Many of us are asking: “How do I develop a strong natural immune system?”
Well, whether the resilient in Squamish and in West Vancouver know it or not, many of them were doing just that on the weekend.
In West Vancouver, hundreds of people were walking or sitting on the beach respecting distance. As I drove home to Squamish, I noted hiking spots were filled with cars, people were swimming in a cold lake, and children were laughing as they splashed in the cold river.
All of these creative individuals were boosting their natural innate immune system reserves. They were building contentment and happy brain responses by supporting the neurotransmitter called serotonin.
Serotonin basically helps our body reduce stress, release toxins, and discern more brilliantly between good and bad bacteria and viruses.
We always want to ensure the balance is on the side of the good guys!
Being out in nature has always been a recipe for building resilience and supporting health and healing. Eating real food versus processed food or ‘junk’ food, and fruits, actually eating nothing with added sugar; getting enough sleep; ensuring adequate exercise; developing a sense of inner capacity; nurturing close interpersonal relationships; and, starting and ending each day with a gratitude statement, are my idea of seven immune-boosting secrets, all supporting serotonin.
What is the opposite of this opportunity for growing contentment?
Dopamine is a pleasure-seeking transmitter that demands more short-term and often instant pleasure. Sadly, this neurotransmitter adjusts quickly and asks for more and more, while in the meantime we are less content, and far less happy, as we seek the pleasure or reward response over and over.
Here are some examples: craving for sugar in any form, in soda, fruit juice, pop, processed foods; technology, having to have our iPad or cellphone near us and in almost constant use or craving it; misuse of alcohol or other substances, or even too much shopping; and sometimes either too much down-time or too much hyper-rushing and the need for distraction.
When we are honest with ourselves, when we are craving and may be flirting with an addiction, and are less content, we are chained to the dopamine-reward cycle. A healthy body and healthy decisions support the serotonin cycle and contentment.
If we stay home alone, distance from social contacts, feel afraid and disempowered, and stack stress onto more stress due to financial or other hardships, we are more likely to turn to unhealthy dopamine-producing short term unhelpful pleasures.
Even if they bring immediate reward it does not last, and over time we feel more depleted, and our mood deteriorates. We may feel physically unwell, and less motivated resulting sometimes in anger or anxiety or a very low mood that gets stuck.
Let’s reclaim our right to resilience by making choices that support our innate immune system. Plan for resilience by incorporating the seven immune boosting secrets.
Squamish resident and co-ordinator for health and human services and private practice at Langara College.