You wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and keep a safe distance from other people. What else can you do to boost immunity and avoid catching COVID-19? Relax!
According to researchers at Northwestern University, when stress hormone levels drop, immune cells become stronger, slashing your risk of viral and bacterial infections by 45 percent, plus cutting recovery time in half if you do pick up a bug. These simple tips will help you reduce stress and keep your immune system strong.
Peep at the peonies.
Stepping outside to admire pretty pops of color in nature will cut stress hormone levels by 40 percent in 10 minutes, which can boost immunity for up to 12 hours per outdoor break, Yale researchers say. “To boost the benefits, decorate your home with your favorite potted plants,” suggests Austin Perlmutter, M.D., co-author of Brain Wash: Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness ($16.80, Amazon). “Surrounding yourself with nature, both outdoors and inside, is study-proven to keep stress levels low and immune strength high.”
Grill a salad.
We effortlessly eat 50 percent more vegetables when they’re grilled, since dry heat caramelizes plant sugars, making veggies yummier. And that’s great news for your health! Yale University researchers say vegetables are packed with calming, immunity-boosting nutrients (carotenoids), and consuming three cups daily can plunge stress levels by 66 percent, boosting the production of immune cells by 33 percent.
Put favorites on ‘repeat.’
When you feel yourself getting edgy, cue up a favorite song and listen to it twice! Doing so could make stress levels plummet by 68 percent and cut your risk of illness by 40 percent if you take a few “music breaks” daily. That’s the word from British researchers, who say listening to six minutes of music — the approximate length of two pop songs — is enough to calm the adrenal glands, tamping down the release of immunity-weakening stress hormones. Humming along? Optional!
Try an ancient herb.
Taking 500 mg. of the herb ashwagandha daily soothes rattled nerves, cutting edginess and anxiety by 70 percent and energizing immune cells in a week, five studies show. Explains psychiatrist Joy Kapoor, M.D., ashwagandha’s active ingredients (withanolides) help your nervous system respond calmly to challenges. One to try: Nature Made Ashwagandha Capsules ($16.99, Amazon). Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
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This story originally appeared in our print magazine.