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Does Stress Affect My Immune System?

Ask just about anyone if they feel stressed and they’ll probably say yes. While short-term stress can be beneficial, long-term stress, like what many of us are currently experiencing, has more serious consequences. Stress and anxiety are among the most common health issues affecting digestion, mood, weight and even the immune system.

Stress and the Immune System

Many people may not realize stress and the immune system are so closely related, but they are. Stress causes your body to produce increased levels of various stress hormones, especially cortisol. Over time too much cortisol can cause your body to struggle to regulate a healthy response to harmful invaders and it can start attacking itself.  Stress also decreases white blood cells that help keep you strong. The lower your white blood cells the more at risk you are. Recovery may be slower since the immune system is suppressed from dealing with stress.

There can also be an indirect effect of stress on the immune system as you try to cope with anxiety through unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking or overeating, all of which further weaken your immune system.

Tips for Easing Stress on the Immune System

So, what can you do to combat the effect of stress on the immune system? Plenty! Start with these.

Exercise. It burns extra energy, releases feel-good endorphins, and supports a healthy immune function.

Write it down. Putting stressors on paper helps you get it out of your system.

Get your ZZZs. Poor sleep is associated with lower immune system function, so try your best to get 7-9 hours nightly.

Take time for yourself. Whether a pedicure or lunch with a friend, make time to do something fun for yourself.

Try aromatherapy. Your olfactory receptors can lift your mood and ease stress. Relaxing scents include lavender, frankincense, sandalwood, and bergamot.

Laugh more. Did you know children laugh about 350 times a day while adults laugh only about 15? Laughing is important for decreasing stress hormones and boosting immune cells. 

Try stress-busting supplements. Some of the most popular are lemon balm, ashwagandha, valerian, B-vitamins, passion flower, green tea, kava kava and CBD oil.

Incorporate one or two of the above tips to ease the effect of stress on your immune system and stay healthy no matter what comes your way.

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