Does Stress Affect Your Immune System? Don’t Ask – It May Stress You Out.

STAT Health February 13, 2018

It’s a fact: A weak immune system can lead to serious illness. Makes sense, right? But many people don’t know that one of the major factors that leads to a depleted immune system is stress. Well, let’s change all that. And let’s all try to chill out.

Stress affects the digestive system and causes ulcers. Stressful responses increase strain on the circulatory system, which increases the heart rate. And stress affects the immune system by raising blood pressure, which leads to a myriad of illnesses and conditions.

In fact, the long-term activation of stress leads to an overexposure to cortisol and other hormones. As a result, there is greater risk of developing heart disease, digestive problems, headaches, sleep deprivation issues, weight gain, and memory loss – not to mention anxiety and depression.

The problem is that stress is a part of life. It’s not something you can control when it comes your way. You can, however, take steps to manage how stress affects the immune system.

Some stress-fighting strategies include eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and regular exercise. Easier said than done, right? You can also practice relaxation techniques. Try yoga. Meditate. Read a book or listen to music. We suggest jazz or classical – even though some can find solace in heavy metal or oldies. Disco? Not recommended. But, dancing is. Dance away the stress!

In addition to some of these strategies, we suggest fostering healthy friendships, allocating time for a hobby, and seeking professional help.

Having a sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either. Laughter is known to reduce stress. Add some funny TV shows to your rotation. The overall point is that learning to manage stress can lead to a longer and healthier life.

Fun tip: Stressed spelled backwards is – desserts. Researchers found that chocolate takes a bite out of stress. Dark chocolate specifically reduces the stress hormone cortisol.

Ever wonder why you reach for a chocolate bar when you’re stressed out? It may not just be a coincidence. Maybe your body is truly telling you something important.

Any more questions? Just ask us at STAT Health.