Few things are more important to moms than protecting our kids, and the list of things from which we have to protect our kids can seem never-ending. Now more than ever, illness is one of the top things on a lot of parents’ lists. One of the best ways to protect our children from getting sick is by not getting sick ourselves. Here are some surprising ways to boost your immune system beyond diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep.
Simply going outside has many immune system health benefits. This is the mindset behind the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” It is the practice of spending intentional, mindful time in nature, and it has been shown to boost one’s immune system. Exposure to sunlight also boosts the production of Vitamin D, which activates the immune system.
Stress affects your body’s ability to fight illness. That means reducing stress will boost your immune system. This can include practicing deep breathing, taking breaks, enjoying a favorite hobby, or getting a massage, all of which have a number of other health benefits, as well. In other words, anything from gardening to reading a novel to kickboxing can boost your immune system if it relieves your stress. So do it!
As it turns out, laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter is an effective stress-reliever, which, as we just noted, boosts your immune system. But laughter also releases proteins called neuropeptides, which increase communication in your body’s immune system, making it run more efficiently.
Creative arts—whether it’s singing, writing, dancing, or simply tapping your toe to some of your favorite songs—are great stress-relievers and therefore immune-boosters. Furthermore, individual arts have their own benefits. For instance, singing has been shown to increase the number of antibodies in the system, and creative writing can boost T-cell count. Similar immune system-boosting results have been found for music and dance.
We know—it sounds counterintuitive. After all, don’t you want to stay away from other people and their germs? But getting a hug not only instantly boosts oxytocin and serotonin levels, which reduces stress, but it also stimulates the thymus gland, which produces white blood cells. Getting a hug can also stave off feelings of loneliness. The perception of not having social connections also takes a toll on your immune system, and hugs can relieve that.
Healthy kids start with healthy parents, and healthy parents start with strong immune systems. Finding ways to boost your immune system is simple and will enrich your family’s life. You may not be able to protect your kids from everything, but you can take steps to ensure that their world—and yours—is a little safer.
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