If the outbreak of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has turned you into a budding wellness enthusiast, you are not alone. The spread of the virus and the social distancing measures put in place to combat it have put a renewed focus on the value of preventive medicine, in addition to highlighting the importance of mental health as it relates to coping with stress and anxiety.
“I feel like now has been an opportunity to double down on health — even for me,” says Rachelle Robinett, a clinical herbalist, holistic health practitioner, and founder of Supernatural. “We are stuck at home. A lot of us don’t have more to do; we have less to do. We can really take the time to breathe, meditate, and read.”
From yoga and meditation to herbs and supplements, there is no limit to the healthy diet and lifestyle changes one can make in support of mental and physical wellbeing. But, if you don’t know kundalini from vinyasa or ashwagandha from reishi, where should you even begin? We asked Robinett and a fellow wellness expert, Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon, for their at-home tips to boost immunity and manage stress and anxiety.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
“Immunity needs to be taken very seriously and not just in the coming weeks,” Bacon says. “The concern over COVID-19 may tone down, but the daily preventative measures need to become a lifestyle.” As she explains, the pandemic has created a new appreciation for self care and preventative care, as people begin to understand how the health and quality of one bodily system impacts all the others.
“I am a big proponent of diet and lifestyle being essential parts of our wellbeing,” Robinett adds. And it doesn’t require major life changes to make a significant impact. Both Bacon and Robinett agree that simple habits like sleeping well and eating clean can improve overall health and wellbeing.
Sleep Smarter: It’s not just about getting enough rest. Instead, it is important to sleep “with the sunrise and sunset as much as possible,” Robinett says, while maintaining a regular schedule.
Get More Light: While too much UV exposure is not good, too little is disruptive to our sleep cycles, rhythms, and mood. Robinett recommends “standing outside and getting your face and your eyeballs calibrated with the light,” while Bacon says it is also beneficial to soak up the sun on your abdomen and thighs. If sunlight is scarce in your neck of the woods, Robinett is a fan of the sun lamps used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Eat Well: Sure, you may be relying on takeout or canned and frozen foods at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a well-balanced diet. Both Bacon and Robinett warn against sugar and processed foods that spike cortisol levels and suppress the immune system in favor of high-quality, plant-based eats.
Tend to the Mind: “I have enrolled myself in way more classes than ever before because everything is online right now,” Robinett shares, noting that many virtual sessions are donation-based or completely free. On any given day, she has signed up for morning yoga, lunchtime meditation, and evening Bhuddist classes. “Maybe that is overboard, but it helps us not be bored,” she says.
Rather than spending your days overwhelmed by news reports, take time to focus on your own needs. “I am being especially cognizant of every food choice, incorporating lots of herbs and taking breaks to meditate,” Robinett explains. “I am making sure I am doing a little bit of yoga in the morning and some kind of home exercise at night.” While it is impossible to disconnect from what is going on in the world, she says this quiet time at home can feel a bit like a retreat, if you let it.
Immune-Boosting Wellness Routines
As Bacon sees it, one thing that will likely come from the coronavirus outbreak is a newfound appreciation for natural remedies. When you consider that New York-area hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients with large doses of vitamin C after reports that doctors in China used it with promising results, it is clear that she’s onto something. And, fortunately, she says it is “never too late to start” and “never too late to regenerate.”
So, what herbs and supplements do wellness experts like Bacon and Robinett rely on to stay healthy? They break down their immune-fortifying daily routines below:
Amanda Chantal Bacon’s Daily Routine
With a regimen that is already focused on preventive care, Bacon hasn’t had to make too many adjustments to her diet or supplement intake. “The only thing I’m doing differently now is that I’ve upped my vitamin D levels,” she shares.Embedded content: https://www.instagram.com/p/B8omm-fgLLI/
She starts her day with the Moon Juice SuperYou capsules because “it reduces cortisol by at least 30 percent.” As she sees it, unmanaged stress impacts mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing, and, as a result, much of her research focuses on the effects of stress and cortisol on the body. She believes everyone should start their day with some kind of stress-management supplement. If not SuperYou, ashwagandha works as well, she says.
In addition to spending time in the sun, she maintains adequate vitamin D levels by taking vitamin D3 in capsule form. She suggests 5,000 units of vitamin D a day as maintenance, but ups her dosage to 8,000 to 10,000 units for short periods of time when she is concerned about her health.
While she says liposomal (i.e. fat soluble) vitamin C is the gold standard, it may be hard to find at the moment. For general wellbeing, she takes 1,000 mg of vitamin C twice a day and will increase the frequency to every four hours when she under the weather because the antioxidant has a “shelf life” in the body.Embedded content: https://www.instagram.com/p/B6qamHHgtQv/
Beta glucans, like the ones found in high quality reishi supplements, are “good for keeping immunity up,” Bacon says. She takes beta glucans in the form of her Spirit Dust powder mixed into coffee or a tonic because it tastes good, but a teaspoon of reishi alone can be added to broth, smoothies, and coffee. If you prefer a shot, she suggests mixing the teaspoon of reishi with almond milk. But newbies be warned: reishi is an acquired taste.
Additionally, she treats the Moon Juice SuperHair supplement as a “multivitamin” because it contains minerals and plant extracts like biotin, kelp, saw palmetto, horsetail, ashwagandha, and ginseng that promote more than just healthy hair growth. Last but not least, she ends her day with the brand's Magnesi-Om powder because depleted levels of magnesium increase cortisol, while elevated cortisol levels deplete magnesium in the body. The powder helps to replenish what is lost during the day.
Rachelle Robinett’s Daily Routine
Like Bacon, Robinett hasn’t made too many changes to her herbal routine in response to the coronavirus, and it is similarly packed with herbs, supplements, tonics, and tinctures that promote physical and mental health.Embedded content: https://www.instagram.com/p/B8buBmKF5zp/
- Probiotic + Prebiotic fiber because, she says, “gut health is important for immunity and mood.”
- Mucuna pruriens (a.k.a. dopamine bean) + Metagenics SeroSyn (for serotonin) because the combination is “good for anti-anxiety and mood support first thing in the morning.”
- High-dose vitamin D (taken with food), zinc, and vitamin A for immunity (note: while the zinc and vitamin A can be taken together, they should not be taken at the same time as the vitamin D as it may impact absorption)
- A high-fiber smoothie with astragalus, greens, fruit, and the CAP Beauty 8AM supplement
Additionally, Robinett likes to incorporate “fresh green herbs,” like parsley, cilantro, thyme, basil, rosemary, and oregano, wherever she can. “People know oil of oregano, but that comes from oregano. You can use oregano to get those same benefits,” she shares. “Those are potent medicines. If you can eat them, juice them, put them in salads, it is really worth it.”
- Lots of water
- Fresh ginger (juiced or blended)
- Pukka teas, which she has “dumped in a big bowl” that her and her husband grab from all day long
- Lunch, in the form of “a whole bunch of vegetables and healthy fat”
Happy Hour In addition to a kava tincture, Robinett mixes some combination of herbal bitters, St. John’s Wort, damiana, nervine herbs (i.e. herbs for your nervous system like lavender, lemon balm, and oat) with sparkling water for an immune-boosting “herbal mocktail.” If you prefer something warm, she says the same ingredients can be mixed with hot water as well.
Evening Like lunch, her dinner involves “a whole bunch of vegetables and healthy fat.” After-dinner, she prepares a hot tea or elixir that contains cinnamon (her go-to is the Burlap & Barrel Royal Cinnamon), magnesium glycinate, cacao, lavender, and other nervine herbs. “Cinnamon is really good for stabilizing blood sugar,” she says. She opts for magnesium glycinate because it has all the muscle-relaxing benefits without the gastrointestinal distress. The nervine herbs, meanwhile, add an additional dose of calm before bed. “Sometimes it’s a tea. Sometimes it’s a tea, plus a tincture. Sometimes it’s a tea, plus a tincture, plus a powder,” she says of her nightcap. “It’s a layered approach.”
Whether you are ready to commit to a multi-step supplement routine a la Bacon and Robinett or just want to add a yoga flow to your day, tending to your mind and body is especially necessary during stressful times. “This may be the longest amount of time that many of us will not have to rush,” Robinett says of this socially distant period. “When is the last time you haven’t had to rush for weeks at a time? It’s a reminder to let things take longer if they need to.” That includes the time you take for yourself.
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