Stress and Your Immune System – How to Decompress

Living with ongoing stress makes us more susceptible to illness and disease because when we are stressed, the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases the stress hormone corticosteroid that not only gets us ready for emergency situations but also depresses our immune system at the same time. Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illness and disease, including cancer and heart disease.

The effects of stress on the body progressively build up over time until, even day-to-day activities can eventually lead to more serious health issues. So it’s important to be mindful of the daily stress in our lives, and practice some mind-body exercises that help reverse feeling stressed. Here are some examples of ways to decompress and relax when the world around you feels chaotic.

Stay Social

Even in the current situation where many of us are isolating and quaratining ourselves to avoid infection, it is still important to maintain relationships. Call or text with friends and family. It can be relieving just to know that many of us are going through the same stresses and worries right now. Use video conferencing applications like Facetime and Zoom.


The connection between the mind and body can be strengthened by practicing specific relaxation exercises such as meditation and guided imagery. There are many free guided meditations on Youtube to help you get started in these relaxing techniques.

Positive Thinking

There is strong evidence showing how people who tell themselves they are doing better actually do better than those who have the same physical condition but are not as positive. Research also suggests that anxiety and negative thinking affect the immune system in an adverse way.

Take Five

It is important to give yourself breaks from time to time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stop what you are doing, take some deep breaths, stretch, take your mind off of things. Taking a quick break from work, children, the news can help you keep from spiralling in the wrong direction. Remember – as bad as things might feel, this too shall pass.


There is no reason you shouldn’t get your blood pumping with a solo exercise activity. Keeping your distance from others is easy if you’re up at the crack of dawn, or a night owl. Any kind of exercise will help reduce your stress levels. Staying active helps to boost your mood, and is a great way to keep busy if you’re off from work at the moment.

Log Off

Turn off the TV, put your phone down and stop scrolling. At least an hour before bed take a break from the news and social media. You don’t need to know the latest numbers of infections or details about coronavirus right before you go to sleep. This is the time to think positive, enjoy a book, or simply do some breathing exercises to decompress.

Proper Sleep

Stress often impacts on sleep quality and restfulness. Stress and a lack of sleep both have an impact on physical and mental health. Experts recommend that people aim for 7–9 hours of sleep a night, depending on their age and other factors. Stick to a healthy routine and try to get solid, quality sleep every night. Research has shown that restful sleep improves a wide range of body processes. These include muscle repair and mental tasks, such as concentration.

Stay Hydrated

Sip your stress away – If you’re looking for a simple way to unwind from your stress, drink a glass of water. Sound too easy? The link between water and stress reduction is well documented. All of our organs, including our brains, need water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t running properly and that can lead to stress.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Foods can help reduce stress in many ways. Healthy comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein helps counter the impact of stress.  This helps to build the immune system and lower blood pressure.

Seek Help

If your anxiety levels are very high and you need help, it may be worth seeking advice from a mental health professional. There are many apps available online that allow patients to speak safely and securely over the phone or video with mental health experts. Find one that works for you if you need someone to talk to during these times.

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