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How to Fight Stress and Keep Your Immune System Healthy

 Does Stress Impact Your Immune System?

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. And sometimes, such as when you have an important presentation at work, it’s not a bad thing to be keyed up. But when demands pile up at work or home and make it hard to relax, these hassles can impact your immune system and the immune system.

Is It Chronic?

Your body naturally reacts to stressors such as anxiety by a series of nerve and hormonal signals that release a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, the so-called “fight-or-flight” response. Adrenaline raises blood pressure and increases your heart rate, while cortisol suppresses nonessential functions and enhances your brain’s use of glucose.

Hormone levels drop back to normal when the threatening event is over. But if you’re chronically stressed these levels can remain high, keeping your body in a state of prepared readiness that can wear you down and impact your immune system over time.

Consequences of Long-Term Stress 

Scientists have long been fascinated by the mind-body connection. A number of studies have shown weakened immune responses in people who have suffered from repeated stressors such as isolation, emotional and physical stress. 

In a review conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, psychological stress was found to disrupt communication between the nervous-endocrine systems and the immune system. [1] And in other research, modifications to immune system measurements were found in survivors four months after Hurricane Andrew and in hospital employees several months after a devastating California earthquake. [2,3]

How to Fight Stress: 

So what can you do? Take a mental break and fight back:

•Try yoga. Focusing on something challenging makes it hard to obsess!

•Meditate. It’s calming, and deep breathing naturally relaxes you

•Socialize with people you enjoy

•Get a pet or volunteer at your local animal shelter

•Take up a (non-competitive) hobby, like reading, cooking or gardening

•Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and helps you get a good night’s sleep

Support your body’s protective mechanisms by limiting the negatives and focusing on the positives to stay at your healthy best!

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