By Natalie Marciniak, Durisan Communications Specialist | Contributor
Your immune system is significantly impacted by your level of stress, attitude, mood and emotional state. When you’re optimistic and happy, your immune system functions properly. But constant exposure to stress hormones does not do a body good.
Everyone has stress; it’s an inevitable part of life. However, if you’re seriously stressed out for a long time, you’re going to be more prone to illness. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all dealing with more stress than usual. This makes knowing how to handle stress more important than ever.
A few effective ways of managing your stress are:
- Slowing down
- Counseling can also help greatly
Here are some other tips on how you can de-stress:
Besides helping you calm down, deep belly breaths can also help you fight off bugs, germs and other invaders. When you breathe deeply, you activate a muscle called the diaphragm, which is located above the gut and internal organs and below the lungs. By activating your diaphragm, you’re giving a massage to your internal glands and organs. This movement helps move lymph, which contains white blood cells, through your body.
Get enough sleep
You may have noticed that you tend to catch a cold or other infection more often when you’re not getting enough sleep. Studies show that well-rested people who got the flu vaccine developed stronger protection against the sickness.
Not sleeping enough can lead to higher levels of stress hormones. It can also lead to more inflammation in the body. Although researchers aren’t exactly certain as to how sleep helps the immune system, it’s clear that adequate sleep—usually seven to nine hours on average for an adult—is essential for your good health.
Move your body
Bodily movement improves your heart health, releases feel-good chemicals that fight stress and helps you release anxiety. Ideally, practice 30 minutes of aerobics and 5 to 10 minutes of stretching daily, while also including deep breathing and relaxation.
While working out, your body’s levels of white blood cells and other illness-fighting agents increase. These immune system fighters look for and attack viruses. The more active you are, the more efficient your immune system tends to be.
The key is to exercise regularly—but not too much. Overexertion without timely breaks can be counterproductive, actually increasing your stress and suppressing your immune function. Consider exercising in the great outdoors, or be very aware of your gym or studio’s social distancing and sanitization efforts.
Several studies have shown that sustained humor and laughter can boost your immune system by increasing the number of antibodies and increasing the activity of immune system cells, such as white blood cells and t-cells. Laughing lowers your levels of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), which weaken immunity. It also increases your levels of hormones that improve mood and immunity (human growth hormone and beta-endorphins).
Strengthen your social bonds
Social connection and support are vital to your general well-being and also help supply your body with feel-good hormones like oxytocin. Even if we’re still social distancing, you can talk with friends and family on the phone or by video chat.
Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Durisan.com and is not meant to infer medical advice. Always consult your physician with any questions or concerns you may have.