by Michlyn Gazaway
owner Otium Studios | Holistic Health Consultant


When we hear words like social distancing, quarantine and self-isolation, it’s hard not to feel the negative associations — but now’s a good time to reframe how you think about them.

When you begin to see these behaviors as ways to help save lives (including your own) the changes we’ve all been asked to make feel a lot less arduous. Wearing a mask or scarf in public, washing your hands frequently, wiping down surfaces, not touching your face, putting on gloves — look at these new anti-viral routines as acts of love on behalf of your family, friends and neighbors — and for the thousands of doctors, nurses, EMTs and first responders who are fighting for our lives.


Though we are all living confined lives these days, exercise is a fantastic way to boost immunity and keep your body strong.  Sure, lots of movement helps you look and feel good, but it also decreases inflammation, improves the function of every organ in the body and even lifts your mood.

As the New York Times reported, a new study found that among a test group of sedentary people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, regular workouts helped lower levels of depression, hostility and other negative feelings, with mood benefits lingering for weeks even after they stopped working out.

  • Get outside and take a brisk walk or a bike ride.  We have noticed that our children are happier and feel less stressed after 20-30 minutes of outside time a day.
  • LIVESTREAM a yoga or group fitness class.  Feeling connected to others during this time is so important!  
  • Otium is offering LIVESTREAM classes 7 days a week.  Sign-up through our website and connect with one of our incredible instructors. 


When we think of vacation, we often dream about palm trees, ocean breezes and the wonderful feeling of calm that comes with lying in a lounge chair in the sun. While it might be a while before we’re able to zone out on the beach again, we can experience similar feelings of peace and relaxation plus decreased inflammation and increased immunity by using our mandated downtime to start cultivating a meditation practice.

To get started right away, email us for a link to one of our pre-recorded Meditation classes with our Zen Goddess, Mallory. Our LIVESTREAM Meditation Classes are an excellent way to help you get into the groove and start enjoying the mental, emotional and physical benefits of a regular meditation practice.  Guided Meditation is offered Tuesday at 7pm and Saturday at 9:15am.  Sign-up through our website today!


One more wonderful thing to do with your downtime? Sleep well! If you’re out of practice, now is a great time to retrain your body and upgrade your sleep habits. 

  • Turn off the news a few hours before bed in order to clear your head of stressful thoughts and imagery.
  • Turn in at roughly the same time every night — your body loves routine and consistency.
  • Get a daily dose of morning light — have your morning coffee outside to expose your eyes and face to sunlight, which will increase serotonin production, and help regulate the release of sleep-inducing melatonin in the evening.
  • Treat yourself to nightly pre-sleep, wind-down rituals: try a hot bath to relax your muscles and release tension; read an actual paper book of poetry or inspirational topic; try some gentle yoga.
  • Do a bit of gratitude-oriented journaling or, if you’re stressed, write down what’s on your mind; and don’t go to bed angry or ruminating on negative thoughts — it will only undermine the quality of your sleep.


At present, there is no known cure for COVID-19, but we are starting to piece together some of the risk factors that can increase the chances of a poor or fatal outcome.

So far, one of the key factors appears to be metabolic syndrome. And while getting weight issues under control and becoming metabolically healthy doesn’t happen overnight, now is a good time to start focusing on it. One of the simplest ways to do that is to rethink your diet:

  • Ramp up colorful, non-starchy veggies — put them in everything and find a way to add them to every meal.
  • Load up on prebiotic & probiotic foods — keep your immunity strong by nourishing your gut bacteria.
  • Dump the white stuff — as in sugar, potatoes, flour etc. as well as dairy, if it doesn’t agree with you.
  • Eliminate processed foods as much as possible in these trying times.
  • Cut way back on alcohol — a small glass or two of wine every other day is more than enough.
  • Eat your largest meal at lunch and go for a lighter, smaller dinner. 
  • Consider making a batch of Golden Broth and when your kids ask for a snack, throw them a mug of immune-boosting goodness. 


What’s great about herbs and spices is that virtually all of them have positive medicinal effects and add wonderful flavor to a meal — some aid digestion and nutrient absorption; others have antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer properties. Here are some of my favorite wellness wonders to add to your kitchen:

  • Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne contains capsaicin which helps boost the immune system and provides anti-cancer protection.
  • Cilantro and Parsley (fresh or dried): Both impart a lively, fresh taste as well as vitamins and minerals.
  • Cinnamon: A tasty way to help stabilize blood sugar.
  • Peppercorns: The piperine in black pepper can help prevent some cancers, and also contains vitamin C, vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenes and other anti-oxidants to combat free radicals.
  • Rosemary: Helps prevent allergies and nasal congestion.
  • Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.


Instead of lashing out in times of stress, stop, take a deep breath, get out of your head for a moment and connect with others.  Call a friend, discover Facetime, send a kind text or email to someone you have not talked to in a while – it can make such a powerful difference to someone’s day in these times.  Use social media in moderation, but keep the posts coming.  For me, logging on and seeing photos of your kids or what you made for dinner makes such a difference in my day and how I feel.  I have even discovered Tik Tok and have enjoyed plenty of good laugh out loud moments.  Support small business in your community now more than ever!  Skip the temptation to hop on Amazon and instead learn what small businesses in your community have shifted their brick and mortars to offer online sales.  Otium is currently offering 30% OFF and FREE SHIPPING on all online orders.


Use this time to pursue any of those subjects or skills you’ve been curious about but never had enough time for. Not only will you add to your knowledge base, but engaging with the unfamiliar can help keep your mind in good shape. Research shows that consistently high levels of curiosity correlate with mental well-being and life satisfaction.  We have been playing a lot of board games and talking about the significance of this time of our lives openly with our children.  They are curious and it is equally important to keep their stress levels low and their creativity high.  


I am a big believer in getting as many nutrients as possible from the foods we eat, but I also know that sometimes we fall short and may need extra support. Now is likely one of those times. While we don’t have a tried-and-true treatment for COVID-19 yet, there is promising research on a number of botanical and nutraceutical agents that can potentially improve the body’s ability to fight off and recover from the illness. They deliver anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits — curcumin, quercetin, zinc, N-Acetyl cysteine, vitamins A, C and D, elderberry and more.  I wrote a Blog Post for Modern Mom during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic that highlighted a lot of the same tools we are using today. 

Taken thoughtfully and as directed, these supplements can empower our bodies to help modulate a healthy response to the viral onslaught we are facing right now. To learn more about these supplement optionsandintegrative approaches to COVID-19, check out this excellent resource from the Institute of Functional Medicine.


While essential oils are known to offer a range of benefits to your health and well-being, it is also important to educate yourself on exactly how these things work before you decide to layer them into your daily routine.  John Hopkins Medicine has done a fantastic job summarizing the role of essential oils and which ones may be right for you.  You can read the full article here.  

Michlyn Gazaway
owner Otium Studios | Holistic Health Consultant