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Not only do we have the novel coronavirus to worry about catching and spreading, but we are also in prime flu and allergy season! This makes it even more important to keep healthy and strengthen your immune system as much as possible. Here are a few easy actions you can take while at home to practice good personal health:
Self-isolate — seriously. The only way to shorten the time everything is shut down is for people to self-isolate. Don’t think of the time off from classes as an excuse to party or hang out with your friends. By ignoring self-isolation, you are not only hurting yourself but everyone else as well. Each person you come in contact with — your parents, grandparents, the cashier at the grocery store — are at increased risk while you ignore the advice of health officials and the government. It is also insensitive to all the people who died from COVID-19. If you need ideas for how to make self-isolation bearable, check out Madison Starinieri’s article to find an activity to keep yourself busy.
Get enough sleep! Just because the school is shut down for two weeks and classes are going remote does not mean you should mess up your sleeping schedule. Not getting enough “zzz”s can weaken your immune system and leave you more susceptible to illness. Be sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night and try setting a morning alarm to keep your schedule consistent. Too much sleep can leave you feeling drowsy for the rest of the day.
Keep exercising! Gyms might be closed for now but they are not the only places you can get a work out in. Look up videos on YouTube for home workouts or get creative with the stuff around you. A heavy textbook can make a great weight. A couch can be a sturdy support for tricep dips or incline push-ups. Your carpeted bedroom is perfect padding for planks. If you don’t like working out at home, get outside! Hit a nearby trail or even walk in your neighborhood, while maintaining a safe distance from other walkers or runners. Getting outside can also allow you to soak up some vitamin D, another immunity booster besides sleep.
Eat garlic. Garlic is full of medicinal properties that make it a popular superfood. While low in calories, it is actually full of needed vitamins like vitamin C and manganese. Not only should you eat garlic often in your regular diet, but eating a clove while you are sick with a cold can help you recover with less severe symptoms. Take the time while you are home to cook up some new recipes featuring this ingredient—it will both boost your immune system and add some delicious flavor to your meal.
Drink tea. Instead of drinking your way through self-isolation with the extra beer you managed to stock up on, try tea instead. While more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day can damage lung cells, weakening your body’s ability to ward off infection, herbal tea actually works as liquid medicine.
The practice of using herbal tea for medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians and Asians knew early on the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they got from regular tea drinking. A hot cup of tea can also relieve stress, improve digestion and soothe a sore throat or annoying cough. Can you believe you get all that from a cup of tea? If you are totally not a tea drinker then at least be sure to consume water regularly. Dehydration can have a quick and negative effect on your body.
Relax to decrease stress. Now no matter how much tea you drink, you will probably still feel a little stressed out with the pandemic affecting everyone in some way, which makes it extra important to carve out time in your day to relax. Whether you decompress the easiest with meditation, a nap, watching a movie or just being alone, take that time to give your body a break from the stress of the day. High-stress levels can actually weaken your body’s response to infection, so think of your decompression time as a way to ward off the coronavirus. It is the perfect excuse to get in a movie or take an evening siesta.
Eat healthy (duh!). We are what we eat! Make getting fruits, vegetables and nuts in your body a priority. It never hurts to take a multivitamin in the morning either! Don’t resort to processed junk food just because it is there! If this is difficult for you, start by eating one fruit or veggie with every meal to ensure you are getting some fresh food in your body, giving it the fighting strength it needs — an orange at breakfast, cut up peppers at lunch, maybe some green beans at dinner.
Go a step further with your snacking by eating a piece of produce first. If you are still hungry after, then go for the chips or cookies. All in moderation, of course. Be conscious of what you are cooking with. Add in garlic when you can. Use olive oil instead of canola oil because of its ability to fight inflammation and lower your risk for heart disease. Wash your produce well to decrease the dirt and pesticides you are consuming. Enjoy the cooking process! You might end up finding a new passion in the kitchen.
Clean your room. Dust, vacuum and open the windows to freshen up the room where you sleep. The dirt and dust lying about can irritate your allergies and affect how you sleep. If you have extra baking soda in your pantry, sprinkle it on your carpet and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up to deodorize your floor. Consider decluttering as well. The less stuff you have out means fewer surfaces dust or germs can rest on.
I am going to try and take some of my own advice in the next few weeks — and I hope you do too! Self-isolation can only take you so far in avoiding infection. Strengthening your immune system through changes in your diet, environment and daily routine are proactive ways to defend yourself from the coronavirus, the flu or even allergies. Good luck and stay healthy!
Maria Marabito is a third-year English major with a literature and diverse cultures minor. MM883631@wcupa.edu