Catching every cold or flu that goes around is no fun, but if you have a weak immune system, it’s way more likely to happen to you. If you’re looking to improve your immune system and increase your body’s resiliency, try one or more of these eight strategies to get and stay healthy, from sleeping more to eating well.
Stress has been found to be one of the leading causes for when one’s immune system is not functioning properly. When your body is stressed out, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, thus making your body more susceptible to infections, infectious diseases and overall sicknesses. Luckily enough, you can prevent this by keeping a healthy state of mind. Take time out of your day to decompress and relax, especially if you are working from home. The anxieties and stresses of the current coronavirus pandemic have made working from home difficult, and people’s normal time for relaxation throughout the workday has been replaced with home-schooling children, conducting house chores and running errands. A great way to decompress at home is with a relaxing massage in a high-quality massage chair. By massaging and relaxing the muscles, your body’s stress levels will subside.
Yes, there is something that’s guaranteed to boost your immune system and, no, it’s not a supplement or a shake. Your body uses sleep to repair itself, making new proteins (aka the building blocks of the cell) while you snooze. Whether you’re fighting off an illness or injury or just trying not to get sick, sleep is your friend. You’re much better off skipping that expensive supplement and getting an extra hour of sleep instead. While everyone’s needs vary individually, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night to fully function and keep their immune systems in top shape. If you have trouble sleeping, there are several different things you can try, such as taking melatonin, muffling loud sounds with ear plugs or white noise and blocking out light with blackout blinds or curtains.
Exercise builds your body and makes you stronger and less susceptible to illness and injury over the long run. For optimal benefits, you should aim for a mixture of cardiovascular and strength building activities. Generally healthy adults should strive for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise spread out throughout the week, which equates to 30 minutes five days a week. There are many workouts that you can do at home or in your neighborhood with minimal equipment, such as running, walking, plyometrics and kickboxing. Experiment with some different types of workouts to see which ones you like best.
Eat a healthy diet.
Your gut and your immune system are very closely linked, and eating a healthy diet is an important component of maintaining a strong immune system. In general, you should eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Try to eat foods rich in fats and sugars only in moderation. Indulging occasionally is fine, but these foods shouldn’t make up the majority of your diet. Avoid any foods that you’re sensitive to, as they can result in inflammation and weaken your body (not to mention cause problems like stomach cramps and acid reflux).
Watch your stress levels.
Stress, especially chronic stress, wears down our bodies and makes us more susceptible to illness. If you’ve noticed yourself feeling tired or getting sick a lot for “no reason,” stress could be the culprit. Some of the other tips listed in this article, including regular exercise, are natural stress relievers. Many people also find yoga, meditation and mindfulness helpful in managing stress. You can also try deep breathing exercises, practicing aromatherapy (such as lighting a candle), spending time with your pet, listening to soothing music, and reducing your caffeine intake. Some Human Touch massage chairs also include a Sound Soothe feature, which allows you to get a full-body massage while relaxing to one of eight built-in nature tracks.
Practice good hygiene.
Good hygiene is incredibly important for protecting yourself from germs. You should wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. Don’t forget to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. If hand washing isn’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. There are many key times to wash your hands, including before and after eating or preparing food; before touching your eyes, nose or mouth; after using the bathroom; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; and after touching garbage. See the CDC’s website for full guidelines on how and when to wash your hands.
Don’t forget your mental health.
Lots of advice for boosting your immune system focuses on your physical health, but it’s important not to neglect your mental health as well. How you feel mentally is very closely linked to how you feel physically, and being stressed, depressed or anxious often manifests in headaches, upset stomachs, insomnia and other physical complaints. Exercising will help improve your mental health, as will getting outside in nature, connecting with friends and pursuing new hobbies. If you struggle with conditions such as depression and anxiety, finding a therapist can be a big help, and some people also find medications useful as well.
While many people want to take a vitamin and be done with it, cultivating a healthy immune system is more of a lifestyle—but it’s so worth it. Follow these seven steps to improve your immune system and better your health.
Written by: Dr. Hoon C Kim, Acupuncturist and Human Touch Wellness Council Member
Image by: Henri Pham
No matter how much I emphasize the importance of breathing, it won’t be enough. Breathing is the base of our bodily engine system and enables us to live. Therefore, most people think they know how to breathe and it is then easily neglected, but here I want you to know of the right way of breathing, and the benefit of it.
In Chinese, the air is called kong qi – which is a spatial energy or energy from the space. Ancient Chinese must have known the importance of breathing; breathing is absorbing the vital energy from the universe.
There are plenty of books and articles of lower chakra, or Dan Tian breathing in Indian yogic practice and qigong; both put an enormous emphasis on abdominal breathing, or deep breathing.
Look at a baby or your dogs. How do they breathe? They breathe deep and comfortable with stomach region, and it seems so natural and easy.
Then why do most people forget this breathing, which we once all did?
As we grow old with stresses - anger, frustration, fear or anxiety- we became a shallow chest breather because of fight-or-flight response, which depends on chest breathing for quick, short bursts of oxygen. Eventually the body gets used to this shallow breathing.
What is this stress?
This type of stress is an animal instinct of fight or flight response, and acts as a self-defense system.
Under this type of stress, your body will need more energy so that heart beats will become faster and your breathing also will become faster and shorter to supply more blood to the muscles of limbs, and not the brain and digestive system. Therefore this stress can cause you to have headaches, stomachaches, muscle pain, sleep disorders, fatigue and so on.
So now imagine you have a body that perceives itself to be in stress all the time… your body will need that short breathing and sometime later your body will keep that breathing pattern, and this activates the body’s stress response system unnecessarily, emitting stress-related hormones.
How to evaluate your stress level:
1. Your head feels heavy and cloudy, and you get tired frequently
2. You get dizzy frequently
3. You have stiffness and pain in the neck
4. Your tongue has more white coating on it than usual
5. You have indigestion such as bloating, gas, belching and so on
6. Shoulders feel heavy, and you have tension with upper back and knee pain
7. When you get up in the morning, you still feel tired and heavy so your day starts sluggish
8. It is hard to focus on the work
9. It is hard to fall asleep
10. You have heart palpitations and cold extremities
11. You tend to avoid social meetings and a crowd of people
Serious: 7+ (Necessitates a change in your lifestyle)
How to remove stress by changing your breathing pattern:
1. First take two-three deep breaths, exhaling fully through the mouth. Then slowly breathe in while expanding your lower abdomen to the count of 4. Then slowly breathe out while contracting your lower abdomen to the count of 4. Focus on breathing rhythmically and try not to move your chest.
2. Inhale through your nose to a count of 4 and exhale either through your mouth or the nose to a count of 4 and then pause for a count of 2.
As you become more comfortable with this breathing, you can increase the length of time of inhalation, exhalation and the pauses between them.
Practice this breathing for 10-15 minutes twice a day in the morning after you wake up, and in the evening before you go to bed and also at any time during the day (except immediately after meals). Though simple, if practiced regularly, this exercise can greatly benefit the health of your mind and body.
Bernadette Johnson, Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at Greenwich hospital, also offers these four easy steps to break the stress cycle:
1. Stop what you’re doing.
2. Breathe using your stomach (abdominal breathing) for a few deep breaths, allowing your gut to expand with air. Do not breathe using the chest, which most of us do normally. Count 1 to 4 while inhaling, then count down from 4 to 1. You should inhale through the nose and exhale from the mouth, but you can do whatever is comfortable.
3. Think about the cause of your stress, deliberating its importance in the scheme of things. For example, a computer crashes and you get angry. Clearly, seething won’t change or resolve the situation.
4. Rectify the problem with a viable solution.
By Tiffany Carboni, Houzz
Photo (above) BAAN Design, original photo on Houzz
Have you ever sipped cocktails with friends in a bar lounge and thought, "This would be a sweet setup in my own kitchen"? Your pipe dream can be a reality (minus the crowds of rowdy strangers) with the help of these inspiring looks.
BAAN Design, original photo on Houzz
Gather 'round the fireplace. This modern-meets-retro space has the ultimate people-gathering tools: a fireplace and loads of comfortable seating.
The predominantly white space, designed by Baan Design, features shots of vivid color with midcentury modern–inspired armless sofas, dining chairs and a thick-pile gray rug that place guests near the 1960s fireplace.
ACR Villa Skovly, original photo on Houzz
Rock on. The rock wall of this basement kitchen in Oslo, Norway, has a lair-like tone. While the kitchen's work side is all white, the lounging side has an inviting dark gray sectional and a rug that begs bare feet to nestle into it.
Mango Design Co, original photo on Houzz
Choose a cohesive color palette. Charcoal painted kitchen cabinets create a furniture-like effect that complements the neutral pieces in this 6- by 15-foot space. The entire room is painted in Benjamin Moore's Cloud White. The media credenza and dining table, both from Design House, share the same blonde wood that helps to highlight the room's surrounding blue accents, while the Calligaris L'eau chairs don't try to compete with any of it.
Richard Taylor Architects, original photo on Houzz
Blur the lines between kitchen and living area. This French country kitchen has a warm, library-like atmosphere that disguises its utilitarian purpose. The designer seamlessly carried over the kitchen's dark green details and elegant lighting fixtures to the hearth's lounging side — or maybe it's vice versa. It's hard to tell where one space ends and the next begins.
Isler Homes, original photo on Houzz
Add a twist to the banquette. This custom banquette was made to look more like a sofa. Low cabinets flank both sides for convenient table space. The lamp casts a warm glow onto the rich flooring, which is finished with a blend of Duraseal's Antique Brown and Coffee Brown. It's enough to make you wonder how the kitchen made its way into this ubercomfy space.
Warning: Do not add a TV to a setup like this, as you might find yourself asleep in the kitchen after hours.
Karen Ellentuck ASID, original photo on Houzz
Glam up the banquette with tufted details. Turn an everyday banquette bench into one that deserves VIP status. This bench, covered in high-quality vinyl from Architex's Authentec collection, is further enhanced with a tufted back. The elegance of the dark fabric, custom table and sleek chairs is punctuated by the walls, painted in Benjamin Moore's Gloucester Sage.
If you're inspired by this look, also check out vinyl selections from Designtex and Brentano Fabrics.
Technologically-advanced devices can be hard to figure out if tech isn’t your thing. And, unfortunately, that fear of being overwhelmed by technology can steer you away from using tools that would make your life infinitely better. Some people see anything with an LCD remote and think, “Not for me. I remember last year’s ‘Surround Sound Incident’ all too well…”
Rather than having tech-anxiety, it’s important to understand that there are two types of device users: Tech-Intuitive and Research-Savvy.
Tech-Intuitive Users tend to integrate ever-evolving technology into their daily lives. They can easily navigate and operate most devices, because they’re engaged with the process of tech evolution. It should come as no surprise that these types of users can use any Human Touch massage chair with ease. They easily navigate through auto-massage programs, like “Energize” or “Relax,” or create their own massage program and save it for future use. More likely than not, they find it enjoyable to explore the different capabilities of each massage chair and may even try a different massage each time they sit in one.
Research-Savvy Users are folks who generally read through owner’s manuals or quick guides to navigate technology. As Gretchen Rubin, New York Times #1 best-selling author of The Happiness Project, says about instruction manuals, “Why should I expect to operate something without learning anything about it?”
Some people seem to think that reading the directions is discrediting, but we all learn how to do things differently. Human Touch user manuals are easy to understand, come in multiple languages, and get you from the Power Button to a Zero-Gravity Massage in a few easy steps.
In order to demonstrate a new user experience, we had a tester try out a few different massage chairs using their owner’s manuals to help navigate the various functions. Here is what he said:
“This chair seemed pretty straight forward. I was easily able to recline back and get started in an auto-massage program that I liked, since there were minimal buttons to navigate through. I didn’t really feel the need to use the owner’s manual, but it was nice that I could flip through the massage benefits it listed while I relaxed in the chair.”
“The Quick Start options were easy to navigate through on the remote, and once I was more confident with the other options, I moved into Auto Immersion section on the remote control. These options ended up being pretty user friendly because they had descriptions of each different technique right there for me to read. I wasn’t sure how to adjust the calf width, but it showed an easy-to-understand diagram in the owner’s manual. I really liked that the owner’s manual also listed out intensity levels for the different Auto Immersion Programs, and descriptions of each of the Targeted Techniques. This made it easy to figure out which massage selection was best for me.”
“At first, I was a little overwhelmed by the remote control, since it has a lot of buttons and even has buttons on the side of it. However, this ended up being a really user-friendly remote due to the BodyMap PRO feature. It had a diagram of the human body, and I simply pressed a button wherever I wanted to feel relief. Everything else was really self-explanatory and I was able to select the massage intensity, recline position, and leg extension just by pressing one or two buttons. I actually enjoyed reading the manual because it talked about massage benefits, and it also clearly explained every button on the remote.”
“I started this one in Demo mode just to get the feel of it, and really loved how it cradles you like a rocking chair while you’re getting massaged. The remote was really simple to navigate, and I tried a few different auto-massage programs until I found one that I liked the best. The great thing about all of these chairs is that I can try out one style of massage and if I don’t like it, I can switch to something else right then and there. Once my massage was finished, the chair put itself right back into a regular seated position and turned itself off. It was great.”
We’re all at different expertise levels when it comes to technology, but there’s no reason to be intimidated by it. The great thing about Human Touch massage chairs is that you can navigate technology through the way it makes you feel, and try out the different settings to fit your own unique needs. If you still struggle to understand something, you can always call the Customer Experience department to answer your questions and get you on the right track.
So, whether you’re Tech-Intuitive or Research Savvy, it’s easy to Feel Your Best. For more information on our Human Touch massage chairs, call our Customer Experience team at (800) 355-2762, or go to http://www.humantouch.com/.
One of the questions that I get asked pretty constantly is how I am able to keep surfing most everyday at my semi mature station in life. In other words, “How does a geezer like you stay out there all the time?” I should preface this to say that it is normally other geezers who are asking this question. When you are young you don’t even think about it, you just do it and there are little or no physical consequences. Geeze, I remember being able to surf all day, like 10 hours, and then woof down a half gallon of ice cream before heading to the dance. Hahaha, ok I just realized that sounded just like the “and I walked ten miles through the snow to get to school and didn’t even have a pair of shoes to wear,” kinda thing. But, you get the idea. When you are 20 your body just keeps going and you don’t think about it. When you get a bit older you start to get sore, your body aches, you get tired and you start feeling like it might be a good idea to “take a recovery break today.” I see guys missing really good days because they are sore and their body just hurts too much to give it another go. This is something I try to avoid as I hate missing good days. At my age you don’t want to miss anything, I mean ya just never know.
So, here is my little guide on how to keep an older surfing body in tune so that you can surf as much as possible without pain. First off, don’t let yourself get fat like I am because it makes it that much harder on yourself. I must like it to be hard because I stay fat, but I really do not recommend it. One key to staying in the water is to pace yourself time wise in the water within what you feel good with. Sometimes it is not so much how long you surf but more how hard you surf while you are out there. If you go out and sit there for 2 hours and only ride a few waves, socializing and trying to pick up babes, it’s not as much of a workout as if you surf hard for one hour, riding a ton of waves and going for it. Know your threshold as far as endurance. It is when you push past it that your body really gets angry and you pay the price afterwards. When you start getting noodle armed it’s time to go in.
Secondly, it is super important to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink some water before you surf and have some on hand after you get out. Even though you are in the water your body needs fluids. This is especially true when surfing in the tropics or warm climates. Coffee, cokes, beer and all that stuff does not hydrate you, just the opposite. Drink a lot of water or some sort of hydrating drink like Gatorade etc. This is very important to muscle recovery. If you get a lot of cramps it never hurts to take a pinch of salt here and there too.
I am a firm believer in massage and I think the older you get the more important it is to help your body come back from strenuous activity, like surfing. It also helps get your body ready for it, much like stretching and yoga. A massage a day can work wonders on keeping you surfing. Of course for most people getting a massage everyday is impossible, either for the expense or just the time it takes out of your day or night. Years ago I got one of those great massage chairs that you sometimes see in stores and like to sit in and wish you had one at home. It is a HUMAN TOUCH massage chair that is made by a company called; you guessed it, Human Touch, out of Long Beach. It feels like a real person and it is fabulous. A few minutes in the morning just before I paddle out to loosen me up a bit, a short sesson after surfing and 15 or 20 minutes in the evening is a perfect massage chair daily regime. I can’t even come close to telling you how great this is for my old geezer body and I strongly recommend one.
If you want to stay in the water as much as possible and you are middle aged or older you might want to consider my little suggestions here. If you feel good you keep the stoke. And if you have the stoke then you paddle out. Simple deal.
By: Dr. James Rouse
What if I told you that you could stop negative thoughts in their tracks? Or that the solution to finding your happiest self, and becoming a more loving partner and engaging friend, is up to you??
We sometimes forget that our thoughts are actually up to us, and that we have the power to minimize negative thinking. Everybody has pessimistic thoughts sometimes, but it’s important to know that those thoughts are totally normal.
The answer to negative thinking is not to pretend that we don’t feel upset or down from time to time. The answer is to own those negative thoughts by acknowledging them, accepting them as a part of life, and then CHOOSING to turn our attention to a place of optimism.
Since it can be difficult to be optimistic when life gets tough, it’s important to actively look for things that you can be grateful for. You can see it as enduring a gloomy day and thinking “today is rainy, but the past week has been beautiful!” You might even start to appreciate the rain as it helps you to recognize your fortune during the sunny days.
Gratitude has been shown to benefit our lives in a variety of ways, including overall optimism, more energy, improved sleep, an overall feeling of peace, and a stronger immune system. It allows us to shake our minds free of cluttered and gloomy thinking, and create space for clarity, peace, and a solid foundation from which to support ourselves and our loved ones.
Some ways to turn your focus to a place of gratitude include:
Send a Thank You Note
This is truly a Win-Win, since it helps us to feel connected each other and lifts up both people’s spirits. Thank You Notes can be done a variety of ways, including through email, but a hand written and “snail mailed” version really goes the extra mile to demonstrate the gravity of the impact the other person’s actions had on you.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journals are a place to keep track of the blessings in our lives. They encourage us to notice all of the little things that bring us joy, rather than only noticing the big/obvious things that make us happy.
These written accounts also allow us to peek back on our journaling history in order to reflect on all of the gifts we’ve been given, so that we can feel hopeful during challenging times. Gratitude Journals can be an actual diary, recorded memos on your phone, or created using one of the dozens of Gratitude Journal apps available.
Give a Gift of Gratitude
Offering our time to others allows us to show people that we are grateful for their friendship. Not only does this improve the other person’s life, but knowing that we have the capacity to brighten someone else’s day reminds us that we have the power to turn our own attitudes toward happiness. Ideas for sharing your time might include baking cookies for a friend, helping a neighbor to mow their lawn, or showing a colleague how to use the latest version of your company’s content management system.
Seek Out Beauty in the World
One way to zero in on happiness is to stop running our lives on Auto-Pilot, and observe the simple beauty that might go unnoticed but exist right in front of us. Watching a bird glide gracefully through the sky, or noticing the shape of your city’s skyline, are just a few of the things that can help us to disconnect from monotonous daily tasks and enjoy our lives with newfound gratitude and appreciation.
Meditation can sometimes be misunderstood by people who feel that it seems inactive or boring. Other people are so used to the daily buzz that they don’t think it’s possible for them to sit silently for a period of time. Others still feel like they’re just TOO busy to meditate, even for a few minutes.
However, there are a multitude of ways to meditate, with options that can fit just about any lifestyle. Here are a few forms of meditation for practitioners of any concentration level, schedule, and interest in meditative spirituality.
This is the simple practice of directing well-wishes toward other people. To practice, sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and imagine what you want for your life. Start by directing phrases at yourself, such as “I wish to feel more peace.” After this, you extend well-wishes toward other people, and determine what positive hopes you have for them. These visualizations go beyond just friends or even people you feel neutral about, and reach out to people whom you don’t generally care for, in order to spread happiness to your surrounding world. This type of meditation has been shown to increase positivity, empathy, and kindness.
Best for: Those struggling with low self-esteem; those looking to become more empathetic to people around them.
There are several forms of moving meditation that can help people who like to multitask, or those who struggle sit still. Exercises such as Yoga or Tai Chi encourage people to move their bodies at a deliberate pace, all while focusing their attention inward in order to really connect their minds and bodies as one. Even walking can be a means of meditation if you simply focus your attention on your mind and body. During any form of moving meditation, it’s important to keep the body in continual motion, in order to maintain the mind-body connection.
Best for: Busy people; athletes.
This style of meditation is centered on the idea that we are made of seven different “energy centers,” each of which is located in a different part of the body. These energy centers, or chakras, are associated with a different color, sound and purpose. Mediation involving one’s chakras often uses sound, touch, and visualization to hone in on a specific area of the body, and heal any issues or heavy emotions that dwell there. Many people who practice yoga believe in chakra meditation, and use it as a supplement to their yoga practice.
Best for: Spiritual individuals; yoga practitioners.
Also called “Insight Meditation,” Vipassana Insight Meditation is the practice of paying close attention to sensation. It emphasizes awareness of breath, and teaches you to focus your attention on the thoughts that arise while you breathe in and out through the nose. No matter your thoughts, it asks you to allow them to flow through you without taking them too seriously, and then gently return your awareness back to your breath. This is the most common type of meditation that is offered at silent meditation retreats.
Best for: Beginners; those looking to attend a silent retreat.
Open Monitoring Meditation
Experienced practitioners see this as an actual purpose to meditation, and not a form of meditation itself. Open Monitoring Meditation encourages turning their focus on their awareness itself, rather than focus on one’s breath or their thoughts. One way to accomplish this might be to sit or lay down, and simply listen to the goings-on in the world around you. You might notice the weight of your body as it distributes onto your chair or the ground, or you can listen to the sounds outside of your window that were only background noise until now. Your state of awareness is heightened as you really start to pay attention to each passing car, gust of wind, or cool breeze. This type of meditation really enhances your connection to the world around you, and helps to calm your mind as you own racing thoughts become more still.
Best for: Busy thinkers; those who struggle to sit still.