You’re not alone if you’ve recently been stressed or anxious about life. According to some research, nearly one in two Americans feel physical and emotional distress due to increased stress in their lives. That can lead to various problems, like increased tension, shortened tempers, and mood swings. But did you know that stress can also negatively affect your immune system?
It’s true! In fact, stress can cause some serious negative effects on how your body responds to sickness and injury. We’ll look at how stress impacts your immune system – and what you can do about it – here.
What is Stress?
We’ve all been stressed at one point or another, so we all know the feeling. There’s some switch that flips in our animal brains, turning us from regular human beings into cornered beasts. It triggers our fight-or-flight response, impacting every piece of information we process. Generally, stress falls into one of two categories:
- Acute Stress: you’re in the thick of fight or flight mode. Acute stress can last up to 90 minutes. At that point, your body will start processing your stress hormones, metabolizing them out of your bloodstream as you return to normal. Generally, acute stress isn’t as damaging to your immune system as its counterpart.
- Chronic Stress: no one ever said that modern life was easy. Chronic stress is the result of that difficulty. It arises when we ignore stress from work, relationships with friends and family, and money. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your immune system
How Does Stress Impact the Immune System?
Our immune system has a pretty important job. Made up of white blood cells, it’s responsible for ensuring we don’t get sick or injured – and that we recover quickly when we inevitably do. Your immune system is working hard to keep you healthy right now.
When you feel stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Also known as the “stress hormone,” cortisol affects nearly every organ in your body. It helps regulate your metabolism, regulates tissue repair, and increases glucose in your blood. It can also lower the number of white blood cells in your body, which lowers your overall resentence.
This can trigger several side effects. A weaker immune system obviously means you’ll get sick more often. But that’s not all. A weakened immune system will also increase your risk of experiencing a chronic health problem. For example, stress can trigger cold sores from dormant viruses waiting for the perfect time to strike.
To make matters worse, our bodies can get desensitized to chronic stress. Suppose we experience heightened cortisol levels for prolonged time (usually more than a few days). In that case, our body starts to accept it. It maintains a high cortisol level even after the stress has passed. This can further complicate your immune system’s responsibilities.
How to Reduce Stress Naturally
Okay, so we’ve determined that stress can cause some pretty scary side effects on your immune system. Fortunately, you don’t have to sit back and let that happen. Here are some proactive ways to ensure chronic stress isn’t wrecking your body.
Get Plenty of Physical Exercise
Exercise is great for a lot of reasons. It helps maintain your body’s overall wellness in many physical and mental ways. One of those ways is by boosting your immune system. Experts agree that moderate exercise for about 60 minutes per day can help reduce your chances of getting sick. But while exercise is great, you shouldn’t overdo it. Heavy, vigorous exercise without proper rest can lower your immunity, making you more susceptible to infections.
Ensure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Just like exercise, getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to stay healthy. When you sleep, your body works on healing and cleaning itself up – two critically important duties of your immune system. In addition, getting enough sleep will help shorten the time you actually are sick (despite your best efforts, that’s gonna happen someday). Long story short, ensure you’re getting 8 hours of sleep a night!
Keep a Support Network of Friends and Family
You will need to do more than take care of yourself physically to boost your immune system. You’ll also need an emotional support net, too. That’s why it’s so important to keep a group of people you can trust nearby. These people can help you carry whatever emotional burdens you’re facing, which will take a huge load off your immune system.
Try CBD to Reduce Stress and Help Your Immune System
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