Did you know that there is a complex connection between stress and your immune system? When you're feeling anxious about life circumstances like work, family, money, or the news, your immune system reacts until you find yourself feeling ill.
Yes, our body's natural defense can become more vulnerable to prolonged psychological stress.
In this article, you will find out how your stress levels can weaken your immunity and what you can do to prevent this.
The Influence of Stress on the Immune System
The immune system is crucial in protecting the body from disease by eliminating pathogenic microbes and maintaining cellular health. As long as the body's homeostatic equilibrium is maintained, all of its processes can run as smoothly as possible. When this equilibrium is disrupted, a person's health is put at risk.
There is a wide range of potential causes for stress. But regardless of the root of the problem, stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol. The hormone cortisol can increase to unhealthy levels if the stress continues for an extended period of time.
But if your stress response keeps firing and your stress levels remain high for much longer than is required for coping, it can have negative effects on your health in many ways. Among the many signs of ongoing stress are:
In addition, stress may even compromise your body's ability to fight against infections! Here are some conditions that stress causes
Stress can make you susceptible to infections
Stress can lead to a decrease in the body's supply of natural killer cells or lymphocytes, which are vital for the immune system's ability to fight against diseases. Recent studies in immunology have shown that this can hinder the body's anti-inflammatory response, leading to persistent infections.
A weakened immune system is reflected in a person's increased susceptibility to frequent infections like the common cold and cough. When your immune system is compromised, a repetitive cycle is set up that makes it difficult to shake one's susceptibility toward infection.
Stress can lead to the development of chronic illness
Being stressed can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, which can be helpful in the short term when it comes to ward off infections. Unfortunately, persistent and systemic inflammation can promote the development of chronic illnesses.
Because adrenaline and noradrenaline play a role in the release of free fatty acids, stress is also causes a rise in blood cholesterol levels. As a result, cholesterol particles clump together, which causes blood clots and plaque buildup in the arterial walls.
Stress can also cause digestive disturbances
The digestive system can also be affected by stress. When your stress levels increase, digestion slows down. Then, intestinal activity rises after a stressful event. This could harm your digestive health and result to ulcers. In addition, the adrenaline that is released during a stressful response may potentially contribute to the development of ulcers.
How Can You Control Your Stress Levels?
Strategies for relieving stress not only provide a mental calm but also help lessen the strain on the immune system. You can take action to lessen both the stress you feel now and the tension you'll feel in the future. Here are a few strategies you can explore
Reduce stress by meditating for 10–15 minutes three or four times a week. This practise is also known as mindfulness. Doing this will help decrease inflammation and cortisol levels.
Practising yoga reduces inflammation by lowering stress hormone levels and calming your nervous system. Strengthen your immune system by practising deep breathing exercises. Yoga's inverted positions stimulate the lymphatic system, which removes waste products from the body by pumping fluid through the system.
3. Start an active lifestyle.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and other brain chemicals that make you feel happy. Redirecting your attention to your body's motions during exercise has been shown to boost mood and make it easier to forget about the day's frustrations. Think about activities like walking, jogging, gardening, housework, biking, swimming, weightlifting, and so forth.
4. Follow a balanced diet
A healthy diet is a vital component of self-care. Try to fill your plate with a rainbow of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
5. Stay away from unhealthy habits
Some people cope with stress by engaging in risky behaviours such excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, smoking, overeating, or use of illegal substances. Your health is at risk if you engage in such practises regularly.
6. Do some journaling.
The act of putting pen to paper can be therapeutic in releasing pent-up feelings. Don't plan your writing; instead, let your thoughts flow freely. Just put down whatever you think of. Since no one besides you will be reading it, there's no need in trying for perfect language and spelling.
The only rule is that you must write whatever comes to mind. You can either discard your writing after you're done with it or keep it for future reference.
7. Have more laughter
A good sense of humour won't heal all problems, but it will make you feel better. You'll feel better both mentally and physically when you laugh as it can alter your body’s dopamine and serotonin activity. When you laugh, your body's stress response cools down. Have a good laugh, whether you read a joke, hear one, watch a comedy, or spend time with a friend.
8. Get in touch with others
If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's natural to want to retreat within yourself. Communicate with those close to you and establish friendships.
An effective way to alleviate stress is to spend time with friends and family, who can provide distractions, and emotional support, and help you deal with life's ups and downs.
9. Get adequate sleep
Disrupted sleep patterns are a common side effect of stress. Stress and anxiety might prevent you from getting a good night's rest when you have too much on your plate. However, it is important to note that adequate hours of Zzzs help the mind and body recover.
The quantity and quality of your sleep also have an impact on your mood, energy, focus, and performance. If you're having difficulties sleeping, try establishing a calm, relaxing routine before bedtime. You can do it by listening to calming music, turning off electronics, and more.
Conquer stress and strengthen your immunity!
Stress can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, suppress your immune system, and disturb your digestive activity. As a result, it increases your risk of acquired diseases. Finding the causes of your stress and learning how to prevent or manage them can help you feel better soon. If you do this, you'll be helping your body's immune system and overall wellness.
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