Across thousands of years of history, Greece has been written about as a healing place. Here, Gina Varela writes about the mind-body-soul health benefits of a country she loves so much. 

Gripped in fear for months, segregated from friends and family, watching the livelihoods and stability of many of those close to us teeter perilously, we cannot deny the considerable toll this sudden, enforced suspension from life has had on our health – mental and physical.

Greece, an exemplary example of abiding lockdown law, now offers a heavenly haven to those worn-down and weary, looking to replenish their depleted vitamin D and experience a sliver of what life used to be before the madness.

As a half-caste Greek, raised in the Southern Hemisphere, Greece has been a cure for all kinds of ills for me. My body breathes a sigh of relief, allergies, asthma, and a vague melancholy disappear. My soul soars free in the azure sky the second I set foot on Greek soil. Whether I’m buoyant in the Aegean Sea, standing on powerful ley lines at Ancient sites, eating nourishing food that’s all kinds of comfort, or bathed in moonlight relishing in the incomparable feeling of the warm night air on my sun-kissed skin. Greece has always gifted me a harmony, a resonance. Like so many Philhellenes and the Diaspora, the world over, Greece is my happy, healing place.

Our health and well-being are our responsibility, and it’s becoming increasingly important to turn down the cacophony of fear-mongering we are now subjected to daily. We have an incredible secret weapon, a multi-layered shield for the body – our immune system. Shifting the focus to calming our minds and fortifying this intricate, hard-working armour will help us keep things in perspective and brave the calculated risk of exposure to this mysterious virus.

Ancient Greek, Hippocratic ‘wisdom healing’ focuses holistically on food and herbs to nourish mind, body, and soul, bringing equilibrium to the body’s systems that keep us healthy. The best defense for fighting off any virus is strengthening our immune system and keeping our inner world positive. Negative thoughts create an imbalance in our bodies, and while most predictions for late 2020 could not be described as cheery, it’s up to us to substitute some of that fear with a little faith. To enjoy some semblance of our former lives while we still can. To bask in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and feed our body the nutrient-rich foods and immune-stimulating herbs so it may perform at its best.

The Sea

‘Thalassotherapy’ activates the body’s healing mechanisms, it clears bronchitis, relieves asthma, and eases arthritis. Swimming in the sea stimulates the parasympathetic system for rest and repair and for the more New Age among us cleanses the aura. It floods us with dopamine and serotonin (vital in keeping us happy and depression at bay) while the minerals and trace elements have antibacterial and antimicrobial effects. With one of the longest and friendliest coastlines globally (almost 16.000km), there is plenty of towel space for those preferring physical distance.

The Sun

Greece has no shortage of sunny days – 300 every year approximately. Anybody who has lived in the UK or an equally gloomy climate will be familiar with SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and how tough it is to stay chirpy and healthy when you don’t feel the warmth of the sun for days, sometimes weeks on end. Hippocrates prescribed ‘Heliotherapy’ to treat a myriad of diseases. Immune cells have vitamin D receptors, and our susceptibility to respiratory illnesses increases when we are deficient in the vitamin.

Medicinal Herbs

Incorporating some of the bountiful curative herbs and spices used for millennia will strengthen our shield and help keep us fighting fit.

Rigani | Oregano Oil~ this effective immune booster exhibits antiviral activity against respiratory infections.

Fliskouni | Wild Mint~ Improves the respiratory system and helps smokers clean their lungs.

Tsai Vounou | Mountain Tea~ immune-stimulating, and beneficial for the upper respiratory tract. Relieves lung congestion and reduces excessive inflammation. It has also been proven to help prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s.

Krokos | Saffron~ Supercharges immunity and helps fight depression.

Greek Medicine states Man is essentially a product of Nature and the natural environment. Health is living in harmony with Nature, and disease results when this harmony and balance are upset. Come and give yourselves a reset.

“The natural forces within each of us is the greatest healer of disease” ~ Hippocrates.

All Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)  

Gina Varela

After years of yearning for a life in Greece, Gina moved to Athens in 2012, to permanently reside in this small but magnificent country amongst it's irreverent, freewheeling and fun-loving people with their innate understanding of the simple pleasures in life. As the Greeks pulled together to navigate the crisis, she was inspired to stay & put down roots. Gina was raised in New Zealand & has lived in Australia, the UK and the US. She has worked as an actress, copy writer, photographer, & designs & makes jewellery. She is particularly drawn to Greece's legacy of holistic healing, sustainable fashion, arts & design and those who have a positive effect on their communities and the youth.

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