Although there is much to reflect on at the end of this very interesting year, my end of year musings are about what we learned that can help us improve our health. Here are 3 things that I believe we can take from 2020

As this new virus hit us around March, there was very little that was known about it. However, it became clear very early on that this virus affected everyone differently.  There were people who ended up very sick on a ventilator, there were those who had very mild symptoms and then there were those who showed no symptoms at all.  What differentiated them was their Immune system, the very intricate system in our body that protects us against germs.

Many factors influence the health of our immune system.  The health of our gut, the foods we eat, the level of inflammation in our body and the level of stress we are experiencing all have an impact on our Immune health.  Evidence started emerging that those with suboptimal levels of Vitamin D had a worst outcome if infected by Covid.  Vitamin C therapy was also used to dampen the effects of the virus.  Both Vitamin D and Vitamin C play an important role in the functioning of the Immune system.

Although there isn’t much talk of preventative medicine in the media, this pandemic has shown us that the health of our Immune system matters. After having taken the necessary precautions of washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing we also need to look after our Immune system so that it is better equipped to handle the virus.


Mental health issues are often disregarded in our society.  It is the silent disease because we don’t see the effects of it on our physical health.  Mind and body are connected and there is evidence to show that those suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental health issues tend to suffer from more physical ailments as well.

2020 was the year where our mental health was put to test.  Due to lockdowns, isolation and fearful news on the media, many people suffered from anxiety and depression like never before.

It is unfortunate that many of our institutions are based on fear and media is designed to tell the story of what can go wrong and NOT what can go right.

Fear is detrimental to the immune system.  Fear keeps us stuck in chronic stress where the flight or fight mode is turned on and this can wreak havoc in the body.

Mindset is a very powerful tool when dealing with the kind of fear we experienced in 2020.  This year has been the year where we learned to consciously choose faith over fear.  After having taken the necessary precautions, we had to trust the universe and our bodies because that’s all we could do.  Fear really is about something we are predicting in the future that isn’t real in the present moment.  Learning how to be mindful and present became important to overcome the constant barrage of fearful news.

As we head into 2021, mindful practices that keep us in the present moment and away from the fear of the future are more important than ever before.


It was the year of technology.  Many of us learned new ways to connect with loved ones over the internet.  My elderly parents became comfortable attending religious and social events over Zoom.  Although it seemed like technology was taking over our life, it became apparent that we all craved face-to-face connections even if it meant wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart.  Parking lot meetups with everyone 6 feet apart became popular amongst teenagers.  Neighbours dropping off treats to each other and conversing on driveways became a common sight.  We had customers that came into the pharmacy just to chat and have that face to face human interaction.

Connections increase Oxytocin in the body, the “love” hormone that opposes the effects of the “stress” hormone Cortisol.  Decreasing Cortisol and increasing Oxytocin do wonders for our body.  Despite the “social distancing” orders, we couldn’t really socially distance…we physically distanced but our hearts stayed connected.

Despite the challenges, many good things came out of this pandemic.  The media may have only shown us the fights over toilet paper or the arguments over masking, it failed to show the many human connections made and the love shared.

They say there is no growth without challenges.  2020 gave us many challenges and with it many opportunities for growth.  May we continue to grow with all that we learned in 2020.

Yours in Health & Wellness

Aziza Amarshi, RPh, RHN

Pharmacist, Holistic Nutritionist