Chartered Institute
of Linguists

It’s more important than ever to boost our immunity to keep stress levels at bay

By Gabriela Bocanete

The current situation with Coronavirus is causing heightened stress for many people.  We already live in a world of stress and anxiety caused by the news, social media, constantly being online and expected to react/respond within seconds for work, 24/7. Add to that the panic-driven news and the tone with which the politicians have been discussing the contingency measures, and we have a timebomb of many more people getting seriously ill because of the heightened stress.

Fear is a critical factor that we need to address, since it exacerbates stress and anxiety, and therefore lowers our immune capacity. I’d like to invite you to drop the fear first. I’m not thinking of aggressive fearlessness (like that displayed in action movies), but a state of calm fearlessness, which is kind and nurturing. Let’s all live in a state of loving kindness; loving kindness to ourselves first, and then to those around us.

The practices I usually teach are simple and effective; mostly they are ancient practices that are now being brought back into the therapy rooms of spas and wellbeing centres; once learned correctly, you can do most of them on your own – you only need your body, your awareness and to make the practice a priority. You will soon reap the benefits.

Stress and anxiety lower the immune response and create more vulnerable states that leave us more exposed. Now more than ever, we need to make a constant conscious effort to come back to a state of calm & balance, to reduce our levels of stress (which keeps us in fight, flight or freeze) and return to the Thrive state, when our body can rest, digest, regenerate and heal. 

One of the most effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety is breathwork. By deliberately observing the quality of your breath, it almost automatically improves. Make it a little slower, a little longer (breathing in and out through the nose), and you’ll soon notice the calmness taking hold of your mind. Moreover, this state of Calm & Balance is also catching, just like Stress is. Sometimes people around you will also become more calm & balanced by synchronising their breath rhythms to yours even without realising. Obviously the environment plays an important role; make it as serene as possible, decluttered and soon you may notice these subtle changes.

If you can go to a massage therapist, or your favourite reiki practitioner, then this would great at this time.  For people for whom this is not available, there are many other things that are just as good, if practiced frequently and mindfully.  Hug your loved ones more often, and spend time with your pets. Remember the power of a loving touch, for example rubbing your tummy gently in a clockwise direction with your hand can be soothing and relieve stress.  Massaging your hands and forearms is also easy and can have a calming effect.  If you practice yoga or pilates, you will know the exercise called rolling like a ball which lifts your mood.  Also practice swinging, undulating movements from a standing posture. If you have a garden then spending time enjoying nature is calming, and you could even roll on the grass like a child!  (Some of these exercises are demonstrated in the videos on my website

Stockpiling canned foods and pasta will not help the general health situation in the least. We need to eat nutrient-rich foods. If you have a patch of land, now is the time to plant some edibles. If you rely on shop-bought, you can freeze most of the vegetables and they will keep their quality nutrients for longer.   

Make bone broth or chicken broth from organic ingredients, freeze some of it in smaller portions (in glass jars) for later use as a base in risottos, stews, creamy soups or to make quinoa, brown rice, etc.

If you think your diet is not sufficiently nutritious, supplement with good quality Vit C (3 grams daily). Also increase your consumption of sweet peppers, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, leafy greens, kiwi, etc.

In the UK we have very little sunshine, so most of us are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements in liquid form are absorbed easier than in pills. Foods rich in vitamin D are eggs, salmon, mushrooms (especially beneficial are shitake, reishi, lion’s mane).

Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, beef liver are rich in vitamin A. All these products can be frozen and they won’t lose their nutritional value.

Seaweed is also rich in minerals; garlic, oregano, thyme & rosemary have antiviral properties. Other spices such as ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper can help fight inflammation caused by high levels of stress. Avoiding all kinds of sugars, simple carbs (flours) and alcohol is a good idea. Sugary foods and simple carbs (cheap bakes, sweetened cereals, etc.) impair the absorption of vitamin C, so they should best be eliminated.

Get in touch if you’d like to have a tailor-made nutrition plan, if you wish to improve your sleep quality, get rid of digestive troubles or simply to increase your Calm, Vitality and Resilience