Proven strategies to boost immunity in the workplace

Now is the ideal time to address well-being at both an individual and organizational level. Focus on building a strong immune system, encourage healthy lifestyles, reassure employees that you’re educating every person at every level to maintain a healthy and safe workplace.

We encourage you to share these tips with your leaders and teams today.

How to boost your immunity and resilience in the workplace.

For many Hong Kongers, life is returning to normal. A new kind of normal. Back in the office, we’re all advised to remain cautious. The Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to rage across other parts of the world, has driven home the importance of protecting and prioritising immunity.

Your immune system – the most powerful line of defence against Covid-19 and all other viruses – is impacted by so much more than clean hands and clean diets. Perhaps you too have felt the stress, sadness, or sense of isolation that others have felt during these challenging times. It’s no secret that you need to care for your physical health at this time, but did you know your emotional and mental health can hinder immunity and resilience too?

And that’s not all. Decades of research and IMI’s thirty years’ clinical experience confirm there are seven key factors influencing your immunity superpowers. 

Take a look at these different factors and see what they mean for you. Even the smallest steps to improve your health and wellbeing can make a big difference to your immune system, now and always.

The seven factors affecting your immunity.

Mind

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious and uncertain, you’re not alone. Over the past few months, many of our clients report feeling mentally exhausted.

Your immune system and mental health are connected, so it’s important to explore ways to give your mind a break from the mayhem.

Tips:

  • Start the day the right way. When you wake in the morning, avoid reaching for your phone to read the news or skim through your social media feeds. Instead, take the time to connect to yourself and a new day – be it through journaling, prayer, a meditation practice, or stepping out into nature. If you tend to ruminate, schedule “worry time” at a set time of your day or week. This can gently train your mind and give a constructive time for worries.
  • Create boundaries. Juggling work and home commitments has always been a challenge in Hong Kong. But, in these current times, it’s harder than ever to establish healthy boundaries. Schedule times during the day to work and when you switch off, really switch off. Spend time with family, and schedule time to do something you enjoy like watching a movie, reading a book, or going for a walk.
  • End the day the right way too. Deep sleep is important for T-cells, which play a critical role in fighting virus infected cells like the flu. Give yourself time to unwind by turning off your phone and avoiding screen time at least an hour before bed.  

Emotions

We’ve all been on our own rollercoaster ride of emotions. Elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol can inhibit immune function. It’s imperative to acknowledge, accept and work with your emotions – whatever they are – to avoid becoming trapped by them.

Tips:

  • Acknowledge your emotions. Anger. Sadness. Love. It’s important to remember it’s natural to feel emotions. Awareness of your emotions – even those you don’t want or that you’ve been conditioned to ignore, can offer you important insights, and, help them to pass.
  • Talk more. Quality connections are crucial for positive health. Reach out to a friend or colleague to talk or, for confidential support, an executive coach or counsellor can be a great resource.
  • Calm the body to calm the mind. A quality magnesium (glycinate) supplement, adaptogenic herbs like ashwaganda and nervine herbs like lemon balm (also an anti-viral) can help ease anxiety and replenish your nervous system.

Energy

Your vital energy is the subtle energy force that flows through and around your body at all times, promoting health and harmony. When it is in balance, you’re more likely to feel calm, confident, and centred. It becomes easier to fight off sicknesses. Physical and emotional blockages like lack of proper rest and stress can deplete your vital energy or cause it to become stagnant, impacting your immune system.

Tips

  • Get some skilled bodywork. Osteopathy and acupuncture can help to release the stiffness and physical stresses caused by lots of sitting and screen time, and limited movement in recent months. This can safely support your return to exercise and sport.
  • Work on your subtle energy. Practices such as yoga and pilates are designed to work on your subtle energy and offer stress relief. A regular practice can help to offer some stability in uncertain times.
  • Mindfulness or meditation. Give your body and mind a time-out with a calming and restorative mindfulness or meditation practice. Let your team know about our free weekly online mindfulness practice sessions, or ask about our Mindfulness in the Workplace program.

Environment

Toxins in your cosmetics and in cleaning products can impair your immunity, making it that much harder for it to do its job. Toxins in your food can also make you more susceptible to sicknesses.

Tips:

  • Eat clean. Eat organic produce as much and as often as possible. If this isn’t doable, use a vegetable wash to remove pesticides. Avoid the Dirty Dozen, the most contaminated fruits and vegetables according to the Environmental Working Group (EMW).
  • Wipe away the germs .  Wipe down the things you touch frequently, like your mobile phone and surfaces at home and work with natural cleaning products such as Thieves Household Cleaner.

Spirit

When we connect to something bigger than ourselves – be it music, art, nature, religion, voluntary work, and more – we nourish our spirit and experience a greater sense of purpose. But when we’re focussed on getting through each day, our spirit may not receive the attention it needs. This can cause stress, sadness and a sense of being incomplete – all of which can take a toll on immunity.

  • Breathe to feel better. Take a pause and focus on deep breathing. Turn towards your breath, get to know it and work with it to calm your mind and nervous system. You can learn more about deep breathing.
  • Be nurtured by nature. Step outside for your lunch break even for a short mindful break.
  • Look to leaders. Look toward leaders, influencers and teachers that you find uplifting and inspiring. Connect with and learn from them as they share wisdom to see you through challenging times.

Community

When we feel connected to our colleagues, we feel better and we perform better. Nourishing relationships are proven to lower stress levels and improve immunity.

Tips:

  • Rely on reliable sources. Be discerning of the information you read online to avoid additional and unnecessary fear and panic. Many online spaces continue to perpetuate incorrect and alarmist information
  • Be mindful of people that bring you down. Be aware of colleagues that trigger anxiety and, where possible, try to minimise unhealthy and unhelpful interactions.
  • Talk to your colleagues. With even more screen time than usual, the temptation to communicate through email is even higher. Sometimes it’s good to pick up the phone and talk.

Body

Comfort-food diets, sedentary lifestyles, greater screen usage and less sleep (in part due to stress) in recent months may have lowered your immune defences. By caring for your body, you’re caring for your immunity.

Tips:

  • Eat yourself well. Ensure your body is well-fed with nutrient rich food. Highly processed foods and those high in sugar are proven to compromise your immunity. Instead, go for immune-boosting foods.
  • Supplement for extra support. For greater immunity support, take a potent vitamin C and D supplement and a good probiotic. These four supplements form the foundation of a powerful immunity support kit.
  • Stay hydrated. Hydrating is as important to flush out toxins that build up in the body and to support a healthy immune system. Have a bottle of water at your desk and take sips often.
  • Keep moving. Light exercise is another powerful stress reliever and immunity booster, helping the body sweat out any toxins. At work, try a standing desk or get up and move around as often as you can.
  • Sleep well. Ensure your bedtime is sleep-friendly. Ditch the digitals at least 2 hours before bed, and keep your room dark and at a cool temperature.

We hope you find these proven tips a reliable source of support at this time.

For more wellness strategies proven to boost immunity and resilience in the workplace, visit www.imi.com.hk/corporate-wellness. IMI Corporate’s team of naturopathic doctors, osteopaths, mental health practitioners, mindfulness experts and executive coaches offer a range of presentations and workshops to support wellness at work, now and always.

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