless of any virus.

And getting sick – or injured – is something you want to avoid during a pandemic. 

So we must slow it down. 
Now more than ever, we need expanded patience, care, empathy, and love for one another. Everyone’s stressed – even the youngest amongst us. Remind yourself daily.
Expectations may need to be lowered during these unprecedented times.  
Let’s make a pact that we’re gonna get through this together by staying safe and healthy and by helping others do the same. (mmKay?) 
This article lays out 5 areas to slow it down to stay healthy. 

1. Slow it down – Stay safe 

“Slow it Down.” This is our new household mantra. Every day I say it multiple times. 
Life during a pandemic brings a new level of vulnerability to those of us who’ve been fortunate to never experience such exposure before. Normal acts like going to the dentist, doctor, or urgent care are now either off-limits or extremely dangerous due to the likelihood of exposure.  
Take no shortcuts in the times of a pandemic. Let your actions be deliberate and slow. Meticulous at times. 
This means taking time and care to properly sanitize items brought into your home. And thoroughly washing your hands for 20 – 30 seconds – countless times.   
When you’re cooking – don’t rush. Wear those heat mittens, watch the burners and ideally stick to tried and true recipes and ingredients. It may be tempting to think ‘oh I should start that gourmet cooking I’ve always aspired to do!’ 
But honestly, there’s safety and sanctity in simplicity right now. With so much overwhelming change, there’s no need to complicate anything. Choose the safe, keep it simple.  
Keep a careful eye on dates for packaged foods, including meats. Buy food from trusted sources. I recently tried a ‘newer’ delivery service for frozen meats and later realized the “packed” dates were 2018 and 2019. Some had been repackaged by the service with no dates at all! Unfortunately, I realized this too late – after near two weeks of brutal illness after cooking shrimp packaged with ‘no date’. 
Perhaps now’s not the time to be trying anything too ‘new’. Stick to the tried and true. 
Tried and True > Something New 
It may be tempting to exert control and try ‘all the things’ you can to up your game: 
      • New supplements, tonics, teas to ‘boost’ your immune system
      • New devices to diffuse essential oils or incense in your home 
      • New intense exercise equipment or training regimens 

But please hear me exclaim loudly: NO, NO, and NOOO! 

Take it from someone who’s over-boosted their immune system from antioxidants plus spirulina, mushroom adaptogenic teas, adaptogens, echinacea, etc. It is absolutely possible – even easy – to over-do immune-boosting supplements… to the point your body is so ‘pumped’ that it starts to attack itself. 

Keep it slow, keep it steady. 

Tried and True > Something New. 

Also, take it from someone who took to diffusing essential oils as a new practice to “cleanse” the air and breathe more deeply. NOPE. This one too backfired. Our indoor air quality monitor revealed hazardous air (AQI) within seconds of diffusing. I developed an awful cough from using it, and when we stopped, the cough went away. It was literally polluting the air in our home. 
For a healthy immune system, the tried-and-true holistic approach is best.
Support your immune system naturally with healthy whole food, sunshine, fresh air, mindfulness practices, sleep, and staying connected to others. (virtually for now) 


2. Slow it down – mind your Exercise

Mind your exercise, stress, and sleep. If you’re high on stress and low on sleep, ease up on exercise. Opt for gentle walks, yoga, stretching, or core activation – nothing intense. If you don’t have a walking treadmill for your desk at home, consider one of these to keep moving throughout the day. 

3. Slow it down – media exposure

For your mental health and for the sake of others, please consider a “media diet”. 
Designate a few time windows during the day to check the news. Two times a day is more than enough for most of us, no more than 15-30 minutes each time. Don’t choose first thing when you wake up or right before you go to sleep! Resist these temptations. 
If you can’t trust yourself to stay within boundaries, designate someone else to relay key updates to you each day. 
Be selective with your news source. Mainstream media can be polarizing and overly-sensational. Sources like JAMA Network (Journal of American Medical Association) and the European CDC (rapid risk assessment updates) provide rich detail with zero sensationalism. While I do skim mainstream sources, I spend most of my news time reading from these ‘better’ sources. 
I’ve ‘slowly’ come around to adopting a modified media diet. It was necessary. 
In early March, as the pandemic tsunami was ramping up in Italy and approaching the U.S. I was consumed by news, 24/7. 
I literally couldn’t sleep. Each night I’d roll over on the hour to scan for updates around the world. I was following the research and expert reports coming out of China, South Korea, and the EU, especially Italy. 
At the time I had family and friends that were undereducated on the topic and events, along with broad swaths of the populace. I felt a deep, urgent need to get the word out.
Hence more lost sleep, more stress. And a lot lower immune system. Which made me all the more ill when I encountered the aforementioned likely pathogenic shrimp. 
It’s good to be informed, and great to help protect others. But you’ve gotta first be healthy yourself!
The grief in our world is unimaginable. Allow yourself to feel it and to grieve when you need – but instead of becoming overwhelmed and consumed, let it galvanize you towards positive, productive action.  
Guard your mind, heart, and body with a healthier ‘media diet’ alongside that proper food diet. 

4. Slow it down – Go deep within 

This is a time for radical self-care and compassion. If you haven’t yet experienced relief from Breathing Deep, now is the perfect time to get started. Stress management practices like deep breathing, mindfulness, centering yourself, and prayer are proven tools to protect your immune system and promote calm and wellbeing. Stress can quickly overrun the immune system of even the healthiest of eaters.
Experiment and double down on what works for you. Even if you consider yourself an accomplished meditator, mindfulness practitioner, prayer warrior, zen master, or the like – I challenge you to dial up your practices. Channel your inner monk or mystic.  
We need ever more mindfulness to bring empathy and right-ordered communication and action to our world. 

5. Slow it down – Find gratitude, extend grace 

As an extension of self-care and mindfulness practices, find new ways to express gratitude and extend grace each day. 
You may want to keep a gratitude journal. Or as a touchstone, think of 3 new gratitudes each morning when you wake up and/or before you go to sleep. 
Do something kind for someone else each day. 
Our world has entered into a long, dark night. We need to be beams of sunshine and beacons of hope to help guide each other through to the other side.  
And there will be the other side.
While we long to hug and hold our loved ones far away, may we find solace and hope in holding each other accountable to the safe, the simple, and the slow practices.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
Slow it down. 
— Leigh
A surprising cause of illness.. and what to do about it  Primer on the ‘stress equation’ you must know. 
Keep calm and bolster your immunity.  5 strategies to elevate your health and care for your immune system.

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