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As we generally know, stress isn't known to be good for our health. It might impose negative effects the same way we consume junk food and living an unhealthy lifestyle. Sadly. those three usually connects to each other and form a devilish cycle. The simplest way and yet so hard to do, is to control how we respond to things and therefore control our stresses in order to live better. How then would you relate this to your immunity level? Read on to find out the surprising connection between what you think about and your bodily defense mechanism.
Side effects of stress
Ongoing stress makes us susceptible to illness and disease because the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases an array of hormones that not only gets us ready for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time.
Researchers discovered that brain activity may show the link between negative emotions and a reduced immune system for fighting off diseases. Although a correlation specifically between happiness and the immune system isn't found, there was a clear connection in brain activity between those who experienced negative emotions and a weaker immune system.
On the other extreme, stress also can overactivate the immune system, resulting in increased risk of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and acne also may worsen and stress can trigger asthma attacks.
How positivity boosts immunity
Scientists don't yet fully understand the biological mechanisms of a positive mindset at work, but it is already proven that negative feelings like stress, sadness, and worry cause a spike in the hormone cortisol, which in turn suppresses the immune system.
Also, in a number of studies that had been conducted, it was shown that groups of people who experience loneliness, anger, trauma and relationship problems, their infections last longer and wounds take longer to heal. However, having fun with friends and family seem to have the opposite effect on our immune system. Social contact and laughter have a measurable effect for several hours. Relaxation through massage or listening to music also reduces stress hormones.
Managing stress effectively
There are a few tricks to get your stresses in control:
Researchers have found that exercise is just as effective as antidepressants in treating clinical depression and increases the levels of endorphin in our blood. Better yet, exercise not only treats stress, it may also help prevent it as well; preliminary studies are beginning to show that the small amount of physical and mental stress you experience when you exercise acts sort of like an inoculation to high-stress events later, creating brain cells that are better able to deal with anxiety, or in other words, a more stress-resistant brain.
2. Get Enough Sleep
This is particularly important, because if we don’t get enough sleep, our ability to manage stress is compromised. Sleep regenerates our energy level, reduce stress and we won’t fall sick often. To obtain quality sleep, stay away from exercise or drinking caffeinated drinks just before sleep. Exercise helps the blood to circulate faster and energize the body while caffeinated drinks are stimulants. Both cause the body to be more alert rather than relax, which is necessary for sleeping.
3. Get Social
Social interaction does wonders for reducing stress. Our bodies release anti-stress, feel-good hormones like oxytocin when we’re around people who care for us. Plus, friends and family can offer some much needed advice and perspective that can help you manage and sort through whatever’s burdening you.
4. Taking things one step at a time
Feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the things that are piling up? Instead of focusing on the huge tasks that you have to do, break things up into their component parts and do one thing at a time until you’re done. Concentrate on simply putting one foot in front of the other.
Simple mindfulness meditation can reduce and even eliminate many of the negative physiological and psychological symptoms of chronic stress. While you’re meditating, blood pressure normalizes, breathing and heart rate slows, and your adrenal glands produce less cortisol. Participants in meditation studies often report lower anxiety, worry, and tension levels. Moreover, regular meditation actually rewires your brain and makes you more resilient in the face of stress.