Managing stress is just as important as a healthy diet for maintaining immunity. Chronic stress can wear down your immune system. Scientists have found that in people who are stressed for even a few days, to a few months or years, all aspects of immunity declines. They also found that people who were older or already sick were more likely to have stress-related immune changes. This effect of long-term stress on your immune system can increase your risk of getting sick, and staying sick for longer.
There are many different ways to manage stress, and different techniques work for different people. Pick something that works best for you and your lifestyle, but don’t be afraid to also branch out and try something new while you’re stuck inside.
Here are a few of the methods I use for managing stress:
Exercise in any form can relieve stress. Whether your exercise style is long walks outside (at a safe distance from people), an intense cardio session, or a home workout video, all movement can be effective for reducing stress. Physical activity releases endorphins, improves your mood, and can help you get your mind off of whatever is stressing you.
Practicing meditation can bring calmness and a sense of peace to your day. By taking time to focus on the present moment you are allowed a chance to clear away the information overload that builds up over the day and contributes to stress. Meditation is most effective when it’s practiced consistently over time, and can take some practice. If you’re new to meditation, I recommend you check out Dr. Dean Ornish’s guide to choosing a meditation technique.
If you’re feeling the effects of social isolation from staying home and not being able to see friends and family, you’re not alone. It’s likely that your friends and family are feeling similar to you. Take some time to set up a phone or video call with your loved ones to check in. Social interaction can help get your mind off whatever is stressing you, and talking through your stress can be a helpful activity as well. We are more connected than ever with technology; take advantage of it!
This week I want you to try one (or all three) of these stress management methods, and really pay attention to how it makes you feel. Watch for another post soon on three more methods I use to manage stress.