We are heading into winter now and the big questions people are asking themselves.
How will COVID-19 impact me as we come out of isolation?
Is there going to be a second round?
Why do some people have COVID-19 and not get any symptoms? Could I have had it and not have known?
These are very good questions we should be asking ourselves.
Across the world, leaders are making decisions on the future of health and economies based on current, but still evolving data. Along with this, here in Australia, we have seen two long and protracted flu seasons in the last three years with the largest number of patients in 18 years presenting to hospitals with symptoms of the flu in 2019. This coincided with 2019 being one of the most successful years for the flu vaccination compliance. We have heard in the media about how life will not get back to normal until a vaccine is available for COVID19. It could be ages!
It begs the question, “What do I need to do to protect myself?” An excellent question we must ask ourselves if we are to begin to understand our body and what it means to be in good health. Our health is our true friend. Rather than step out in fear and trepidation let us step out of COVID-19 with more understanding about ourselves and our intention to heal our future.
So how do we truly know if we are looking after our health? Making your body not susceptible to disease is the prime objective in living a healthy life. Establishing a good routine is like putting systems into your business so good things happen automatically. A good routine keeps you feeling energised and overcomes the feelings of daily stress very quickly. Once you have a routine that keeps you from feeling fatigued at the end of the day, you have achieved a balance in life that is healthy.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, before the days of vaccines, antibiotics, Panadol or Ibuprofen, it was believed very important to be mindful of the following:
- Keep your body warm
- Get good quality rest
- Avoid the wind, fatty foods or stimulants
The idea is to allow the body to self-heal by giving it all the resources to do the job effectively. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners since before the 1st Century AD and many more cultures have not lost their way from tradition but rather include the wisdom of their past and add it to everyday modern practices.
It is important for you to understand your constitution, its strengths and its vulnerabilities. Once you get a clearer idea of your body and its reactions to the environment, you will have more control over your health in a way that is dynamic and pre-emptive. It is then, that you can pick up the early signs of illness and that your body is under attack. It is during these times that you can impact your outcome one of two ways. You get sick, or you don’t feel the symptoms of sickness as your immunity is dealing with the problem effectively.
One of the first symptoms of the body trying to heal itself, may be a funny crawly feeling on the skin, a slightly higher temperature than normal, a sore throat or an abnormal feeling of fatigue may overcome you.
As we approach the coldest season of the year it is important to look after your body temperature. When going out into public places we are advised to keep our social distance. But also consider the environment and how your body temperature is reacting. I would suggest a scarf or collared clothing to protect your head and neck.
Your body will want to warm you up to fight off a virus. If you find yourself standing in a windy area your body will automatically bring your circulation to the skin surface to protect your thermal regulation. Beware! If you are already under the weather, then standing in a windy doorway whilst chatting to someone you haven’t seen for awhile, may be all that is needed to leave yourself more vulnerable.
Let me give you a popular scenario. Imagine that your immunity is already fighting to keep you healthy from the previous night’s outing where you drank too much but had a great time with friends. High sugary foods and drink reduce your immunity but it’s not bad enough for your body to give you any signs that something is wrong, other than you feel a bit groggy the next morning. Not to be dissuaded from your normal routine of grocery shopping the next day, you head out to your normal shopping centre but find you start to feel chilled. Your body is now under attack and is trying to raise your temperature as an automatic defence mechanism. This is the time you really need to go home, have a nice hot shower or bath, a warm ginger tea drink in the tummy, rug up under the bed covers and fall asleep. By the time you wake up the next morning you should feel refreshed and ready to go again. If you don’t, then you didn’t catch the immune attack early enough.
Consider this, if you chose to take the time to listen and understand the language of your body, do you think you would take the time to strengthen it when it was vulnerable?
Would you look after your body if it was feeling fatigued and give it the rest, or tell it to just push through the fatigue?
If your body was letting you know it was thirsty, would you quench your thirst or put it off for a more convenient time?
All too often in our day-to-day life of being busy, or having other people’s demands on us, we find we do the things that hurt us more often than what helps us. Why is this? Why are we more inclined to put someone else first before we help ourselves? In the case of an emergency, when we go through first aid training, we must first be aware of the danger to ourselves before we assist others. Whilst on a plane, the pre-flight safety briefing reminds us that before we are to assist others, we must first apply the oxygen mask to ourselves. Good advice for life in general. Not to be selfish, but before we help others, we need to ensure we are looking after ourselves first.
There is much to be learned about our body and how it works. Clearly it is complex, dynamic, adaptable, and enduring. If we give it just a small opportunity to perform well, it will be there for us when we really need it.
The information given in the above article is of general advice only and it is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice or to be used as a treatment for COVID-19 or any other transmissible disease. Always seek the advice of your health professional at the earliest incidence for your health needs.
Coronavirus: The world in lockdown in maps and charts. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52103747 Flu season which struck down 310,000 Australians ‘worst on record’ due to early outbreaks.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-11/early-outbreaks-to-blame-for-worst-flu-season-on-record/11949320 Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Patients Infected with 2019-New Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2): A Review and Perspective. International Journal of Biological Sciences 2020; 16(10):17098-1717. Published online 15th March 2020