Drink extra vitamin C tablets.

Eats lots of fruit and vegetables.

Exercise.

Stay connected with people, even virtually.

These are some popular suggestions I have been hearing from people on how to stay healthy during the lockdown but of course, all of them apply also to non-coronavirus days. Alas, these are the situations we are faced with.

About a dozen blogs are coming up in my newsfeed lately with advice on how to keep the immune system strong during a global health crisis and though I am certain these straightforward recommendations help, I wanted to get the opinion of an individual who knows a thing or two about natural remedies.

Searching through my contacts a familiar name came up, Miranda Tringis, herbalist and the owner of CyHerbia Botanical Park and Labyrinth in Cyprus. As its name suggests, CyHerbia is a park in a local village with a large woodland growing all kinds of Mediterranean herbs used to make teas, essential oils, creams and soaps amongst other things.

Creating goods from earthly produce is something Miranda has been doing since the park’s opening in 2012 and during CyHerbia’s events, people happily splurge on her nature-based items, knowing they come from a valid source.

On a quest to discover how to help keep my body strong, besides eating oranges and meditating, I called Miranda in hopes that she would share some insights. Her first tip is one we’ve all heard far too many times but for some reason, it’s yet to stick 100%. “Eat healthy,” she says. Wholesome foods especially. “Eat plenty of fresh local vegetables and fruit, nuts and legumes. Cut out sugar and simple carbs as they weaken the immune system.”

Drinking herbal teas 3 to 4 times a day was another tip Miranda shared. Herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as nettle, boost the immunity system. Make the tea as strong as possible the following way:

Put 2 tablespoons of nettle in a teapot or jar, add boiling water, close the lid and leave it to infuse for 1-2 hours in order to get all the nourishing goodness from the plant. Then strain and drink. You could also make it at bedtime and leave it to infuse overnight to make it extra powerful.

“Apart from nettle,” adds Miranda, “the top herbs for immunity are elderflower, echinacea, thyme, sage, liquorice, ginger, turmeric and oregano. These herbs also have antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties, which is exactly what we need at this time.”

It’s important to remember though when making tea from roots (ginger, liquorice), bark (cinnamon) or seeds (fennel, aniseed), that you must boil these in a pan with water for at least 10 minutes in order to get all the goodness out of them. Then leave to cool a bit, strain and drink.

Miranda’s latest DIY trick that’s caught the attention of the local press as well is about an item that’s in dire need right now around the world; hand sanitizer. With pharmacies and supermarkets running out of stock why not make your own with just 3 ingredients?

Rubbing alcohol 90 proof, aloe vera gel and essential oil is all you need.

“A hand sanitizer must consist of at least 70% alcohol for it to be effective in its antiseptic action,” says Miranda, “so I make mine using 75% alcohol, 22% aloe vera gel and 3% essential oil. In cups measurement that would be ¾ cup alcohol, ¼ cup aloe vera gel and half a teaspoon of essential oil.

The moisturizing properties of aloe vera gel make the product gentle on the hands, as alcohol is very drying on the skin. You can use any essential oil you have at home, as all essential oils are strong antiseptics in themselves. I use lavender oil which is at the same time a great healer for chafed or irritated skin. To make the product start by putting the aloe vera gel in a bowl, then slowly add the alcohol, whilst stirring all the time with a spatula in order to bind the two together. At the end, add the essential oil and stir some more. Now put your hand sanitizer in a sterilized bottle.”

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol and aloe vera body gel at home, chances are your local supermarket has some. For a more guided look into making a DIY hand sanitizer see the video on CyHerbia’s YouTube channel.

When it comes to staying healthy, and sane, it’s not just looking after the physical body that’s vital but the mind and spirit too. Going out for a breath of fresh air and reconnecting with nature help clear your mind and lungs.

“Gardening is very satisfying too. Even if all you have is a balcony, plant some happy flowers and herbs. Contact with the earth, getting your hands in the soil, is grounding and healing to the soul. Take the time to watch nature from up close, in your neighbourhood park or backyard and witness all the activities that are going on in nature. You’ll see swallows making their nests, bees collecting pollen, spiders weaving their webs. Realize every living thing, big or small has its place in the wheel of life, the same wheel that you and I are a part of. Understand that we’re all connected, it is a beautiful, comforting realization.”

As most countries around the world are on lockdown and people face a new-found reality with home-schooling children, working from home, not working at all or trying to manage anxiety this quarantine certainly gives us something we always complain we miss; time.

Time is in abundance right now, whether we like it or not and self-isolation can be a valuable lesson, though difficult. A time to re-evaluate our lives, what’s important, what we should let go of, how we want to move forward once this crisis is over.

“Spend quality time with your family, your kids,” comments Miranda. “Don’t have the news on, you don’t need that negativity. Instead, involve your kids in healthy cooking and baking, art and homeschool projects. Most importantly, remember: This, too, will pass.”