The literature and data on the connection between living a stressed out lifestyle and the immune system is expansive. Scientists have been investigating this link for a long time, and the implications of these studies show that stress can quite literally make us sick. We all juggle work, families, social lives, and the many daily stressors that bombard us everyday. Since we can’t pick and choose our stressors what we can do is to learn how to better cope—How you react and respond to stress in your life.
Developing healthy coping mechanisms is the key to reducing the impact of stress on your health. As an integrative health coach, I advocate for what I call my Integrative Nutrition™ Plate.
In short, it is a model which works from the outside, inward. If the outside of your plate is out of balance, the inside, your nutrition, will also be in shambles. We can’t be our best selves when we are too stressed, and thus too sick to function.
I understand the impact of stress on the outside of the plate. Your body can’t fight off toxins and infections as well when you are stressed. Studies have shown that highly stressed people have:
Stress signals our bodies to go into high gear, conserve energy, and slows the immune system.
Think: fight-or-flight. If there is something dangerous, our body needs to be alert and redirects our physical resources in order to survive.
The problem with the stress that we face in our modern world, is that we aren’t staring down a predator or wild beast… we are staring down deadlines and relationship strain which leads to chronic stress.
Do you see the issue? Stress signals our bodies to go into high gear, conserve energy, and slows the immune system. Over time chronic stress leads to low energy and a weakened immune system and this leave us open to dangerous pathogens which can make us sick.
The sad part is that a lot of people develop or utilize unhealthy methods of stress relief such as smoking or drinking excessively, or binge-eating unhealthy foods. The challenge is developing healthy ways to manage stress.
Here are a few solutions to help you create positive coping strategies:
Using positive coping mechanisms is the best way to reduce stress. There are dangers to being overburdened by stress. Your body takes the biggest hit. Make sure to prioritize your health by minimizing the damage stress does to your body.