By Emily Fletcher
How many times a year do you get sick?
I used to think it was normal to get sick three to four times a year. Every season change I would find myself commiserating with my friends about the nasty new bug that was going around. I even had to get my tonsils out as an adult because of severe sore throats during my time singing on Broadway.
That all changed the day I learned meditation. I have been practicing for 10 years now and haven’t been sick in the last eight of those.
I personally believe nature didn’t intend for us to feel sick, tired, and stressed; in fact, our bodies are equipped with a powerful internal pharmacy designed to keep us from getting sick. However, stress can overwhelm our bodies and prevent immune function from running optimally. When the body is stressed, it is basically preparing for a predatory attack, so there isn’t much energy left to run maintenance functions.
By meditating twice a day every day, you decrease the stress in your body and therefore decrease your susceptibility to sickness. If you don’t already have a meditation practice, check out zivaONLINE to set yourself on a path to being cold- and flu- free for life. But there are some additional steps you can take to stay healthy throughout the year. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
1. Drink black pepper tea.
I learned this from my Ayurvedic doctor. When you’re feeling under the weather, or when it’s cold out and you want to stave off sickness, you can make this simple “tea”: Boil water, fill your favorite mug with your hot water, and do five or six grinds of fresh organic black pepper. Let all the pepper settle to the bottom, and drink it. The black pepper will induce a mild fever and help you sweat out the cold. Do this every two to three hours.
2. Use oregano oil.
Put a few drops of oregano oil in tea or water and drink it. Oregano oil is very strong (which is why you want to dilute it) but very effective at clearing out your nasal passages and soothing a sore throat. You can also put five drops in a shot of warm water.
3. Add an extra meditation session.
At Ziva, we recommend two 15-minute sessions a day—no more, no less. However, the rules change when you’re sick. If you feel a cold or other illness coming on, add in an extra session. Giving your body this additional rest will help dissolve stress and boost energy and immune functioning. And if you’re full-on sick, you can meditate as much as is comfortable.
4. Consume garlic.
You may already have a super-easy natural remedy sitting in your kitchen: garlic. Garlic has antiviral and antibacterial properties and can be used for a wide range of ailments. You can eat a clove or swallow it like a pill to find relief from cold symptoms or to ward off infection.
5. Meditate while traveling.
Air travel can easily cause or aggravate illness. The atmosphere on planes is incredibly dry, and changing time zones challenges your body’s ability to adapt (which causes jet lag). To combat these physical stressors, add in two extra meditations: one at takeoff and one at landing. Do this every time you have a flight, and you’ll notice a marked difference in the way your body reacts to air travel.
This article originally appeared on mindbodygreen.