For many of us, including me, this is an unprecedented time. With the uncertainties of daily life compounding us, it can be an overwhelmingly stressful time—and a little more difficult to find the space for self-love and self-care. But now more than ever we need to take care of ourselves.
I’ve been super focused on staying healthy and boosting my immune system as much as possible. I’m washing my hands (I’ve lost track exactly how many times a day!), exercising, and eating nutrient-rich foods. Keeping my immune system strong and staying healthy is the one thing that I have full control over right now. And you do too!
Out and About
Prior to the stay-at-home order, I was meeting with my trainer weekly. Since the stay-at-home orders, I’ve been tuning into virtual HIIT workouts with my trainer, Sara Gillespie (Co-Founder with Husband, Johnny Gillespie) at Empowered Yoga, but my real saving grace has been my daily walks. I’ve found so much comfort and peace in surrounding myself with nature. Like many business owners, I’m just as concerned with what the world will look like in the next few months. Taking time out of my day to get outside and move my body has allowed me to clear my head. It’s even allowed me to have more time to think through new business ideas and practices moving forward.
Being in nature doesn’t just feel good, it can actually make you healthier internally. According to Frontiers in Psychology, “spending 20-30 minutes sitting or walking in place in nature can significantly lower your cortisol levels.” Cortisol levels can be extremely sensitive, fluctuating based on our feelings and how we handle certain situations. The more stress and anxiety we have can lead to higher cortisol levels which can impact how your body fights infections or colds/viruses and even more inflammation in the body which can create a tired and overworked immune system. We definitely don’t need that right now! However, the Cleveland Clinic says that “in short spurts, cortisol can boost your immunity by limiting inflammation.”
So, that means the more you get outside, even for 30 minutes just to take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood, can help keep your stress down, your cortisol levels low, and healthy enough to fight this virus. I’m more focused than ever on how to keep my immune system strong and if that means carving out time every day to unwind, de-stress, move my body, and breathe fresh air, then I’m taking it!
After getting out and about, I’m always looking for ways to unwind and relax. Meditation has been a great outlet for me to reset and recharge my mind and body. Johnny at Empowered Yoga has been offering 15 minute meditation classes that focus on breathing—check them out at http://www.empoweredyoga.com/.
Put On Your Chef’s Hat
Whether you’re stuck inside with family or friends, cooking can be a great way to stay connected and healthy. I personally have a healthy obsession with food and nutrition! But my friends and family will tell you, I am no Gordon Ramsey. To be completely honest with you I DON’T COOK. I used to be embarrassed, but honestly after burning countless meals, I’ve gotten over it. Instead, I’m blessed with a whole team of other talented and fabulous chefs right at home—my husband Richie, my mother Jodi, and my brother Ben! But just because I am not a chef, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being in the kitchen. It’s the heart of our home, where everyone gathers to engage in discussions, while typically snacking on some fabulous cheese and crackers, or homemade guacamole…watching the magic happen. I am their biggest cheerleader, adding my two sense, often encouraging an extra clove of garlic or handful of basil. And questioning—aren’t we having a salad?
But due to the Coronavirus, the whole family is not together. It’s just Richie and me hanging in the kitchen. The big news right now: he just appointed me sous chef! Reluctantly, I donned my apron, spatula in hand, ready to conquer the crockpot. What I have discovered is that I’m an “OK” vegetable chopper. Who would have known? Because of the quarantine I was forced out of my comfort zone and realized if I wait until I’m not scared to try new things, then I’ll never get to try them at all. I’m happy to share, each night, I look forward to our new ritual of preparing dinner together. Unfortunately, I have not mastered washing the dishes!
The truth is eating right and boosting my immune system is top priority. I’ve been loading up on lots of leafy greens, fruits, and protein to stay as healthy as possible. I’m eating extra red bell peppers as they contain “twice as much vitamin c as citrus” (Healthline) and putting garlic in every dish, which “helps lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries” (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health). Breakfast is my favorite meal. I start my day off with avocado toast with a poached egg and a smoothie. Now let me tell you, these are no ordinary smoothies. They are packed with antioxidants, immune boosting foods, and are delicious! Here are some of my go-to favorite recipes:
Avocado Matcha Smoothie
- 1-2 cups Coconut Water (I store in the refrigerator to keep cold)
- 1/2 Avocado
- 1 cup Frozen Mango (easier than fresh and nice and cold)
- 1 small banana
- 1 t Matcha Power (Pure Synergy -Organic Ceremonial Green Tea)
- Raw Honey to taste
- Blend in Vitamix or Blender
- I typically don’t measure. I add more coconut water to thin smoothie.
- I try and ONLY use ORGANIC foods
Emily’s Everyday Smoothie
- 2 cups Almond Milk or Coconut Water
- 1 serving Plant Protein Powder
- Handful of Fresh Spinach
- 1 T-MCT Oil (100% Organic Coconut oil)
- 2 T Almond Butter
- 1 T heaping Cacao powder
- 1 t heaping Matcha power
- 2 cups Frozen Mixed Berries + Frozen Pineapple
- Raw Honey to taste
- Place all ingredients except frozen fruits in the Vitamix container. Switch machine to Start and slowly increase speed to 6. Add frozen fruit and switch machine to start and increase to speed 6. Add Raw Honey to taste and blend to combine.
Spring Green Smoothie
- 1 cup Green Grapes
- 2 orange, peeled and seeded
- 1 lemon peeled and seeded
- 1 medium cucumber cut into large chunk
- 1 green apple seeded
- 1 cups kale, spine removed or spinach
- 1 cups romaine lettuce
- 1 cup parsley leaves
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 2 cups ice cubes
- Place all ingredients in the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Switch machine to Start and slowly increase speed to 7. Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency.
Make a Connection
During this time, I’ve found that I need my family and friends more than ever. It seems that social distancing has taken its toll on many people—I know I’ve definitely been feeling more disconnected and isolated. But I’ve also realized the importance of making an effort to stay connected not just for myself but to help others who may be struggling more than me. And while I can’t physically be with people, I’ve made it a point each week to schedule Facetime and Zoom sessions to continue to feel close and connected.
Dr. Christopher Edwards, the lead psychologist at St. Lukes Magic Valley in Idaho, is even encouraging people to be on their phones more during this time. He says, “In my field of psychology we talk about too much screen time, too much getting on the phone, too much doing these things. And this is actually the first time we’re going to say, hey in mental health we’re going to give you permission to be on your screens. It’s a great time to keep in touch with people by using the electronics and the technology we have.”
This is so true! The more I talk to people, the better I’ve been feeling. And it has helped me tremendously to continue to connect with my patients, who just want to hear a friendly voice telling them it’s going to be okay. Social media can be great in that way as well. It’s allowed me to keep my patients informed and educated about a variety of skin tips and treatments—and to let them know that I’m still here whenever they need me.
Taking care of our minds is just as important as taking care of our bodies. We desperately need to keep ourselves in tip-top shape and getting proper sleep can play a huge impact on keeping us healthy. On a regular basis getting 8 hours seems near impossible, but now is the ideal opportunity to adjust your sleep habits. One of the major factors that can hinder our sleep progress is blue light. Blue wavelengths can come from staring at your screen for hours on end. According to Harvard researchers, “blue or artificial light can suppress melatonin twice as long as green light and shifted circadian rhythms twice as much.” After catching up with your family and friends, make sure to put your phone away a few hours before bed to keep a consistent sleep cycle. Feeling well-rested is the key to tackling more self-care strategies throughout the day.
Setting the scene for getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important. I make sure to wash my pillowcase a couple times a week to avoid bacteria buildup and keep my acne under control. Adding an essential oil routine each night can also create a calming effect on your mind and body to ensure a deeper sleep. Lavender has been proven to help with anxiety, relaxation, and insomnia. For years, I’ve been putting a few drops of lavender oil on my wrist before bed; taking a few deep breaths to unwind de-stress.
Let’s talk Vitamin C! I am such a fan of stocking up on as much Vitamin C as I possibly can to keep my immune system strong. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection.” I mean, who couldn’t use an extra boost right now? I take more Vitamin C than most people; by taking two doses every two hours until it’s flushed out of my system. This is a great way to clean out my system and even help with acne.
You should really see my morning vitamin lineup—it’s no joke! Each day, I take a multi, vitamins B and D, Echinacea, Zinc, Elderberry, and probiotics. Do your research and meet with a Naturopathic doctor to see what works for you and your body. If you are looking to implement vitamins to boost your immunity, my go to companies are The Synergy Company and Life Extension.
Skin Care is Not Cancelled
Just because you can’t get your favorite facial, doesn’t mean your skin care should be on hold. The added stressors during this time can have a huge impact on your skin. Now is actually a fantastic time to focus on a variety of treatments for your face, body, and hands to keep your skin look fresh for months to come.
I’m obsessed with the ZO Sulfur Masque. I’ve been using it three times a week at night to really deep clean my pores. It’s natural, clay-based formula feels great on my skin and helps to absorb excess oil that can cause breakouts. What’s really neat about this product is it can be used as a spot treatment so you can simply apply to one particular affected area or the whole face. Some of the great benefits are:
· Helps prevent clogged pores
· Absorbs surface oils and helps reduce oiliness
· Can be used to spot treatment on blemishes
With all the extra time on our hands, now is the perfect time to get beach body ready! I’ve been using the ZO Cellulite Control to minimize the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite can be such a stubborn thing to treat, so this cream is a great way to smooth the hips, thighs, and buttocks for a slimmer appearance. I’ve been applying this twice daily to get the best results. Benefits include:
- Smooths skin and helps diminish “orange peel” appearance
- Works around the clock to prevent new cellulite
- Provides a slimming and toning effect
- Restores hydration
Want to take it up a notch? Apply the ZO Body Emulsion after Cellulite Control! This smoothing treatment improves the overall appearance of the skin by exfoliating the dead skin cells to soften the skin texture. And what’s more, the Body Emulsion keeps working for 12 hours after you apply just once. It can also:
- Restore hydration and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier
- Reduce the appearance of brown spots and help even skin tone
Let’s not forget about our hands. With all the excessive hand washing we’ve been doing, our hands are begging for some relief and repair. Lather on the ZO Hydrating Crème for softer skin—no raw hands here! This has been my go-to favorite to temporarily relieve symptoms of severely dry skin and calm irritation. It’s exactly what all of our hands need right now!
- Supports skin barrier restoration and function
- Reduces itching
- Restores hydration and calms redness
For more hand relief, try adding on the ZO Enzymatic Peel prior to Hydrating Crème before bed! It’s an awesome at-home peel that gives a brighter, softer appearance to rough, uneven skin. This amazing peel can:
- Revive dull looking skin
- Improve the visible signs of sun damage
- Helps soothe and calm skin
EMAIL MY TEAM TO IMPLEMENT THESE ZO SKIN HEALTH PRODUCTS INTO YOUR ROUTINE! INFO@THEMONTCHANINCENTER.COM
Take this time to give your immune system the extra boost it needs to stay healthy. Now more than ever, it is so important to keep your mind, body, and spirit strong. Try to schedule yourself each day to focus on your health and well-being. Give yourself the space to recharge and repair. Listen to how you feel and give yourself the gift of getting outside, cooking a super healthy meal, or Facetiming with friends. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay healthy. And I can’t wait to see you all again in the office soon!