At times when you are super stressed, someone may have told you something to the effect of, “You really should do something about that stress, or you’re going to get sick.”
Are stress and your immune system really connected? If so, what should you know about stress and immunity, and how can you better regulate them? Let’s take a look at the facts.
The Cleveland Clinic writes:
“Stress occurs when life events surpass your abilities to cope. It causes your body to produce greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In short spurts, cortisol can boost your immunity by limiting inflammation. But over time, your body can get used to having too much cortisol in your blood. And this opens the door for more inflammation, Dr. Calabrese says. In addition, stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes — the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for viruses, including the common cold and cold sores.”
The Cleveland Clinic also says that chronic stress can contribute to conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, IBD and psoriasis (all of which are inflammatory conditions).
Wow, finding out the potential health ramifications of stress was really … stressful, wasn’t it? Being told you need to lower your stress to prevent problems with inflammation and immunity can feel like being put into a double bind. After all, there is a good chance that existing health problems are part of what is stressing you out.
None of us can expect to have perfect control over our stress levels. Some things are inherently stressful. Prolonged physical or psychological duress is going to have an adverse impact.
But that doesn’t mean you need to be entirely passive about stress management. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that simple healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce stress. These include not smoking, not abusing food or drink, exercising, practicing relaxation techniques and removing unnecessary stressors from your life.
The Cleveland Clinic also suggests, “Assert yourself. You do not have to meet others' expectations or demands. It's okay to say "No." Remember, being assertive allows you to stand up for your rights and beliefs while respecting those of others.”
Examining how you are living your life may help too. As the Cleveland Clinic says on that same page, you should examine your values and be true to them, take responsibility for what you can control, detach from what you cannot, and set achievable goals. Self-esteem also can help buffer against stress.
Along with following these recommendations, you also might consider taking a healthy herbal supplement to support adrenal health. Phosphatidylserine, Ashwagandha Root Extract, Magnolia Bark Extract and Magnesium are all worth considering.
Chronic stress doesn’t develop overnight, nor does it go away overnight. So, be patient and give your body and mind time to adjust to your new healthy habits. Hopefully soon, you’ll be less stressed with higher immunity and lower body-wide inflammation.
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