Sick of getting sick? We all dread hearing the words, “it’s going around,” and no matter how tough you are, getting sick is brutal. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve tried to bargain with the man upstairs to get rid of my stuffy nose. We know the culprits: The flu, a nasty head cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, the Patriots making the Super Bowl.
Well, thankfully we’re free of that last one, but we’re not yet out of the woods when it comes to getting sick. Everyone will tell you to wash your hands with soap (which you should), but I’m not here to tell you the same things that your mom has been telling you since you were in diapers. While there’s no surefire way to protect yourself from germs, there are a few easy ways that you can boost your immune system naturally.
How to Naturally Boost Your Immune System
Here are Dr. Squatch approved habits that you probably haven’t heard of before that can help naturally boost your immune system. Read on to find out the 5 new habits that will have you feelin’ great year round.
1. Take Cold Showers
It may sound a little masochistic, but hear me out people.
Why Are Cold Showers Good For You?
Cold treatment has been proven to naturally boost the immune system and ward off sickness. This is because cold increases the metabolism and produces higher counts of white blood cells (the warriors of the immune system). It’s also been found that cold showers can increase testosterone and promote faster muscle recovery. Read more about the benefits of cold showers.
On top of all of that, when you turn off the water and step out of the shower, there’s a noticeable mood elevation, which I refer to as the ‘I feel like a boss’ headspace. Believe me, everything goes better after you do this. Below are some tips to getting started – it’s not as bad as it sounds, I swear!
Squatch Tips: How to Take a Cold Shower
- Start your shower warm.
- Do your regular grooming and washing routine in the warm water, which helps to open the pores and allows the soap to thoroughly cleanse your body. My favorite is this Nautical Sage soap, both for the refreshing scent and the boosted circulation from the essential oils in the ingredients.
- Then, before you can talk yourself out of it, quickly flip the temperature.
- Count to 30. The cold may take your breath away, but try not to gasp, and instead take deep, slow, deliberate breaths (more on breathing later). Your body will adjust and it won’t feel as brutal.
- Push on for another 30 seconds.
- Cut the water, and step powerfully into your day.
Just like cold showers, this is easy, free, and is bound to make a big difference in your chances to come out of flu season unscathed. Ever feel like you get sick at the worst times, like when you have a ton going on at work or a stressful situation at home?
Why is Meditation Good For Your Health?
Well, the head and the body are incredibly interconnected, and there really is a power to positive thinking. Positive thinking and regulating that negative chatter that we often have going on in our heads are a direct result of mindfulness and meditation. By regulating stress through meditation, you will feel better, happier and ultimately healthier – in both mind and body.
Squatch Tips: Meditation for Beginners
If you’re new to this, I recommend starting with guided meditations. Calm and Headspace are two great apps that offer free options to get you started. You also don’t have to meditate like a yogi to get these health benefits – just taking some time to yourself to relax, get out of your head and reset counts as meditation too.
Some ideas to get out of your head: go for a run, take a walk or a hike, lay on our couch and listen to your favorite song. Like the cold showers, even 10 min of meditating or time to yourself can have huge benefits to your immune system and an immense effect on your mood.
3. Regulated Breathing
Remember how I mentioned taking slow, deliberate breaths during the cold shower? Turns out breathing, which seems so basic, is at the center of our autoimmune system. There are massive benefits to harnessing the power of breath.
I now turn you over to Wim Hof, a badass Dutch dude sometimes referred to as ‘The Ice Man.’ He holds numerous records in cold immersion, ran a marathon through the Sahara without water, and hiked to 23,000ft on Mt Everest wearing only shorts and a pair of shoes. Yup, read that last one again.
He attributes all of these feats to breathing. For the every day guy like you and me who aren’t down to hike in shorts in sub-zero degrees, he’s developed breathing techniques that help everyday people regulate their autoimmune systems. You can get a taste of his methods here, for free.
4. Herbal Tinctures
To me, tincture sounds like some kind of potion or elixir in some obscure fantasy book. But they’re way more relevant and normal than I ever expected.
Health Benefits of Tinctures... And What's a Tincture in the First Place?
Basically, herbal tinctures are concentrated extracts, created by soaking the desired plant (or herb or flower) in alcohol. It’s a form of herbal medicine that has been around since before the ancient Egyptians, and many specific herbs can offer heightened protection against infections and diseases. It’s super easy (legitimately takes 10 seconds), and has some profound effects on boosting the immune system.
I personally went 11 months without getting sick when I started a daily regimen, which was about 3 times longer than my norm. And once it’s part of your routine, you won’t even think about it.
Squatch Tips: How Do You Use Tinctures?
I stick with 3 basic immune-supporting tinctures: Echinacea, Elderberry, and St John’s Wort (I just buy them online from Mountain Rose Herbs – when it comes to sustainability, these guys rock). Once they arrive, just follow these steps:
- Pour yourself half a glass of water
- Put 5 drops of each tincture in the glass (they come with an eye dropper).
And that’s it! Super easy. I like to drink this first thing in the morning before coffee, which also keeps me hydrated. If the taste is a little much (it doesn’t exactly taste like Coca Cola), add some lemon juice to mask the intensity.
Or level up and make your own. This is more labor and time intensive, but it’s pretty cool — and you get to feel like a true wizard potion maker in your own home. I’m not an expert tincture maker, so I’ll hand you off again to the folks at Mountain Rose Herbs – especially this guy with his glorious beard.
… If only there was a tincture for growing a beard like that. Let me know if you concoct one, I’ll give it a try.
5. Get Your Zzz
I know, I know. I sound like a broken record saying, “you really need to get your sleep” — but it’s really, really true. And as science and technology progress, we get deeper insights into this evolutionary reset button. It’s becoming more and more clear just how important sleep is.
How Does Sleep Affect Your Health?
Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep (highly recommend this book), gives sleep the scientific research it’s always deserved, giving us some insightful (sometimes scary) results. Basically, sleep affects memory. Sleep affects creativity. Sleep affects critical thinking and decision-making. AND sleep allows our immune systems to function at full power.
On the flip side, lack of sleep is connected to some of the most devastating health conditions in the modern world— Disrupted sleep in the womb is believed to be a major factor in autism. In teens, lack of REM and NREM sleep is linked to Schizophrenia. It’s also linked to heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. A bad night of sleep affects the neural connections in our brains, affecting our overall health.
And get this: it turns out that while we can get back to a regular sleeping pattern after a bad night, we can’t actually “make up” that lost sleep. So toss out the old “sleep when you’re dead” mentality and get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. Everything in your life—including your immune system—will thank you.
Check out the book, or if you’re more of a listener you can hear Dr. Walker on Joe Rogan.
That’s all for our Squatch tips for naturally boosting your immune system! Hopefully now you’ll start practicing some of these tips to make sure you can ward off the flu and any other germs that your coworkers may be sneezing on you. Now I’m off to go meditate and drink a nice tall glass of tinctures. Until next time, Squatch Nation!
*Just like with all homeopathic medicine, please use a healthy dose of common sense with these immune boosting tips, and if you have any questions about how your body may react, please consult your physician.