Have you ever experienced being stressed out or depressed, then coming down with something a few days later? Your stress levels and your immunity are more closely linked than you think.
The connection between stress and the immune system
Your immune system is a complex system of cells, organs and tissues working together to protect the body from bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms. When you’re stressed, you body produces a hormone called cortisol, which triggers your brain’s fight or flight response.
When the cortisol levels increase, other body functions that are not essential in a fight-or-flight situation is halted. This includes immune system responses, the digestive system, and growth process.
Your hormone levels return to normal when the perceived threat has passed. But when you are chronically stressed, this fight-or-flight reaction remains on and your body functions are in low gear—including your immune system. With your defense system down, your body becomes more vulberable to disease and infection.
How to cope with stress
We all experience stressful situations. But while you may not always be able to change it, you can manage how these events impact you.
Some ways you can manage stressors in a healthy way include:
- Keeping a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation
- Fostering healthy relationships
- Keeping a positive attitude and maintaining a sense of humor
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