How you feel can affect your ability to carry out everyday activities, your relationships, your overall mental health and your immunity in flu season, a double whammy with COVID-19.
Emotional resilience is the ability to successfully process emotions, handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times. The idea isn’t ‘good vibes only’ or to be able to bat away sadness, fear, or loneliness — that’s an impossible task and can result in a blowout or psychosomatic manifestations in the body.
Instead, building emotional resilience can help you process those feelings and get yourself to a better place when they come flooding in. It has never been a more important thing to cultivate. Even those of us who aren’t feeling emotionally “sick” by now are pretty run down or need more self-care, self-compassion and self-awareness than ever before. And, with the elections, holidays, Seasonal Affective Disorder on the horizon, it’s crucial to keep our emotional wellness in check. Doing so will also help boost our immunity and the efficacy of our natural killer (NK) cells, innate cells of the immune system that combat viruses and even fight tumors.
Here is a short and simple guide to boost your emotional immunity in preparation of the months to come:
- Express yourself by journaling or talking to someone: Studies have shown that clearing your head can drop a viral load and boost infection-fighting T-cells. When you name your emotions, you can work towards taming them!
- Get quality sleep: Avoid electronics for an hour before bed, and avoid caffeine late in the day.
- Strengthen social connections: Make a list of the friends and family members who make you laugh or feel good and prioritize a socially distanced, outdoor, or virtual hangout.
- Prioritize nutrition: Get your veggies in and be mindful of added sugar. Take note of how you feel after eating certain foods. We can all make one small shift toward prioritizing what we put in our bodies to optimize our energy and mood. Even drinking hot water with freshly squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning can alkalize your body, boost immunity and get your digestive organs moving.
- Exercise: Try to move for at least 30 minutes a day. The idea is to get out of your mind and into your body. You’ll boost endorphins, flush your organs, and strengthen your immune system. Avoid watching TV or stimulating your mind during this time. Be mindful of the type of exercise you choose. Sometimes yoga or a brisk walk are more helpful than an intense HIIT workout.
- Meditate or pray: Try meditating for five minutes daily. Insight Timer offers thousands of free meditations and live sessions with leaders from around the globe. This simple practice can help you focus, become a witness of your mind and body, and generate an impenetrable sense of calm. Prayer can also bring peace in times of turmoil. Check out Jennifer’s blog post for more on prayer!
- Avoid excessive consumption of news: Limit your usage of news and social media to give more time for self-care and choice in what you choose to consume.
- Focus on optimism: A study showed that participants who scored low on positive emotions were three times as likely to get sick than counterparts who were more optimistic. Cherish the moments that make you laugh, feel love or loved and just good, overall! Reflect on your accomplishments, what you’ve overcome, what you like about yourself. Balance negative news with positive news. Actively search for media sharing positive change in our world.
- Find purpose: Use this time to discover what matters most to you in life, what fuels your fire, and how you can bring more of that into your life!
- Breathe: We can regulate our nervous system with our breath, the most powerful, fully accessible and readily available tool. With a hand on the heart and the other on the belly, breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for two seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and pause for two seconds. Repeat this nine more times. YouTube has a plethora of breathwork tutorials for almost every emotion out there!
While this list may seem overwhelming, simply pick one or two to try out first for a week, and then two weeks and so forth. You can slowly weave them into your daily routine, until they become a healthy habit that you won’t want to give up because of how you feel after practicing them! To see the framework we use to build emotional resilience in our girls, check out this blog post! Support our girls in their own healing journeys here. Anything helps.
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