I’ve mentioned a few times on posts and you have probably heard it thrown around a bit lately, the association of stress and the impact on the immune system and why in the current environment these are both so important.
How does stress impact the immune system?
When demands on the body exceed the ability of our body to cope and deal with the current demands is when we experience stress.
Stress is not always bad for the body to experience, acute stress, such as exercise is positive for our body. This is the type of stress that we might experience over an hour training session or at a time the body senses and emergency, then the body has time to relax, be calm and reset. It is our “fight or flight” mode, our in-built survival system. We build resiliency from acute stress, simple short episodes that we have the time to recover from.
However, chronic or long term stress, particularly for an undetermined time, has a negative effect on health. It can lead to an overactive or underactive immune system and a loss of the immune systems natural ability to regulate. This can increase risk of infection and decrease the ability to fight infection when encountered.
Latent viruses in the body such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Herpes simplex virus (HSV), Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) can produce physical symptoms when the body is under chronic stress. You may notice a cold sore appear, fatigue or joint aches. When we are relaxed, and chilled the immune system can keep these guys under control, however in times of chronic stress the immune system can’t keep up.
How do you know if you are experiencing stress?
- Holding your breath, shallow breathing, suddenly requiring a deep breath
- Increased heart rate or feeling a “booming heart”
- Tongue pushed up on the roof of your mouth
- Lack of concentration & difficulty focussing
- Brain fog
- Lighter menstrual bleed, skipped menstruation or a lengthier cycle
- Bloating and inconsistent bowel motions (diarrhoea/constipation)
- Disrupted sleep and waking feeling fatigued
- Feeling irritable, snappy, anxious and/or depressed
- Craving sugar and additional carbohydrate intake
- If you are a human living through the current global pandemic
**it is worth noting, these symptoms can be from a range of health conditions and if you are experiencing them, your natural health practitioner can support you in finding and addressing the root cause**
What to do right now?
- Stop watching every news update on COVID-19.
- Give yourself 20 minutes each day where you can talk about the “C” word & then move on.
- Communicate with positive people. Realistic positivity is important right now, it’s a tough time, it’s not sunshine & rainbows, however, a positive focus will help.
- Take it day by day. Don’t think too far ahead as this can become overwhelming.
- Deep breathing and meditation.
- Yoga & Exercise (FYI it’s not the time to be pulling out the three-hour runs).
- Fresh Air & Sunshine.
- Let go of high expectations, if you feel you need day reading a book and chilling out, then do it.
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, beans to gain essential vitamins and minerals. A quality multivitamin can support the additional nutrients needed in times of stress.
- Quality sources of protein to support the production of neurotransmitters which are in high demand in times of stress.
- Connect. We live in a world of technology that enables us to be socially close whilst being physically distanced.
If you would like guidance and support working through the next few months or feel some of these symptoms resonate with you, I can help.