How Stress Can Harm Your Immune System

THW-stress-immune-system-blog

Stress seems to be an unavoidable part of our daily lives. In small doses, stress can be a helpful tool and motivator. But when daily stress becomes chronic stress, it can leave you feeling worn out and fatigued.

The result can be adrenal fatigue and a weakened immune system. The connection between mind and body is inextricable and shouldn’t be taken lightly!
To avoid getting sick this cold season, learn how your stress impacts your body, the negative role it has on your immune system and what you can do to manage your stress.

What exactly is stress?

When you are feeling stressed out, your adrenals are releasing the hormone, cortisol, into your body. Overtime, that cortisol builds up in your body and you become used to having excess amounts of the hormone in your blood. When this happens, it can leave your body susceptible to diseases, increased inflammation and weight gain (source).

Cortisol blocks your body’s ability to burn fat and so it’s not unusual to gain weight in the belly. Sleep patterns can also be disrupted when cortisol levels are high which adds fuel to the fire. Many times, I will recommend a cortisol reducing supplement, such as Cortisol Manager, to help the body deal with stress. You can find Cortisol Manager at a 15% discount in my online dispensary.

Stress also impacts the levels of lymphocytes in your body. Lymphocytes are the white blood cells that work to protect your body from foreign invaders and prevent infection. Chronic stress has a direct correlation to decreased levels of lymphocytes in the body (source). The fewer the white blood cells in your body means the higher the chance you will get sick.

Chronic stress can also lead to mental illness like depression and anxiety (source). The body and the mind both work together and the health of one can impact the other, how you manage your stress will help you manage sickness in the body.

How you can manage your stress

Tackling chronic stress can be overwhelming. But once you find the stress-reducing techniques that work for you, you will start to feel better both mentally and physically.

Meditation and BrainTap

Meditation has been used throughout the ages in various ways. There are many different forms of meditation that work for different types of people. You can research different types of meditation techniques and practice them. Also, you can download apps on your smartphone that can walk you through a guided meditation, like Headspace. Meditation can be difficult to master, so do not get discouraged if you have trouble the first time! Practice makes perfect. Whenever your mind wanders, a simple instruction to remember is to bring your awareness back to your breath.
BrainTap is another tool that I personally use on a regular basis. BrainTap helps me to clear my mind of excess chatter so I can focus and get things done. There are over 700 different programs in the BrainTap software which can help a wide variety of stress related issues. Check out BrainTap and see how this innovative software can help you to live a life with less stress.

Hug it out

If you are feeling stressed out, don’t be afraid to hug it out! Science has shown that cuddling can actually help reduce stress (source). Taking a minute and getting a good hug from a loved one or friend can make you feel good, physically and mentally. When we touch or hug, our bodies release oxytocin, the “love” hormone. In addition, it can reduce cortisol levels and trigger the release of dopamine, also known as the “feel good” hormone.
I tell my clients to be sure to get 10 hugs per day for optimal health. When they come in to see me in person, they are sure to get at least 2 hugs. One hug when they walk in and one hug when they leave!

Yoga

It is no surprise that exercise can reduce stress and improve your overall mood (source). If you struggle maintaining a workout routine, try yoga! Yoga is a relaxing, peaceful activity that anyone of any age can participate in. You can do yoga from the comfort of your home, or try taking a yoga class at a local studio.
There a many types of yoga from alignment based using many props, to hot yoga that will get you sweating, to goat yoga! Yes, even GOAT yoga! I encourage you to try a few different classes so you can find your perfect fit.

Find the silver lining

It is easy to complain, and sometimes it can feel good to vent about a negative scenario. However, complaining can actually be bad for your health (source). Know the difference between an afternoon vent-session with your best friend, and complaining. Try looking for the positive things in life even in unfortunate scenarios. Keeping a daily gratitude journal is one way to begin changing your mental habits from negativity to positivity. Begin or end each day by writing one (or five) things you are thankful for.
You can even make a gratitude rock garden. Get yourself some polished stones at the craft store or from the beach. Then use a permanent marker to write what you are grateful for on each stone. Every day you can pick a stone and carry it in your pocket as a reminder to be grateful and how blessed you truly are!

Reach out to your support system

If you are feeling stressed out and lonely, make a date with your friends and have some fun! Studies have shown that feelings of chronic loneliness can impact your health and weaken your immune system (source). Sometime when we are stressed and feeling down, we can have a tendency to want to stay home and avoid social interaction…which creates an unhealthy cycle that only feeds itself. Try challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone and call a trusted friend next time you are struggling.

Avoid stressful situations

When you procrastinate and leave large amounts of work for yourself, you’ll feel increasingly stressed out as the due dates approach. Not everything in your life is under your control, learn to discern what you can change and make the effort to do so. Something that helps me when dealing with overwhelm is to write down the ONE thing I must do by the end of the day in order to sleep soundly that night. Simplifying it down to one important action per day makes my to do list much more manageable, things don’t pile up as much and it teaches me what can wait until tomorrow.

Listen to some tunes

Music is a powerful tool! A certain song can make us cry from the beauty of it, and other songs take us back to happy memories. Music can be used as a way to reduce anxiety and stress (source). On your morning commute to work, try putting on some relaxing melodies or music that makes you feel happy inside. Or if you play an instrument, try picking it back up and strumming out a few songs. You’ll feel better before you know it!
A few of my happy songs are Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds,  Michael Franti’s Say Hey I Love You and Pharrell William’s Happy. It’s hard for me to be stressed out when I listen to these songs. What are your favorite happy songs?

Use essential oils strategically

After a long day, fill yourself up a warm bath, add a few drops of essential oils to a cup of Magnesium Flakes and dissolve into your bath water ! The warmth of the water and magnesium flakes will relax your muscles and the oils can provide relaxing aromatherapy. You can shop my favorite essential oils online here. The top 10 oils I recommend for stress are: lavender, rose, cinnamon leaf, grapefruit, eucalyptus, sandalwood, jasmine, sweet basil, frankincense and clary sage. You can use them individually, or mix them together for a more intense scent.
You can also diffuse the oils above in place of a scented candle. Many candles are actually toxic and can irritate respiratory problems or lower the immune system.

Supplements

You can also try taking a few different supplements to reduce stress.

  • Magnesium is a supplement that has been proven to help with mental health (source). We are often deficient in magnesium so this supplement is especially important. Check out my video on Facebook called the Top 7 Signs of Magnesium Deficiency too!
  • Vitamin B is another supplement you can try to help reduce stress (source). It can help you feel more calm and stable when stressful situations arise.
  • Another supplement I recommend taking is valerian root. Before bedtime, valerian root can help give a calming, sedative effect which will help you get a good night’s sleep and allow your body to recuperate from the day’s stressors (source).
  • Also, Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is an amino acid that helps brain function and can improve mood, reduce anxiety and stress (source).

If you would like to access high-quality, professional-grade supplements without a prescription, I use a FullScript online dispensary. You can sign up and peruse their supply of the professional-grade supplements I listed above and get a 15% discount too!
In addition to the above ideas, here are 40 more tips for reducing your stress!

What is your favorite way to reduce stress? Let me know in the comments!