This Stress Awareness Month, we’re exploring the impact that physical and mental stress can have on your immune system.
April is Stress Awareness Month; a good time for us all to reflect on our own mental wellbeing and how we are coping day-to-day after such a long period spent out of our comfort zones. To say that the past year has been a stressful one would be an understatement, with the COVID-19 crisis causing isolation, business closures, school closures, travel restrictions and more – all on top of fears regarding our own health and that of those around us.
So it’s no surprise to learn that stress levels soared in the UK during lockdown, with mental health concerns like anxiety and depression also rising.
This is something of a dangerous cycle. Increased stress is well known for having a negative impact on your immune system. To compound this issue, the potential for further deterioration in physical health can then result even more elevated stress levels.
What impact can stress have on your immune system?
While we tend to see stress as a mental health concern and immunity issues as physical health concerns, it is vital that we acknowledge that the wellbeing of mind and body are closely, and in fact intrinsically linked. Your mood and emotions can have a direct impact on your physical wellbeing.
Stress is no exception. According to the NHS, stress is associated with physical health concerns such as headaches, dizziness, muscle tension, pain, stomach problems, chest pains and even sexual problems. It can also impact your body’s hormone release, making it more difficult to protect against oncoming illnesses.
Studies have confirmed this. Research by the John Hopkins School of Medicine found that, in older adults in their early 70s, those with mild depression had weaker lymphocyte-T cell responses to two mitogens, which model how the body responses to viruses. As a result, their immune systems suffered.
Another study by the Carnegie Mellon University found that social isolation, loneliness and stress could each independently weaken the immunity of first-year students.
Dealing with stress can improve your immune system, and vice versa
Because your physical and mental health are so connected, dealing with your stress can help to improve your immune function in the long run. Practicing mindfulness with meditation, physical exercise, walking and yoga can help to alleviate stress, as can dealing with the root of your concerns or talking to someone – whether that’s a family member, a friend, or a medical professional.
The same is also true in reverse. Looking after your immune system can help to alleviate stress, because illness can all too easily become another source of anxiety and pressure in your life. Caring for your immune system is key to promoting good health in the long run.
How to support your immune system
There are several key lifestyle changes you can make in order to support healthy immune system function, including getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, following a healthy diet and avoiding unhealthy activities like smoking and drinking excess amounts of alcohol.
Certain vitamins are associated with immune system support, including vitamins B12 and D3. Both of these nutrients can be found in Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® Immunity+ supplements, alongside organic seaweed. This allows our capsules to not only support healthy immune function, but to also contribute to thyroid health, reduction in tiredness, metabolism, cognitive function, and normal bone and muscle function.
While no food or supplement can alleviate the strains and pressures of daily life, knowing that you are addressing your nutritional needs can at least provide some peace of mind that you are taking self care seriously.Discover Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® Immunity+ supplements for yourself by clicking here. You can even subscribe to regular orders so you never run out, and save 15% every time you buy!