Are you a student of history? I have not studied medical history extensively, yet I have followed others who have done so. I have appreciated their reflections on the current pandemic in light of prior ones.
Emerging diseases take off fast, usually because the pathogens have encountered fresh territory. If the disease is bacterial in nature, it can be countered with antibiotics, but we don’t always know right away. Treatments are explored in a rush to find a cure, but rarely are foundational changes addressed.
How Is Your Battleground?
I wrote last spring – not long after the pandemic had brought the country to a standstill – about the condition of your battleground. What I was referring to is the physical condition of the body that a pathogen visits. Oh, there is talk of comorbidities, but rarely of addressing them to reduce one’s susceptibility to disease.
No doubt, you have listened to many reports and talks over the past 18 months. How many times have you heard someone in authority encourage you to consider the condition of your battleground? To consider how your food and lifestyle choices affect your foundational health – the battleground?
Last year did you, like me, notice a rising level of fear and uncertainty inside you, mixed with grief over the losses, isolation and unknown future? Fear drives us to need to name and control our enemy.
Promote The Parasympathetic
Most of the emotions we felt last year (and may still be feeling) put our bodies into sympathetic nervous system mode. That’s what we refer to as “fight or flight” mode. But that should be an occasional condition, not a consistent one.
Our body is designed to primarily operate in the parasympathetic nervous system, also called “rest and digest.” This is the mode in which we should live – this is the mode for healing.
I have said since last year that making daily choices that support our body and promote the parasympathetic nervous system mode sets a valuable foundation for life.
Sleep, Eat Real Food, and Move
When facing physical challenge, it is important to make time to sleep, eat whole foods, and move your body. That is not the time to dwell in distressing newscasts or binge on comfort (or junk) food and Netflix while vegging on the couch.
Fear suppresses the immune system and shifts you into “fight or flight,” and news programs were masterfully stirring up fear. What else stirs fear for you? It’s important to identify what does, because “fight or flight” does not support restful sleep
What you eat also makes a huge difference in your health. When you fill your digestive system with processed food containing chemicals and preservatives, you provide confusing information to your body. It may slow physiology or prompt reactions that will keep your immune system distracted from invaders.
Being sedentary works against your health, too. Movement is not only beneficial for your joints and muscles, but also propels lymph fluid around the body. The lymph system supports the collection of cellular garbage for removal as well as the transport of immune cells. Can you see that movement is important for more than muscles? What are you doing to move daily?
You have the power to improve the health of your body – the battleground – by the daily choices you make. To do that, make it a priority to be in the parasympathetic nervous mode as much as possible. Then give yourself the opportunity to sleep well, eat whole foods and move your body regularly. Your battleground will be better suited for whatever comes.