One Covid-19 Doctor’s Personal Wellness To-Do List

Care for body, soul, and spirit go a long way right now

Rupa Marya, MD
Published in
4 min readMar 14, 2020


Nurse Cho Lee prepares to enter a patient’s room on the Covid-19 floor at Saint Francis Hospital in San Francisco, California, on April 6, 2020. Photo: San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

I’I’m a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) physician working in the hospital on the front lines of Covid-19 response in San Francisco, who also happens to be married to a regenerative organic farmer with two sons living in Ohlone Territory. A lot of people have asked me what I do to stay healthy, so I created a list in the hope that others might find it useful.

Sing out loud! It expands lung capacity and the stimulation of the vagal nerve can calm your body’s overdrive from stress.

The following recommendations as to how best to support your health in pandemic times are my own — derived from a combination of common sense, evidence-based medicine, and traditional indigenous knowledge. I don’t share these recommendations believing they can prevent the coronavirus. But they can, in my opinion, help boost individual immunity and help us learn and grow in a difficult time.

  • Get solid sleep each night (7–8 hours).
  • Gargle warm salt water twice a day. This makes the mucosa at the back of your mouth less hospitable to viral visitors.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your body well hydrated.
  • If you have a humidifier, consider using it. Be sure to use it properly (and clean it every day). We know that viruses have a harder time establishing themselves in our respiratory system when ambient air has 40% humidity.
  • Go easy on the dehydrating things like too much coffee.
  • Cook foods with natural immune boosters like garlic, ginger, turmeric, parsley, thyme, sage, and bone broth.
  • Consider taking elderberry syrup, which may shorten the duration of viral illness such as influenza. There has been concern about cytokine storm and elderberry syrup, but this concern arises from a limited in vitro study. I personally do not consider this a reason not to take this traditional medicine.
  • Increase the amount of zinc in your diet by eating more chickpeas, almonds, cashews, lentils, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and…



Rupa Marya, MD

Physician, Artist, Activator for Health Equity