Exposing HOW chronic stress destroys the immune system
(NaturalHealth365) The vast majority of American adults say they feel anxiety or stress – every day. As one of the most stressed nations on earth, it’s time to start taking a serious look at the connection between (chronic) stress and the immune system.
An overview of studies surrounding stress and the immune system shows a link between stress and how the immune system functions that goes back decades. When you’re feeling stressed out, depressed, or lonely, you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up getting physically sick.
Turns out, your state of mind and how you respond to stressful situations does dramatically influence the development of disease or wellbeing.
Chronic mental stress is a big threat to your future health, according to many studies
Back in the 1980s, an immunologist and psychologist found it intriguing to see studies linking stress to infection. They went on to do their own study on medical students, discovering that the stress of three-day exams decreased the students’ immunity.
Since then, hundreds of studies have been done on the links between stress and health. Those studies have revealed unique patterns. When people experienced stress for a significant duration of time, their immunity went downhill, leading to the conclusion that too much stress can wreak havoc on the immune system.
Researchers also discovered that individuals who are already sick or older are at a greater risk to stress-related immune dysfunction. In aging adults, even mild depression may suppress their immune system. Some experts even believe that stress may be responsible for up to 90% of all diseases and illnesses, including the big ones like heart disease and cancer.
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How does stress affect your immune system? It triggers chemical reactions in the body, releasing the stress hormone cortisol, which can decrease white blood cells. Keep in mind, white blood cells are designed to help us with infections.
Chronic stress also increases the risk of inflammation – which increases the rate of tissue damage and infection risk. The effects of stress tend to be cumulative, which means that every-day stress may eventually lead to serious health problems. Unfortunately, the only “solution” that Western medicine offers is a toxic drug, that only adds to stress – especially in the liver!
Don’t wait: Take healthy steps NOW to reduce stress in your life
The key to combating the effects of stress on the immune system is to become more aware of daily stressors and find ways to eliminate them. Several steps you can take to reduce stress include:
- Get Social: Having a strong social support system can lower stress and is linked to better overall health and immune function. We can’t stress this enough. (Pun intended!)
- Be physically active: Exercise puts physical stress on the body but has big mental stress-relieving benefits. In fact, regular exercise helps to lower levels of cortisol; improves the quality of your sleep, and boosts self-confidence. All of this is great for your immune system.
- Experience relaxation: Relaxation techniques like guided imagery or meditation can strengthen the link between your body and mind. Using them regularly will keep the negative effects of stress at bay and help you to make better decisions in your life.
- Keep a journal: Writing down what you’re stressed out about can help you to work out anxiety and stress. In many cases, simply expressing your concerns on paper can provide that release to help you to “let it go.” As an added bonus: you may even gain additional insights to help you sort out what’s troubling you.
- Express more gratitude: Generally speaking, when you have a more positive attitude, things tend to work out better. But, beyond just thinking more positively, be sure to tell others in your life how much you appreciate them.
- Correct nutritional deficiencies: Never overlook the mental health benefits of a good (organic) diet. Simply put, consuming too many toxins will eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies and poor emotional health. Be sure to eat high quality (non-toxic) fats, plenty of vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) and, if necessary, look into the benefits of vitamin D, vitamin C, lemon balm, ashwagandha, holy basil, curcumin, St. John’s wort and valerian to help reduce the feeling of stress in your life.
Editor’s note: If stress is making you feel depressed, read this NaturalHealth365 article for some helpful tips.
Sources for this article include: