How stress impacts your immune system. Could you potentially worry yourself sick?
You are getting ready for a big job interview, leaving the house just a little bit later than you would like and all of a sudden there is road construction and no alternate route in sight. Here come the stress hormones! Cortisol is the hormone that controls your fight or flight response. Your breath quickens, heart races, muscles are on edge. You are stressed.
This response exists to protect your body in an emergency or high-pressure situation by preparing you to act quickly. The problem arises when this response becomes a frequent occurrence or is normalized due to internal or external factors which can be physical or mental. Stress impacts your immune system through a continual cascade of cortisol that could put your health at risk.
Stress and The Immune System
The immune system consists of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream. These cells move in and out of tissues and organs, protecting the body against foreign bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, viruses, and mutated cells.
Research at Salisbury University suggests that the continual release of stress hormones produces hyperactivity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system and disrupts normal levels of the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of well-being. That means that stress may not only weaken your immune system; it can take away from the sensation of feeling good and make the negative effects of an illness feel worse.
Stress Makes it More Difficult to Sleep
According to experts, stress, anxiety, and depression can all lead to an inability to sleep. The mind tends to wander once the world is quiet and stressful thoughts continue the cascade of cortisol. This keeps you up and keeps your body in the awkward fight or flight state, which is not ideal for sleeping.
Sleep is extremely important to maintain a healthy functioning immune system. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least seven hours a night for most adults. And this does not include the time you spend tossing and turning. Here are some tips on how you can get better sleep naturally.
How to Chill Out While Staying Productive
Stress can often be an enabler as the worry it produces keeps you from being able to succeed at daily tasks and move forward. It is important to find a way to relax your mind and keep pressing on, even through uncertainty.
1. Get some sun - A little sunlight can go a long way. Even if you cannot go outside, hanging out close to a window may do you some good.
2. Laughter is the best medicine - Laughter is one of the best ways to decrease stress hormones like cortisol while increasing mood-boosting endorphins.
3. Drink tea - There is something about a good cup of tea that just makes you want to breathe deep and smile, even on the blah days. Part of this feeling is made possible by theanine, the amino acid found in many delicious teas.
4. Take CBD oil to relax - The endocannabinoid system is largely responsible for achieving and maintaining homeostasis, which includes both mental and physical balance. Receptra’s Seriously Relax Tincture + Lavender also includes passionflower and other natural botanicals to keep you calm.
5. Meditation - You knew it was going to be on the list. Focusing on the breath and recognizing when the mind has wandered can subconsciously improve focus in other areas of life allowing the brain to feel less-cluttered and overwhelmed.
6. Move around - Take a walk outside, or find online instruction for yoga or another kind of at-home workout. Exercise is shown to decrease cortisol and help you relax.
7. Talk to somebody - Isolation provides a great opportunity for the mind to wander and stress to flourish. If you can’t meet in person, call a friend or video conference with a group of friends. Connection is important.
Less Stress Means Better Health
There are plenty of ways to naturally boost your immune system, but some of the most important things you can do are to reduce your stress level, stay active and get more sleep. Sometimes that is easier said than done. Make a schedule and make your health a priority.