Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick more often when you’re stressed out?
Scientists have known about this connection for a long time. When you are stressed it decreases the functioning of your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to the flu and other infections.
Short Term Stress Increases Immune System
A “Fight or Flight” response increases the immune function because your body is trying to beat the stressor.
Long Term Stress Decreases Immune System
In todays fast paced world a majority of our stress is continuous over a long period of time. We no longer have the “Fight or Flight” response and just let the stress bear down on us.
What is Long Term Stress?
One of the largest contributing factors to long term stress is our belief that we can not control the situation or that there is no end to it.
These stressors include a debilitating accident, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, severe financial difficulties and family problems.
Often time when life hits us hard we think it’s is beyond our control and will never stop. As stress takes its toll our body feels unable to cope which causes drop in almost all immune functioning.
The longer the stressor lingers the greater the decrease of our immune function. This means even after you feel you have gained control you may have decreased disease fighting abilities.
The decrease in immune system functioning is greater for people who are elderly or already sick. Especially the elderly who have been severely injured or have recently lost a loved one.
Regardless of how hard you try, you can not prevent many of the traumatic events that happen in our life time. Stress can also make you more susceptible to other diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
So What Are You To Do?
Maintain a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise and practice relaxation techniques such as Yoga or Meditation. This helps you to handle all stress with the least impact on your health. You’ll feel better, have a clearer mind and will be able to bounce back from long term stressors a lot faster than most.
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