• Erin R. Liggett

Defending Ourselves Against COVID-19

So many developing stories about the coronavirus these days… we are seeing how quickly it is making its way around the globe given how difficult it is to contain, forcing leaders to make some very challenging decisions to try to keep communities as safe as possible. We’ve been hearing how around 80% of those who contract the novel virus will experience mild symptoms. However, the remainder of folks, particularly the elderly or already immune-compromised are at greater risk of more severe symptoms, hospitalization, and possibly death. Health experts say there is no known cure for Covid-19 which is particularly concerning.

Schools are closing, employees are being told to work from home, large gatherings and sporting events are cancelled and even restaurants and bars in some areas have been ordered to close until further notice. Meanwhile, we’re being advised to socially distance ourselves from others. As I write this, grocery store shelves are being stripped of their food and essential items and workers are having difficulty replenishing the supplies.

While times like these undoubtedly instill panic in many of us and lead to emotional eating, my first thought is that all food is not created equal and now is not the time to overindulge on sugary, greasy, overly-processed food or alcoholic beverages as tempting as it may be. Additionally, practicing relaxation during these stressful times is key.

While I cannot guarantee that any of the following tips will combat the virus or save anyone’s life, I do think it is worth integrating some holistic principles that consider mind, body and spirit into your life during these extraordinary times. Here are my two cents…

Manage stress levels – yes, you may be feeling anxious not knowing what is going to happen, especially if you are glued to your TV watching the news stories surrounding this frightening infection. If the news is feeding into your stress, either create a buddy system where you can receive pertinent updates from a trusted friend or limit your exposure. Instead of watching all throughout the day, choose a specific time to tune in. Perhaps only watching mid-day or at a time you are able to take a walk or participate in another calming activity immediately after to clear your head.

Remember these words written by Charles Swindoll in his famous poem, “Attitude.”

We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

Try to incorporate meditation into your day. Whether it is just 10 minutes in the morning or evening, taking time to quiet the chatter without distractions can be very helpful on many levels. There are many apps and podcasts out there to help you get started.

Promote a healthy immune system. Don’t forget the fresh fruits and veggies! If you are having trouble finding enough stock at your local grocer, don’t forget about your local farmers, farm stores, and co-ops! Not only is there less worry about how far this food had to travel to reach your plate (less touch points), it is often much fresher than store-bought and therefore even more nutritious and helps support your local economy.

Choose a variety of leafy greens like leaf lettuces, collards, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, bok choy, etc. Have additional items like celery, garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric (fresh or ground), carrots and potatoes on hand if you want to make a fresh, warming vegetable soup. You can throw in quinoa for greater protein or leftover chicken to make it a little heartier. If you do make homemade soup, be sure to drink the highly nutritional broth!

Most people associate vitamin C with boosting their immune systems and naturally, citrus fruits like oranges come to mind, but many of the leafy greens I mentioned are excellent sources of it as well. Additionally, you can enjoy bell peppers sautéed in a stir fry, steam some broccoli or cauliflower and make enough to throw the cold leftovers on your salad the next day or incorporate some fresh or frozen strawberries or raspberries into a smoothie to increase your vitamin C intake.

I like to keep fresh elderberry syrup on hand during the winter months when there is greater risk of contracting the flu. Considered an immune stimulator, adults typically take it as soon as symptoms appear and for some it can reduce symptoms and duration of illness (Elderberry [Monograph], 2020). While there is no guarantee it will defend against this novel coronavirus, I personally think it is worth trying , but be sure to talk with your doctor or other healthcare professional before trying anything new, especially if you are taking immunosuppressants. While you can find the syrup over the counter at most health food stores or online, I prefer to make mine by boiling the dried elderberries which are a fraction of the cost. There are many recipe variations throughout the internet. I boiled mine with fresh ginger and ground cinnamon and then added fresh-squeezed lemon juice and raw honey after cooking.

Do your best to avoid cabin fever by getting out and walking, running, throwing a ball around or playing tennis… you can also find numerous free exercise programs online that suit all different preferences.

Finally, practice gratitude. It is easy to get bogged down and think about all the things that have gone wrong in our lives as of recent, but we should remember there are always things to be thankful for. While some people live alone, there is always the telephone, video chat or social media to keep us connected. Families can use this time to enjoy one another, play games, get things done around the house they’ve been putting off, etc.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Be sure to share any you have too. You never know who it might help. Be well.

*This blog is for entertainment and education purposes only. The content included is my opinion and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease.


Therapeutic Research Center. (2020). Elderberry.[Monograph]. Somerville. Retrieved from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/patienthandout.aspx?productid=434&lang=en

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