9 Step Stress Reduction And Immunity Boost!
Stress can be debilitating and overload happens often in our fast-paced world. We develop coping mechanisms on a patchwork basis, sometimes working brilliantly, sometimes woefully inadequately. But when overwhelm happens and the stress meter reaches critical it can wreak havoc with our health; mental, physical and spiritual.
How well we deal with stress can mean the difference between a full creative and rewarding life, or becoming susceptible to illness, disability and disease. In the latter our immune system can become compromised and aging become accelerated. Gaining the methods and abilities to relax and rejuvenate when needed can help us realize a life of wellness, vitality and longevity.
Having a healthy immune system enables our body’s healing process and protects it against the agents of disease. When stress compromises our immune response we become susceptible to colds, flu and cardiovascular problems. Fatigue is often the other half of the equation with stress that leads to compromised health. Other results of stress are increases in blood pressure, adrenaline, cortisol, free radical oxidative damage and glucose/insulin imbalances. Not to mention the emotional responses creating anxiety and depression.
So given the obvious bad effects of too much stress there is advantage in protecting the immune system. It can result in having a longer, happier life. So here are 10 sure-fire safeguards that can help lead to that more full and healthy life:
Walking and Physical Activity: Regular exercise and physical activity (dancing, regular gym workouts, swimming, cycling…you get the idea. Vary your routines!) But realize these activities do not need to be marathons taking all day, or even hours. The key is doing something every day where a 3 minute session can be just as valuable as a 30 minute. But do Something physical every day!
Yoga and Stretching: In a previous post I spoke about the benefits of Yoga. I mention it here again because of the benefits from a yoga practice are worthy of inclusion here. Strength results from the slow movements and the sustained postures in yoga. There are also gains in flexibility, range of motion at joints, balance, improved breathing, cardiovascular benefits and increased mental focus, clarity and calmness. Other benefits are a reduction of mental and physical stress, tension and anxiety, better sleep and overall feelings of harmony and contentment. So if you choose this path for your discipline of physical activity, it will definitely have positive returns.
Sleep: Sound restful sleep has a profound impact on our health and well-being, on our immune function and resistance to disease. Continual lack of sleep will cause chronic feelings of being sluggish, irritable, forgetful and even lead you to become accident prone.You will develop difficulty in concentrating or grow to lack coping skills in dealing with life’s daily aggravations. Long-term sleeplessness can eventually result in heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and hypertension. Good sound sleep in regular cycles is essential to our health and well-being. It is a time when the body restores itself and the immune system recovers from the insults it has been dealing with. If you find you just cannot get the 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night, that you wake up after say 6 hours, then allow yourself to lay in bed for a time and just let your mind slip away to any thoughts that want to come up. This can be a very creative time and can center your life’s activities to what truly matter most to you.
Laughter: It can be joyous, expressive, a shared moment with others that we later cherish. Also, physiologically, it can actually press oxygen into our cells giving us a real feeling of exhilaration. It reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and laughter enhances the immune system by increasing activity and creation of T-cells which are the body’s first defense against viral attacks. Can you recall a time you had a gut busting, tear streaming laugh with someone you were close to, a family member or a dear friend? It can create a memory bond that lasts a lifetime.
Good Hygiene: Cleansing the body on a regular basis has obvious benefits as with removing sweat and grime that can host the increase of detrimental bacterial growth. Regular cleaning of hands helps prevent the accumulation and spreading of disease agents as well. There is also the effect of flowing water creating negative ionization charge of our energy field which lends to solid states of confidence and harmony. There is also the sensual aspect of the water sliding over our skin, the fluctuations of temperature that invigorate and revitalize. This could be one of the go-to methods to bring you out of any funk or lackadaisical moods…give it a try when you are just feeling flat.
Music: Listening to music can rebalance our being, both selections that are new to us and old favorites as well, which can evoke pleasant memories. Soothing sounds can reduce tension, lower blood pressure and promote feelings of tranquility. And for personal growth, pick up an instrument and play it a few minutes every day. You don’t have to become good at it, just start simply with a few notes tied together that you learn to play fluidly (the sense of achievement is a real boost too!). All it takes is a simple flute or harmonica that is easy to have around and play with. It will help your dexterity as well!
Good Nutrition: Just look at the world and the foods so many people are eating, then look at the decline in life expectancy and the increase in obesity and chronic illness. Much of it is based on the degraded and modified foods we eat. Quality food has got to be a priority if you want a better life; it is the cornerstone of good health.
Just briefly, because it is a huge topic, here are some basic guidelines:
1. Avoid too much bread, sugar, dairy and meat
2. Strive for Organic whenever possible
3. Stay hydrated, drink filtered water
4. Choose fresh vegetables and never over-cook them
5. Get involved in your own food preparation, learning more and participating
6. Share meals with others
Devote time in thought about your meals, how they can be more satisfying and beneficial. The rewards your answers reveal will cast a whole new meaning on your food experience.
Positive Thinking: Developing the discipline to focus our thoughts in positive directions can have enormous benefits. As with any beginning, results take time. But employing the intention daily and with the integrity of following through on the promise to yourself will bring about very noticeable changes in your life. Give it a try and don’t give up too soon. Be regular and consistent. Envision different ways of handling situations where you may have reacted with anger or some destructive thought and see yourself going through the experience with a new approach, one that is positive and affirming for you AND the other person(s). Or just witnessing your own attitudes and shifting those out of negative habits to being more positive. Feel the smile in your heart and how that migrates to your face.
Teas: Herbal teas can have amazing effects in balancing the chemical processes in our digestion. Some can invigorate while others sedate. Green and Black teas provide amino acids like L-theanine which increases the infection fighting capacity of the immune system, while also promoting a sense of relaxation, calmness and well-being through their influence of releasing neurotransmitters in the brain. Have a collection of teas on hand and play with your sixth sense in determining which tea to choose. By listening to your body you will find other sensitivities entering in, things like precognition and perceptions beyond the usual physical senses.