Rest & Digest - Part 1
As a new mum of a 15 month old, not much has changed in our capacity, time and chaos. However, I have adapted our family living to focus on the 'Rest and Digest' theory.
Now, is the time to build up the immune system and help the body defend itself against viruses. An effective and proven way to build immunity is through rest.
Rest is vital, right now, more than ever before! For 3 weeks I have already adjusted my family eating habits and have prioritised sleep by going to bed an hour earlier. Despite some ‘ropey’ days when the little one is teething and unable to sleep, we feel far better than we have in a long time.
The ‘Rest and digest’ is the opposite to ‘fight and flight’. The point in resting is activating the parasympathetic system so that our body and mind can slow down! The benefits allows our internal body to reset and recover cells that need renewing.
The parasympathetic system is what our body needs to be in during this pandemic. A few examples of what the parasympathetic system does is:
Slowing down breathing
Enhances our lymphatic system
Promotes circulation to support immunity
A third of the world right now have been asked to stay at home. So use this time to help your body rest better.
The benefits of resting includes:
Ideas to promote rest internally and physically:
Eat 3 main meals and only two snacks a day with 2-3 hours break in between meals. Digesting food takes up a lot of energy so it is important to give your body a rest so that it can work on other areas like repairing cells.
Increase parasympathetic work outs rather than a cardio work out 3 times a week. You can do this through - live online video's - yoga, pilates, meditation.
Epsom salt baths an hour before bed 2/3 times a week and Increase foods containing magnesium. Magnesium is one mineral that is used up a lot when you catch viruses or are stressed and anxious. Increase your food supply of magnesium 3 times a week: pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, quinoa, black beans, spinach, kale, cashews.
Include some calming teas a couple of hours before bed like: passionflower, chamomilla, fresh ginger, lavender, peppermint. Avoid green tea and caffeine after 3pm.
Cherries increase melatonin levels which is the hormone that helps you sleep. Best not eaten just before bed but an hour and half before bed will be nice.
Download a meditation app - A few suggestions are: Insight Timer, Abide, Headspace
Switch off your phone 90 minutes before bedtime. No screen time
Practice slow calm breathing throughout the day. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose for a count of 6, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Hold your breath at the end to the count of three. Exhale slowly through your mouth for the count of 7. Repeat 5 times. Twice a day.
Our immune system is at high alert when cortisol and adrenaline is elevated. These two hormones are elevated through stress. This can weaken the immune system because the body works harder by releasing chemicals to help create balance. Going to sleep an hour earlier will make more of a difference than you realise. It gives the body space for it to work on each organ and detoxify, renew and rejuvenate through the night.
Find a routine before bed that you look forward to. Don't do anything stimulating like, shopping online, facetime, or watching the news. The bedtime routine should include calming activities such as a book, or adding some essential oils to a diffuser, dimming the lights, putting on some light music and spending the last hour winding down in your room away from any screens.
For those of us who are busy in the day chasing around kids remember to take a breath in between. My little son has barely ever slept through the night and has always battled sleep, however, I learnt to adapt and appreciate the quiet time I get, even if it is short. You do not need long in order for your body to re-set. Starting with a few deep breaths. A 10 minute break with breathing exercises just twice times a day will be efficient enough to help your body cope a little better.
**If you are pregnant - please seek medical advice from a qualified nutritional therapist as many herbs and products are not advised.