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Understanding the Impact of Chronic Stress on the Immune System May 14, 2019

Westbury, North Hempstead
Understanding the Impact of Chronic Stress on the Immune System, North Hempstead, New York

Stress is an inevitable part of life. However, if you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed, it could have a serious impact on your overall health. In fact, chronic stress can weaken the immune system which, in turn, will make the body more vulnerable to diseases. Here is why developing effective coping mechanisms is essential for maintaining optimal health. 

The Physical Impact of Chronic Stress

Stress originally developed as the body’s response to life-threatening stimuli. As soon as you perceive a potential threat, your body will subconsciously respond by kicking into fight-or-flight mode. This includes elevating blood pressure, increasing heart rate, and stimulating the production of cortisol, which is a hormone that essentially boosts energy by temporarily halting nonessential functions like those of the immune system and digestive tract. In other words, too much stress will leave you constantly on edge while threatening your immunity—and, subsequently, your general well-being—in the process. 

The Emotional Impact of Chronic Stress

immune systemLiving in a constant state of high alertness will affect your mental state over time. For example, there is a link between elevated cortisol and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). When cortisol prompts the fight-or-flight response in the brain, it activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and hyperactivity of the HPA is directly responsible for anxiety

There is also a link between anxiety disorders and impaired immune function. Researchers have found excessive worrying can actually suppress the immune system. In other words, even after a threat has dissipated, the anxiety left in its wake could still compromise your immunity. 

Ways to Alleviate Stress & Boost the Immune System

If you often feel overwhelmed, it may be reassuring to know relieving stress is simple—and doing so will boost your immune system in the process. First, evaluate your lifestyle. Are you eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting quality sleep? If not, try to eat more leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach for a boost of iron and work out at least 30 minutes a day. This could ultimately boost your mental health and strengthen immunity along the way.

Other effective ways to relieve stress include meditation, massage therapy, yoga, and aromatherapy. Deep breathing, listening to soothing music, playing with pets, and spending time with loved ones can also help eliminate anxiety and improve your general sense of well-being. 

 

 

If you’re worried about the health of your immune system, turn to the knowledgeable team at Integrative Medicine of New York, PLLC. Located in Waterbury, NY, this facility is proud to provide unparalleled care for individuals who are living with allergies, cancers, and auto-immune disorders. Treating patients across Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as New York City, their services include allergy immunology, intravenous therapy, and preventive medicine. To learn more about the practice’s impressive 35-year history, visit their website. To make an appointment with one of their compassionate providers call (516) 759-4200. 

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