Take Control of Your Health

By Lillie Birch

With the arrival of fall, we are moving into a wonderful season full of beautiful colors and crisp autumn air that draws you outdoors. However, along with the excitement of the changing seasons, this time of year can often bring with it more sickness as well. No one likes to be sick, but let’s face it…everyone gets sick at some point.

Our bodies were specially designed with an innate immune system. The immune system is what fights off illness. For most people, it is amazingly good at its job. In fact, it is so good that we often do not even know we have come in contact with something that could compromise our health. Other times, the immune system becomes overwhelmed, and we get sick.

Most people understand this basic idea of how the immune system works, but you may not realize there are things you can do daily to help your immune system function properly. The following list will by no means keep you from ever getting sick, but it is a basic tool kit to enable your immune system to do its job.

DRINK WATER
Staying hydrated is so incredibly important to overall health. Our bodies use a lot of water, and it is very easy to become dehydrated to some degree without even realizing it, especially if you do not drink water regularly. Soda, fruit juice, and similar drinks are tasty, but they are full of sugar and other additives. What your body truly needs is fresh, clean water. If you are someone who struggles with needing flavor in your drink, add a squeeze of lemon. This can actually help your body utilize the water to make sure you are getting the most hydration possible, as well as add some flavor.

BREATHE
This one might seem obvious, but have you ever stopped and thought about the breaths you take? Breathing deeply is so important. It can help oxygenate your blood, make you more alert, relax your body, and even help calm your anxiety. These are all good things that bring your immune system into a more balanced state. Breathe in through your nose and fill your belly with air. Then slowly breathe out your mouth with control until you empty your lungs. Do this multiple times for an easy, healthful breathing exercise.

SLEEP
The more sleep deprived you are, the more likely you are to get sick. Our bodies heal while we sleep. It is a time of refreshment to be ready to function the next day, but also a time of restoration for our mind and body. A full night’s sleep can be hard to achieve, but our bodies need it just like they need water and air. If you find yourself restless or unable to sleep, you may consider adding a magnesium cream to your nightly routine. Magnesium is said to promote restful sleep and calm mood, among other benefits.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Get your body moving…on purpose. For many, movement (running from place to place) seems like something that happens all day long, however, your body needs intentional movement. Planned movement that pushes your muscles, gets your heartrate elevated, and clears your mind. Exercise of some kind, whether it be an intense boot camp regimen or simply taking a walk every day, will help support your immune system as well as bring a greater sense of mental stability.

SUNSHINE
Our world often says that sunshine is bad because it can burn you. Burning your skin in the sun is not healthy and should be avoided. However, our bodies were made to soak up the sun. When your skin is in direct sunlight, your body produces Vitamin D. Daily doses of Vitamin D is essential to overall health. We know we cannot always get outside in the sun and the sun is not shining everyday to be able to get direct sunlight. Thankfully, you can also supplement with Vitamin D pills that can easily be purchased at a local health food store. Natural sun exposure on as much bare skin as possible is the best though, so take advantage of warm, sunny days. Take care not to be exposed too long. Your goal is to become a little pink and then find shade or cover up.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are other important vitamins and minerals your body needs to function optimally as well. Do your own research and equip yourself to take care of your body. Your health is your own. It belongs to you, and you are in control if you want to be. The more you know, the better you will be at supplying your body with what it needs to help you stay healthy and get better quickly when you do fall ill.

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