My front window gives onto the street, and every day I see people walking their dogs. Maybe a half dozen folk in all, giving their pups some exercise. But over the last week, since California went on “lock-down,” I’m utterly amazed by the number of people walking. With dogs, without dogs, with children, on their own, pushing strollers; it’s a wonder to behold, because along with the benefits of fresh air and exercise, these walkers are stimulating their immune systems.

And what, along with following the CDC and WHO guidelines, does the most to protect you from COVID-19? Strengthening your immune system, which--in a nutshell--is your body’s defense against disease. We already know that the coronavirus is deadliest among those with compromised or weakened immune systems. Maintaining/developing a strong immune system can go a long way toward our staying healthy.

That being said, you can only walk so much in one day. Gyms are closed, both my dance studios are closed, soccer games and other group sports are canceled. Working out at home to YouTube videos is great, but again, limited by how much “no pain no gain” one is willing to endure.

But here’s the good news: there are 2 things you can do right now in the privacy of your own home to significantly improve your immune system.

1. Institute The 5-minute Pity Party.

I don’t know about you, but my first response to my finding out my ballet and ballroom classes were shut down indefinitely was to call my BFF and whine. Loudly. For a good 15 minutes. Poor woman, I’m surprised we’re still BFFs. Oddly enough, when all my work canceled, I didn’t have a melt-down, because at that point I still had dance to help me keep my sanity. But once the dance classes went, that’s it, I lost it.

That’s when I knew I needed to institute the 5-minute Pity Party. The 5-minute Pity Party is when you acknowledge that you need to rant, rave, whine and generally have a FIT over whatever aspect of your life has just been nuked by the coronavirus. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your job you can’t go to, your child who now relies on you 24-7 for all education, entertainment, maintenance, etc., or your gym/church/class you can’t go to, it’s time for a release of your anguish. Fine.

Set a timer for 5 minutes. Have at it! In the safety of your shower, bathroom, parked car, wherever you have maximum privacy, let it all out. Scream if need be at the injustice of it all, wail your despair at what seems to be a hopeless situation, and cry out your woe-is-me to your heart’s content. But when that timer dings, you’re done. Pick yourself up off the floor of misery and regroup. Move on to step 2.

2. Value What You Can Today For A Better Tomorrow.

There are actually 2 parts to this step. One is how you think/feel, the other is what you do.

A. Think/feel

Look around you. What can you appreciate about your life right here, right now? You still enjoy running water and electricity, you still have a roof over your head. Don’t let thoughts like “Yeah, but for how long?” intrude. You still have whatever health you enjoy. You still have your friends/family. You have endless access to resources via the internet. Dwell on whatever you can find to appreciate, to value and be grateful for, because that single action will have a dramatic, positive impact on your immune system.

You see, when we think/feel negativity, our immune systems suffer. And when our immune systems cease functioning optimally, our health can rapidly decline. So bolster your positive thinking as much as you can. Turn yourself into an optimist. Because optimists thrive—and so should you.

B. Do

Get creative! What’s the best possible use of the time you now have? Many are finding that with a little creativity they can continue some or all of their business using online platforms mostly from home. There are always projects we let go by the wayside for lack of time, how about picking up some of those now?

Make daily (realistic) lists of what you want to accomplish, and check off items as you get them done. You will feel productive, like you’re not just spinning your wheels, and with that, your immune system will benefit. In the long term, so will your life.

In every crisis, there is opportunity for new growth, new inspiration. Let’s keep our moments of dark despair as brief as possible and amp our times of appreciation as much as possible so that we come out of this challenging situation stronger and better than ever.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, consultant, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of over a dozen best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. She is the author of “Happy Healthy…Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right” (MindLab Publishing). You Matter. You Count. You Are Important. Visit,, #MeetTheAmazings, @drnoellenelson