The mind controls how we interpret the world around us. It forms your awareness and perception of the events around us. One of its main functions is to help us develop a sense of whether we are safe or not. This helps set our personality in terms of confidence versus anxiety. While they may not seem connected at first, the immune system works in tandem with the mind to protect and organize us.
The immune system works to protect against outside invaders like viruses. This is particularly relevant in today’s world where we live surrounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. The immune system is the first line of defense against viruses like the coronavirus. In clinical settings, people with stronger immune systems, for example, young people, have been shown to fare better against the coronavirus than those with weaker immune systems. This is what makes the coronavirus so dangerous to the elderly and immunocompromised populations. Data like this have shown that immunity is a crucial part of wellbeing.
Stress and the Immune System
One of the key ways the mind and the immune system are linked is through stress. Over 300 hundred scientific papers, compiled over 30 years, concluded that heightened stress can lower the function of the immune system. The studies considered both the stress levels and the immunity of their subjects, and the results came through loud and clear. It was conclusively shown that while short term stress could increase the immunity of a patient, long term or chronic stress could severely impair the function of the immune system.
In the brain, the hypothallus acts as a major communication system between the immune system, the nervous system, and the endocrine (hormonal) system. When the body undergoes stress, this system enters a sort of fight or flight mode. In the short term, this can increase energy and focus. In the long term, however, this seems to backfire. The systems can become overwhelmed, and eventually depleted. At that point, if a virus, like Covid-19, is introduced, the immune system will be less equipped to fight it off.
Here are seven steps you can take to strengthen your immunity and wellbeing:
Stress generates a certain set of hormones which are then broken down. When you’re dealing with chronic stress, this becomes a cycle. Exercise can be helpful in reducing some of the impacts of these hormones. Since they can cause anxiety and other symptoms associated with stress, exercises like yoga can be especially helpful. Those who practice yoga have seen benefits like lowered stress hormones. Ultimately any exercise is better than none, so if you’re not a fan of yoga, there are plenty of other options out there.
Nutrition has been shown to have a strong impact on brain function, immunity, and wellbeing. Eating healthy food provides you with vitamins and minerals which help your immune system function effectively. It can also improve cognitive function. The Mediterranean diet in particular has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve immunity.
Getting enough sleep has been shown to improve immunity. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep can cause stress hormone levels to rise, even after only one night of poor rest.
Fresh air won’t cure you of any conditions. However, it can help reduce the stress of dealing with them. Studies have shown that when you spend time outdoors, you increase the number of phytoncides in your bloodstream. These small molecules have been shown to boost cells which can kill foreign invaders. People who spend regular time outdoors also report decreased feelings of psychological stress.
Therapy and Positivity
Sometimes dealing with stress isn’t something you can so alone. Going to a professional like a therapist for help is one of the most mature and self-aware decisions you can make in times of extreme stress. Therapists can help you organize your thoughts and reactions using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This can help you stop negative thought spirals before they become overwhelming.
Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down and closing your eyes to think for a bit. It can be anything that gives you a bit of time to relax and be mindful of your body. Meditation has been shown to reduce immunity cell aging and decrease inflammation.
The mind is an important part of wellbeing, closely linked to the immune system. Taking care to manage your stress levels can go a long way to maintaining your immunity. If you are struggling with stress or another mental health condition, TMS Advantage is here to help.
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