Stress and the Immune System
We’ve all been there. Studied all week for Finals Week, surviving on one hour of sleep each day and coffee. Or working overtime for a month straight with very little rest and eating fast food. At some point, you start to feel weak, and you start to sniffle. Soon you have a full-blown illness. The stress has compromised your immune system.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes that stress can severely weaken the immune system. Their statement is, “health can benefit from conscientious stress management.” The APA also states, “long-term or chronic stress, through too much wear and tear, can ravage the immune system...people who are older or already sick are more prone to stress-related immune changes.” Research demonstrates how stress can impact health both in the immediate future and in the long run.
If you’re worried about getting sick, there are steps you can take to manage stress and keep your immune system healthy and strong.
Get Your Sleep
Sleep is a great rejuvenator. When we sleep, the body recalibrates itself and fixes what it can. If we don’t sleep, the body can’t repair itself, and we start to feel tired and ill.
According to the CDC, adults should sleep for approximately 7 hours each day. Children and babies need between 8 and 17 hours of sleep, depending on their age.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation, affects the body’s immune system. And a lack of sleep weakens the way the body makes white blood cells, a vital part of the body’s immune system. Stress can negatively impact a person’s ability to produce germ-fighting material for their organization.
As much as possible, eat nutritious food from a wide variety of sources. Consuming fruits and vegetables in different colors helps to ensure that you are getting the right mix of vitamins and minerals. Avoid saturated fats and fatty meats. Drink water and maintain a healthy weight.
We know that specific vitamins and minerals directly influence the immune system. For instance, a lack of vitamin C can result in a weakened immune system.
Here are a list of other vitamins and minerals that affect immune function:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Folic acid
Obtaining these vitamins and minerals from the diet is highly preferred. However, it’s not always possible. These nutrients can also be consumed through supplements, which include multivitamins.
Find ways to reduce stress in your life. Although it can’t always be avoided, it can be managed. A few ways to practice self-care is to:
- Find time to perform things you enjoy
- Spend time away from the news and other sources that can aggravate stress.
- Maintain a support system, like family and friends.
- Meditate and perform breathing exercises.
During times of stress, breathing can make all the difference. Breathing can change the way we handle stress. When we can breathe deeply and slowly, we change the way our mind and bodies process stress. We keep stress hormones from overrunning the body and using up our ability to fight infection.
Being able to control your breathing can boost your immune system by managing stress. If you have a CalmiGo, this is a great time to use it 3 times a day for 3 minutes each time, in addition to any time you feel distress. If you don’t have one, it’s a great time to purchase.
We all need a little breather, now and then.