Written by Lisa Nicotera, DC, RN
The Turn Around: Part I

The Turn Around: Part I

It’s really easy to get caught up in fear right now. Lots of folks are panicky. I felt a little myself when I saw the empty grocery store shelves. No chicken, no toilet paper, no hemp milk. I felt afraid, just for a moment. Then, I just decided, not to let fear get the best of me. 

I chose to change my perspective and feelings, immediately. I chose calm, and to feel empowered to do what I can do, what I do have control of—turns out there is a lot! 

Yes, there is a virus out there, and we are being asked to wash our hands, stay in, and to keep a distance from each other to flatten the curve. We have a virus situation that needs to be taken care of, but there is something else that needs to be taken care of as well: stress and fear. 

The stress and fear that are being generated over this virus is, in my opinion, more dangerous. Stress and fear lower the immune system! Stress is the number one health threat, according to the American Institute of Stress. And in our modern world, stress is mainly the emotional and psychological reactions we have to events in our lives. This reaction is what we can learn to control. 

In this extraordinary time of ours, I propose we turn this situation around. Each one of us can deal with our fear and stress and turn on our immune systems! Together. There are many simple tools that have quick, effective, and proven results.

We can’t go outside as much—but we can go inside. And this is where we can improve our immune systems. We can take this time now, while the world is at a standstill, to ramp up our immune systems with the right thoughts, actions, and foods. It’s the perfect time to focus on self-care. And we will be more ready for the next time. 

Supplements that support the immune system are flying off the shelves just like toilet paper and chicken! Within our very bodies, though, we have amazing resources to reduce stress and improve immunity. And I’m going to tell you how. It’s time we harness our INNER resources. As I said, we have an amazing opportunity here. 

Stressful emotions, like fear and anxiety, reduce our immunity. The emotions of love, care, gratitude, and compassion, on the other hand, enhance the immune system. By spending time with our families, caring and looking out for each other, practicing mediation, yoga, deep breathing, and heart-centered techniques, we stimulate health-enhancing chemicals and hormones. There are many techniques to reduce stress and improve our immune function that are simple, quick, and effective. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Our brains have the capacity to react to our feelings and either release chemicals that are depleting or those that are rejuvenating and healing. One or the other, but not both at once. 
  • So if we are stressed, fearful, and in fight-or-flight mode, we release stress hormones like cortisol which lowers immunity. The body doesn’t have the time and energy for healing when it is in stress/fear. 
  • Many of these chemical reactions come from the heart. We now know that the heart sends more input to the brain that the other way around. The heart, talking to the brain, results in the release of chemicals for health or otherwise.  We can create healthful chemicals from our thoughts and feelings!
  • Gratitude, care, and compassion send signals to the brain which cause an increase in powerful immune system components and anti-aging hormones!

 It has been proven with laboratory measurements that just 3 minutes of generating certain positive feelings raises the immune system’s sIGA levels for up to 6 hours! 

The power of these positive emotions, and replacing depleting emotions,  can renew your system.

Here is one technique from the Heart Math Institute to start with today: 

  • Step 1. Focus your attention on the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual. (Suggestion: Inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds, or whatever rhythm is comfortable).
  • Step 2. Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. (Suggestion: Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment, etc., or focus on a feeling of calm or ease.)

I am choosing to meditate, practice deep breathing, and use this simple heart-brain technique several times a day for 3 minutes at a time to raise my immunity and whenever the stress and fear creep back in. If many of us do so, we can together raise our immunity and interrupt the fear that is sweeping the world. 

Will you help me turn this around? Each one of us can do our part to turn this wave of fear into a wave of gratitude and immunity.


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