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Can stress make your immune system weaker?

on February 16, 2022

Are you feeling stressed out? You're not alone. Many people are feeling stressed because of the current circumstances. You might find yourself needing to adjust to sudden changes, accept a "new normal" and face the uncertainty of not knowing when things will change. 

Did you know? Stress can have a big impact on your immune system!

When you are stressed, it can stop your immune system from working well. Making it harder for you to fight off sickness when we get it. And when you  already sick, stress can make it worse. 


How does stress impact your immune system? 

Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Most people experience stress at some point in their lives. Stress can last for a short time, like before a final exam, or for a long time, like when you're taking care of someone who is sick.  

When you experience a stressful event, your body sends defence signals to the endocrine system. This system responds by releasing different hormones that help you prepare for the emergency. However, these hormones also have negative effects on your immune system. One particular hormone is cortisol. 

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. When released into the bloodstream, cortisol can help the body respond to danger or stress. It can also help increase the body’s metabolism of glucose, control blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. Cortisol is also needed for the fight or flight response, which is a healthy, natural response to danger. The amount of cortisol produced is highly regulated by your body to ensure the balance is correct. When you are persistently stressed, excess cortisol can be released into your body. If elevated for a long time, cortisol can lead to the immune system becoming resistant. This means that there will be more cortisol and inflammatory cytokines, which will make the immune system less effective. 

Stress can also have an indirect effect on your immune system by triggering unhealthy coping strategies to reduce stress, such as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. 

How can you try and reduce your stress levels? 



Make time to do the things you love 
 

We all have favourite people or activities that do more than just provide entertainment. They recharge us and restore the energy needed to combat life’s stresses. It is important to make the time to fill your empty well on a regular basis. 

Get More Sleep 

A good quality sleep can have an array of health benefits. It is when we’re asleep that our body repairs and rejuvenates. Aim for at least 8 hours and try to get to sleep before midnight. 

Reduce your Caffeine Intake 

Caffeine stimulates production of stress hormones, mainly cortisol, which gives you a temporary boost in energy levels. However it can also contribute to levels of stress and insomnia in some people, further depleting tired adrenals. Swap your morning coffee for a caffeine-free herbal tea instead.  



Support your body with adaptogens 
 

Adaptogens are herbs which aid in increasing resistance to physical, environmental, emotional or biological stressors and restore normal physiological functions of the body. They are the perfect herbs to aid in reducing the effects of adrenal fatigue while increasing energy and reducing stress. Essentially, they help your body adapt its response to stressful situations. 

So, why not set a goal to support your immune system by trying to reduce any associated stressors all year around. 

 

 

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