Believe it or not, stress serves a purpose: It’s a motivating force that can help us rise to the occasion in any difficult situation we’re facing. When we face a stressful moment, our body produces a greater amount of two hormones: Adrenaline gives us a boost of energy, and cortisol helps boost our immunity.
If that stress becomes chronic, though, it begins having a negative effect on the immune system. Dr. Kimberly Shine in Pasadena, California, is an expert at helping patients deal with this kind of stress so they can live full, healthy lives.
Read on to learn why Dr. Shine is so invested in reducing your stress.
How stress negatively impacts your immunity
Once your stress levels stay up for a few days, the increased levels of cortisol in your body begin causing problems. Your body gets used to that level of cortisol, which opens you up to more inflammation. A greater amount of cortisol also decreases the amount of lymphocytes in your body — these are the white blood cells designed to help you fight off infection. The fewer lymphocytes you have, the more vulnerable you are to viruses and sickness. Studies have also shown that stress can increase the time needed for wounds to heal.
Long-term stress can also lead to depression, anxiety, and high levels of inflammation, opening up your body to autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and more. You’re also at greater risk for heart problems and diabetes. Some experts say stress causes up to 90% of all illnesses.
How you can reduce your stress
Now that you know how important it is to avoid stress, how can you reduce the level of stress in your life? The answer depends on exactly why you’re stressed, but a few strategies have proven helpful for many:
Meditation and mindfulness
Meditating a few times a week is highly effective in lowering your stress, reducing your cortisol levels, and reducing inflammation. Just take 10-15 minutes and clear your mind; here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Yoga and exercise
Doing yoga and getting your body moving also reduces your cortisol levels and your inflammation. Getting some fresh air and making yourself move around is good for your mood as well.
Learn to say no
A lot of stress comes into our lives because we take on too many activities. Sit down and decide which things are most important to you and your family, and then focus your energy on those things. When something else comes along, don’t be afraid to say no. You have to build time into your life to rest; if you don’t, your stress levels go right back up.
If you would like more help in fighting stress and building better functional health, contact Dr. Shine’s office today to set up an initial consultation. She’ll put her expertise to work in helping you build a better life!