As we move on to the next phase in managing the Covid-19 crisis, I couldn't help noticing that almost all guidelines are reactionary and focused on getting the economy going again. There is very little solid information looking at building resilience, but rather building barriers to keep Covid-19 away from us. Understandably, when managing large populations this might be the best approach for governments but at the end of the day, if we do not build our immunity and resilience, we will be in this state for a very long time. I could not help hearing the Talking Heads song, "We're on the Road to Nowhere" in my own head when all the talk of lifting restrictions was on the radio last weekend, so I hit my Spotify, played the song a few times and went with my gut feeling with this article! I hope it serves to give everyone a roadmap to stay grounded while building resilience, just as Nature intends us to do!
Much love to all of you, Irene x
The excitement about the new set of guidelines in the ongoing Coronavirus crisis would have been comical if it were not so serious. We now have a “roadmap” for returning to some sense of normality over the course of the next few months. The overwhelming feeling is of frustration and disillusionment rather than that of optimism, as the Government advises on a terribly slow and gradual ease of restrictions. The proposed “roadmap” spans the whole Summer season, from early Summer, beginning in May to the end of August, which rolls into a period known as Late Summer. Curiously, the timeline for the Covid-19 exit is built on a road that has existed all along, the natural cycle of the Seasons. While it might not have been intentional by our leaders, the true spirit of Summer offers a parallel roadmap we can adapt to, one of health, ease, joy and creativity. The stability and reassurance we need are just a side-step away from us right now in the form of Summer – a time to strengthen our resolve, ignite the fire in our bellies and benefit from a timely emotional lift and nutritional boost to our hearts and minds.
Our urge to gather and congregate outside the boundaries of the homestead is greater during the Summer as the weather and longer daylight hours allow for these activities. It is unfortunate that Covid-19 and the government’s roadmap has put a stop to most of our galivanting and carousing this Summer. This is a great challenge for the whole of society and the consequences may be felt for a long time. However, the greatest Summer gains are felt by just being outside. Fortunately, observing Nature and stocking up on Vitamin D only needs you! Here are a few ideas of going with the flow while keeping your distance – rise early and catch the dawn chorus, gardening, walk barefoot on grass/sand, swim in the sea, practice yoga or tai chi in the back garden, try out mindful walking, simply sit outside and breathe! Think of activities that are more enjoyable and more suitable in the Summertime, now you are following the Parallel Roadmap!
Summer energy, or Fire energy feeds the heart, vascular system and the small intestine. Simply put, seasonal food is most nourishing to these organs and likewise, the organs are more receptive to a seasonal tuning during the Summer season. With the heart and mind so intricately connected through the expansive network of blood vessels and nerve cells, when you feed the heart you nourish the mind. Summer foods are a colourful, juicy, fresh array of fruits and vegetables. Eaten raw or with minimal cooking, Summer foods provide a rich supply of antioxidants and vitamin C supporting our blood and nerve networks, with extra resources to boost our immunity. Most interestingly, these foods often resemble the heart in shape and colour - tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, beetroot, hawthorn berries - rich red colours and plump round forms. Go boldly along the Parallel Roadmap adding a little fire to your dishes with hot spices such as cayenne, chilli, paprika and pepper which are vasodilators, increasing blood flow around the body and reducing blood pressure. Interestinly, chilli and cayenne are used in anti-viral remedies, as they increase the temperature in the oral and respiratory tracts, hampering the virus’ ability to invade and replicate in our cells. Another good reason to heat things up in the kitchen!
Mother Nature has a sense of humour – while she wants us to create some heat, she also asks that we cool down! Get the right balance by including as many cool green foods as the red and fiery ones. Cucumbers, melon, young leafy greens (baby kale, spinach, rocket, salad leaves) are hydrating to all cells, helping to flush toxins while cooling down inflammation and excess heat. Magnesium, found in the same young greens also help calm down agitated blood vessels and neurons, reducing both physical and emotional stress – another good reason to stay the course.
Our Summer feast is not complete without our oils. Drizzle a cold-pressed olive oil or avocado oil on salads and vegetables for heart-friendly monounsaturated fat. Omega 3 from wild, oily fish or cold-pressed flax seed oil is the lubrication needed to keep the show in the flow, preventing stickiness in the blood and maintaining the fluidity of cell membranes. Omega-3 plays an anti-inflammatory role in all areas of the body and most recently has shown promising results in dampening the cytokine storm responsible for the most serious of complications of Covid-19.
The emotion connected to the Summer, and therefore, the heart is JOY! We often refer to the word “heart” when describing love and joy – “heartfelt”, “bighearted”, “sweetheart”, “heart-warming” and the like. The opposite of Joy is sadness - “heartache”, “disheartened” and “heartbroken”. Even though modern medicine is reluctant to connect emotions with the physical biology of organs, the remnants of a once-held belief is carried through in our language. The Parallel Roadmap cultivates joy through self-care and community spirit. The only obstacle on this road is you, be kind.
Covid-19 has not stopped the arrival of Summer, nor will Autumn or Winter be thwarted. Our resilience depends on our ability to adapt and flow with the least amount of struggle or stress. The Parallel Roadmap is not an alternative route, but more like the ditches that dictate the road’s direction. The opportunity to follow the unwavering and dependable Mother Nature is to be grabbed by both hands, washed for at least 20 seconds in soapy water first, of course!
Written by Irene Ní Fhlannúra. This article appears in the West & Mid Kerry Live, issue 282, May 7th 2020
Ré Nua Natural Health Blog
We keep you up to date with news, events and happenings at the clinic.