We all know that stress is detrimental to our wellbeing and plays a significant role in ill health. If stress depletes our health and vitality, it makes sense to say that fun, laughter and enjoying life are crucial for boosting our health, in particular increasing immune function and protecting us against infection.
Here are 6 ways to increase your vitality and get you smiling inside and out:
Laugh, laugh, laugh
Laughter actually increases the activity of your natural killer cells, helping you to fight off infection. A good laugh on a regular basis has also been shown to increase endorphins, your body’s own natural high. Make time each day to laugh. Surround yourself with upbeat, playful people to encourage a jolly atmosphere, watch comedy or join a laughter yoga class. Take yourself lightly and spend more time with children, they are the masters of fun and silliness.
Many studies have shown that people who live in a strong, supportive community have better health, lower death rates, lower blood pressure and stronger immune function. Isolated people, on the other hand, suffer more health problems, mental and physical, compared to sociable people who enjoy longer, healthier lives as a result. So, pick up the phone, arrange to see your friends, or make new ones by taking the effort to talk to new people. Throw a party, have a picnic, get to know your neighbours – do whatever you can to get connected.
It’s no secret that exercise boosts immunity and makes you feel good. You don’t have to exhaust yourself however, or sign up to a gruelling routine. Simply get moving more every day. Whether it’s dancing, swimming, cycling, walking in nature, just get moving.
If you sit at a desk all day, take the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus a few stops early or park the car a short walk away. Take a lunch break and take a stroll.
Exercises that have been proven to increase immune function are slow moving ones such as tai chi, chi gong and yoga. These keep your body out of the fight-or-flight response, improving your health and boosting your immunity.
As long as you do it with joy and mindfulness, indulging in some sensual pleasures will do wonders for your health. If you follow a healthy diet 80% of the time, you’ll enjoy treating yourself for the other 20%. It’s likely too that you’ll choose your treats wisely once you become mindful of them.
Choose the purest version of your chosen treat, for example, a healthy, homemade carrot cake instead of a factory-produced one. Even better, explore the tantalizing delights of gourmet raw food desserts. You can then indulge 100% guilt-free. Chocolate avocado mousse anyone?
Zinc boosts immunity by increasing your white blood cells. We all know that it is an important nutrient to fight off coughs and colds. Get your zinc regularly by eating raw nuts and seeds, seafood, fish, yogurt and meat if you eat it. (Choose organic, naturally reared, grass-fed, chemical-free meat where you can).
Relax, breathe and be still
Many people say that they do not have time to relax, yet it is crucial for reducing stress and creating a healthy immune system, and it’s not just physical relaxation that’s important. Switching off your busy mind will do much to improve the quality of your life.
Meditators have been shown to enjoy a healthier lifestyle overall compared to non-meditators. Taking quiet time to allow the mind to settle can bring renewed insight into stressful situations, as well as boosting immune function. The body comes out of its stress response when the mind is calm and relaxed.
Try breathing exercises for correct oxygenation of the body, crucial for prevention and healing of infections, and to reverse stress. Breathing deeply literally tells the body everything is ok. Enjoy a massage and be sure to get a good night’s sleep, these have both been shown to boost immunity.
It’s all in the balance
Like everything in life, it’s all about balance. It can be challenging to find and maintain the balance. Too often trying to be healthy becomes stressful in itself. Relax, have fun and take yourself lightly. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Article by Jo Rowkins dipNT MBANT, nutritional therapist and founder of awakening health.