Boost Your Immune System to Reduce Your Stress

Stress is a modern epidemic. What used to be considered clinical levels of anxiety in the 1950s in young people are now average. Many possible reasons exist for the high levels of stress in modern society — constant busyness, 24-hour digital connectivity, the breakup of the traditional family, lack of community support, higher demands of productivity, less job security in the workplace, climate change and so on and on.

When you’re feeling stressed, your body releases stress hormones (corticosteroids) into your bloodstream that affect many of your bodily systems: your blood pressure rises, your immune system receives less energy and your natural capacity to heal is diminished. By using mindfulness to reduce your stress, your immune system is boosted and you’re more likely to get better, faster.

Chronic, that is long-term, stress makes you more likely to get ill, because the stress hormones suppress your immune system, making your body more susceptible to attack from disease. Chronic stress also raises your heart rate (because this is part of the fight-or-flight system) and may increase your chance of getting coronary heart disease.

Another effect of the stress response is an inhibition of your digestive system, linking chronic stress to problems such as gastric ulcers.

Think about the different times in your life when you experienced high levels of stress: perhaps it was exams, losing your job, money problems or loss of a loved one. What physical changes did you experience? Did you become ill? If so, how?

Doing so may reveal some patterns and show you the link between stress and disease in your own experience, to help motivate you to take steps to reduce your stress levels.

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