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What to Do When Stress Sabotages Your Immune System

By Sandy Schroeder

When stress hits your immune system and you find yourself fighting off an infection, you may be able to pin the date it occurred linking it to a particularly stressful situation. You may have missed a major deadline, received serious health news about a family member, or suffered a crucial financial setback. 

Whatever the culprit, when the stress impact is strong enough, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That makes you more vulnerable to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can inhibit the strength of the immune system. To fight back you need solutions to lower stress.

Simple Ways to Lower Stress

Consider these ways to make your life easier. 

Make time for meditation on a daily basis - Ten minutes in the morning or the evening could give you a whole new perspective on the day. Get up early before the rest of the family and spend a little quiet time to reflect. Or wrap up the day with a few thoughtful moments of gratitude for your blessings.

Practice a simple breathing exercise - Take five deep breaths in and out. Let your belly come forward with each inhale. Picture yourself blowing up a balloon. Then imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.

Remember to laugh - The Mayo Clinic says laughter isn't just a quick refresher. It is also a perfect long-term reinforcement for the immune system. The positive impact of laughter can prompt the body to release neuropeptides that fight stress and more serious illnesses. Laughter also helps the body produce natural painkillers, cope with daily challenges, and connect with others.

More Ways to Strengthen the Immune System

Load up on fruits and veggies - Fill the fridge and serve berries, tangerines, celery sticks, carrots and grapes for snacks.

Stay slim and trim - If you need to lose weight, do it. If you are trim, stay there to give your body one more way to be healthy and strong.

Don't smoke - Take steps to find one of the more effective ways to stop and avoid hanging out with smoker friends.

Walk, run or workout daily - Dedicate at least 30 minutes every day to a physical activity that you enjoy. It could be dancing, shooting hoops, playing soccer or volleyball, biking or hiking. Just make room for it to release stress and strengthen the body.

Only drink in moderation - One or two drinks a day is a healthy limit. Stick with it and intersperse water with alcohol to stay hydrated.

Make sleep a priority - Get 7 to 9 hours a night and make your bedroom a sleep retreat. Keep the same bedtime daily and shut down electronics about two hours before bedtime. Develop a sleep ritual with soft music, a warm bath or a book and a snack.

Avoid infection - Wash your hands frequently and cook meats thoroughly.

See your doctor if chronic patterns of stress and infections develop.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Chula Vista, Calif.

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