Who couldn’t use fun and free immune system boosters when the world has gone into a total tail-spin?
Last time we met, we ran through super food immune system boosters to keep us healthy and to hit the gas pedal on our recovery times during these insane pandemic times!
I, personally, am giving it my best shot. My celery juice drinks have the gratifying viscosity of apple sauce (and no, no cheese clothes were on hand), but we can’t all be Master Chefs with a blender or any kitchen appliance for that matter.
These bad boys elicit two of our three favorite F-words: Fun and Free!
You need an inspiration and “guiding light” to show you the way? Well, you’re in luck!
America’s most unexpected sweetheart and social media sensation, Leslie Jordan, has nominated himself to be your Quarantine Spirit Animal! Sorry, Mary Lou Retton.
We’ve covered, beyond the point of reason, all the health benefits of laughter, so I won’t dare repeat how laughter:
- Stimulates our organs. The act of laughing increases our oxygen intake to invigorate our lungs, heart, and muscles. It also causes our brain to release additional endorphins.
- Supports our stress response. A hearty laugh revs up and then relaxes our stress response. Simultaneously, it increases and then decreases our heart rate and blood pressure, leaving us feeling nice and chill.
- Eases tension. Laughter stimulates circulation and supports muscle relaxation, reducing the physical symptoms of stress.
- Releases stress and illness-fighting neuropeptides.
- Alleviates pain. Laughter stimulates the production of natural painkillers in our body.
You need some recommendations on hilarious, not PG-friendly shows to watch? Well, we have:
- Schitt’s Creek (on Netflix). A take on the traditional riches to rags story (errr . . . maybe not so traditional) of a ridiculously wealthy family losing everything and is forced to move to the boonies. How will they survive? If that doesn’t lure you in, then Moira’s sleepwear of upscale daytime wear and puzzling accent will!
- #BlackAF (also on Netflix). A hilarious and insightful take on achieving the American Dream and much more against the odds. Also, Kenya Barris’ widespread use of “dude” with everyone from his friends, to his wife, to his young children is comedy gold.
- Veep (on HBO). In a town (Washington, DC) where everyone believes they’re self-important, one quickly realizes how powerless they actually are. And this is especially true of the lowly Vice President’s office—cue the snide comments, spirited blame-games, and incessant temper tantrums. It’s free on HBO Streaming for a few more days!
For more family-friendly fare, Black-ish is excellent, The Goldbergs will give you a hit of ‘80s nostalgia, and Fresh Off the Boat will scratch your ‘90s needs.
And if none of that does it for you, your very own Quarantine Spirit Animal will come to the rescue!
We’ve also previously discussed in crazy depth the wondrous benefits of exercise during the apocalypse.
You might be thinking, “That’s not fun. Exercise super sucks.” Well, certainly in the beginning this is more than true.
Thankfully, I’ve already conned you into working out with Fitness Blender’s free YouTube videos, so you’re not starting from scratch, right? Or maybe not.
But Alex Korb, PhD explains that we may not feel like doing exercise due to low serotonin. This neurotransmitter regulates our energy levels, mood, and cravings – it is key to our sense of happiness and well-being.
There’s good news! Exercise, even yoga, will boost our serotonin production.
So, we should try to override the urge to kick back and eat cookie dough, and literally get moving.
Not only are we building strength and endurance, but our improved cardiovascular and circulation systems deliver the cells and substances of our immune system throughout the body. How efficient!
Then you can bask in your healthy afterglow and binge on cookie dough, I promise!
Fun Fact!: You can also boost your serotonin by getting some sunshine or a message and remembering happy events! All exercise-free!
Okay, so maybe structured workouts aren’t your cup of tea. Maybe you need something more hip-shaking and rhythm-filled like dance or jazzercise (yes, Zumba’s predecessor is still alive and well – I couldn’t believe it either).
Master some moves and look super cool in the process.
The immune system benefits are obviously the same with both dance and exercise, but just be careful on those high kicks and baton twirls.
So, while we’re working out, dancing, or yoga-ing, energetic music always puts a little pep in our step. In fact, music provides physical and psychological benefits!
Soothing music can reduce our cortisol levels, stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate.
That relaxing beat will also help us fall asleep at warp-speed and get a better night’s rest!
But before bedtime, we want to stay alert for the free concerts. And there are a mind-boggling number of them these apocalyptic days!
- NPR’s Tiny Desk Series now hosted in the comfort of each performers’ home
- NPR also has an impressive list of free live-streamed performances updated daily!
- The iHeart Midnight Concert Series hosts artists of all genres every weekday at midnight
- The New York Philharmonic Plays On!
- Free nightly operas from The Met!
After all this excitement and physical exertion, we need to sleep it off!
Without adequate rest, we may as well be inebriated since, according to our friends at the Mayo Clinic, the effects are all too similar: inattentiveness; slow reaction times; and poor coordination.
Yet, how 7 to 8 hours a night is a game-changer! Sleep helps:
- Regulate hormones, like cortisol, to manage stress and to keep our immune system strong
- Support muscle tissue repair
- Eliminate waste from our cells, restoring our immune system
Once we’re refreshed, we can calm our mind and thoughts with some meditation.
Clinical studies show that meditation reduces anxiety and depression, improves mood, stimulates regions of the brain that direct the immune system, and supports overall immune system health!
In fact, one study found that individuals who attended a weekly meditation training for two months had significantly higher levels of anti-bodies than their peers who did not.
Another study confirmed that mindfulness meditation curbs loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults (double good news for those of us living alone now!).
Deepak Chopra finds this to be evidence of how our thoughts – positive or negative – are transmitted to our body, including our immune system.
To support our optimal mind-body balance, he’s offering a free 21-day meditation program (insta-friendship with Oprah may or may not be included).
Also, there are heaps of free apps to choose from, including this stellar one from UCLA.
An Abundance of Options!
All in all, what one considers “fun” immune system boosters depends upon the person, the day, the nano-second.
Thankfully, there are so many enticing options to choose from!
Just be sure to avoid getting overwhelmed and stressed out by the abundant selection. We have time . . . enough time that it’s now advisable to wear your beloved Storm Trooper helmet in public for the next six months.