No one wants to be this one person who seems to get every single virus going through the office. In order to stay away from the seasonal flu and niggles, one must have a strong immune system. For years, I believed that some of us were just lucky. I looked at those people who never get sick and wondered why the rest of us were so unlucky. As timed passed, I realised that it wasn’t all down to luck but rather linked to our lifestyle and habits.
Here are the 5 key elements which I believe are essential in order to have a strong immune system. This is by no means scientifical – and I am sure that there so much more that can be done to boost your immune system – but this is what has been working for me.
I can’t stress how important sleep is. I actually wrote an entire article about sleep and its benefits and yes, a boost of the immune system is one of them. Simply put, your body can’t fight much if you are tired. When feeling under the weather, sleep is one of the first cure most of us would think of, and this instinctively. I must admit that it isn’t always easy, life is busy and getting your 7 to 8 hours a night is often a challenge. But it is worth it. If what stops you from sleeping more is a lack of time, just think of all the time you will waste when being ill. Getting a good amount of shut off time is actually the best way to stay healthy!
I always knew that having a healthy and balanced diet was key to a good health but this became particularly true to me a couple of years ago. I was at the time studying for my master and as many students do I had a really poor diet. Coffee and packed noodles were making up for a good 60% of my food intake and fresh vegetables had become the exception rather than the rule. I predictably started to get ill really often and realised that I needed to fuel my body with fresh and nutritious food. My favourite trick to remain fit during winter is to drink a glass of hot water with fresh lemon and a bit of ginger every morning. A great way to quick off the digestive system and boosting the immune system.
3. Stress control
Right. This is not an easy one. Stress is a constant part of life. Everyone experiences stress and it is not something which you can totally remove from your life but you can learn to control it. I am by no mean an expert but I feel that I have learnt to control my stress over the years. For many years running was my primary way to release stress. Whilst is a great way to let go of everyday stress, you can’t really start running around the office when your boss comes to your desk with a revised deadline. I started to do yoga and meditation over a year ago and I feel that it has been an amazing way to re-discover myself. At first, yoga was my worst nightmare. I like to jump, sing and run. Sitting in the same position for 5 minutes was actually stressful! But I learnt to stretch, listen to my body, relax and breathe. And that my friends, is rather awesome!
This is very much linked to the question of controlling your stress and emotions. I often say that thinking positive brings positive and I truly believe that this is not only true for your everyday life and relationships with others but also for your health. As a matter of fact, psychologists in the field of “psychoneuroimmunology” have shown that state of mind affects one’s state of health. Surrounding yourself with positive and happy people will then help in staying healthy. This means working on yourself to ensure that you are in the right set of mind, as what you give is often what you get.
Exercise can be a great way to boost your immune system. It helps to stay fit and healthy and slows down the release of stress-related hormones. A real winner. I won’t try to argue this one because I am already sold, however, I must say that like everything, it must be done in moderation. Too much exercise, such as long-distance runs, can actually have a negative impact on your immune system. So grab your trainers and get out there, just remember to listen to your body, especially if you are feeling under the weather!