Scientists once believed that the mind and the body were separate, and that one didn’t influence the other. Today, we know that isn’t the case. Understanding how your mind affects your immune system is key to staying healthy.
Your stress levels and general mental state can have profound effects on the efficacy of your immune system. Your immune system doesn’t just deal with illnesses like the flu or the common cold.
Your immune system also deals with cancerous cells on a daily basis. Many otherwise healthy older people die of pneumonia due to a less effective immune system. Your immune system can affect your longevity.
How Your Mind Affects Your Immune System: The Main Ways
Cortisol is an enemy of the immune system. During times of stress, the level of cortisol rises in the body. The body recognizes this increase as an indicator of the fight or flight response and responds by limiting other body functions, including the immune system.
Prolonged stress keeps the immune system in a compromised state, which increases the likelihood of getting sick.
Positive social interaction has the opposite effect. Enjoying time with others has been shown to lower stress hormones and boost immune activity for several hours afterward. Get out and enjoy time with other people.
Listening to relaxing music or getting a massage is also beneficial. Anything that’s relaxing, without being harmful, seems to have a positive impact on immune function.
Make a list of the activities that you find relaxing. Try to do a few of the items on your list each day. Ensure that you find a few items you can do in the car and at work.
Stress has also been shown to increase the risk of developing immune-based diseases. These include arthritis, psoriasis, eczema, asthma, and lupus. In time, it’s believed that science will show that many other diseases are influenced by stress.
Laughter has a powerful impact on immune function. Record the shows that make you laugh and try to watch one each day. Read a few jokes from a book or online during your breaks at work. Spend time with funny people! You’ll get the benefit of positive social interaction and laughter.
Practice gratitude. Giving yourself a little reminder of the great things in your life will boost your mood and your ability to fight disease. This is a quick exercise that can turn your mindset around quickly.
Use positive affirmations to enhance your mood. Positive thoughts lead to positive feelings. Repeat positive affirmations on a regular basis, especially during periods of stress. Keep your mind occupied with something positive. Make a list of positive affirmations that resonate with you.
Be successful. Experience success by setting goals you can reach. Big, audacious goals are great, but be sure to have a few easier goals, too. Be happy with your small successes. Your immune system will reward you, too.
Exercise patience. Impatience creates stress. Relax and make good use of the extra time. The time will pass regardless of how you spend it. Take advantage of it and stay calm.
Be happy! What makes you happy? Figure it out and spend more time doing it. Read, knit, dance, meditate, grill outdoors, and go on a picnic. These aren’t frivolous things. They make life enjoyable and keep you healthy.
Mindset and Your Immune System
Avoid underestimating the impact your mood and mindset can have on your immune system. Optimism, happiness, fun, love, and success keep your immune system in good working order. Scientists are only beginning to understand the impact of psychology on physiology. Being happy and positive doesn’t just feel good, but it also strengthens your health.