By Kay Leaman, Health Architect
Reducing stress (#7 in Part 2 on strengthening the immune system) is one of the ways we can help our immune system. It’s also one of the most difficult because it’s unavoidable. There are two types of stress—psychological and physical.
In very basic terms, your brain recognizes a stressor (a stimulus that causes stress), and a message is sent to the pituitary gland which tell your adrenals to increase the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) circulating in the blood. This hormone works by providing an energy boost during periods of stress. Examples of this are a student preparing for an exam or information overload during a major event or oncoming hurricane. These stressors are short-lived, so the impact on our immune systems is minimal.
When stress lasts for longer periods of time, the elevated cortisol suppresses your immune system by reducing production of white blood cells, which are responsible for battling germs. How many people have you known that return home from vacation with a cold?
It’s important to recognize when your stress is lasting too long. But, why get stressed about being stressed when we can begin finding moments in our everyday life to decompress? So, STOP trying to ‘push through’ and take a break. Close the laptop, silence your phone and take a walk around the block, water your outdoor plants, listen to some music while you sit in the shade. Brief gaps are known to be stress-reducers and taking time outdoors is proven to help you decompress in your most needed moments.
Music can also make a difference; something soothing that can relax the mind. What about playing games with family or friends, exercise, etc.
Whatever you choose, listen to your body and make the necessary lifestyle changes to give your immune system the care and nourishment it needs. It really will make a difference.
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