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Chronic Stress Makes Your Immune System Less Sensitive, Science Finds

Chronic Stress Makes Your Immune System Less Sensitive, Science Finds

 Are you stressed out?

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming down with something.

Stress is what happens to your body when it senses a threat. Your nervous system releases a flood of stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol that ready the body for emergency action. You may feel your heart pounding, your muscles tense, and your breath quicken. These physical changes increase your stamina, strength, and speed up your reaction time. This is known as “fight or flight,” and is your body’s way of protecting you.

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The effects of stress on your immune system

Normal stressors can help you perform under pressure, keep you alert and on your toes, and keep you safe when in danger. When stress reaches beyond your comfort zone, it stops being helpful and becomes overwhelming, damaging your mood and relationships. It can also damage your mental and physical health.

The body cannot always distinguish between normal daily stressors and life-threatening, or traumatic events. Stressing over bills, an argument, or being late to work can cause your body to react as if you’ve become face-to-face with a bear. When you repeatedly experience the fight-or-flight stress response, your health can pay the price. Stress can shut down your immune system, increasing your risk of getting sick.

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The immune system is suppressed when the stress hormone or cortisol levels are elevated. An individual experiencing severe prolonged emotional stress for example, is exhausted. Their adrenals and thyroids are fatigued. The minerals needed for the immune system to function are depleted. As your immune system weakens, the production of immune system cells is stopped, leading you to get sick a lot easier.

Tips to manage stress

One way to protect yourself from getting sick is to learn how to manage stress. There are many things you can do when you find yourself stressed out.

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Rhythmic exercises

You can do this right now to start to feel better. Activities that involve moving both your arms and legs are quite effective at managing stress. Rhythmic exercises, such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are great especially if you can focus your attention on the physical sensations your body feels as you move. Exercise can help loosen you up and put the stressor behind you.

Get together with others

There is something about connecting with another human that can trigger stress-relieving hormones. When you’re feeling uncomfortable, anxious, or unsafe, even a brief exchange of kind words or a smile with someone, can calm and soothe your nervous system. Helping others can also offer stress-reducing pleasure, as well as giving you an opportunity to expand your social circle.

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Use one or more of your senses

A great way to relieve stress quickly is to use one or more of your senses: sight, taste, smell, touch, and sound.  Find the sensory input that works best for you. For some, listening to an energetic song makes them feel calm, others might enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass, or petting a fluffy cat. Try it out and find the sensory input that works best for you.

Reduce sugar and processed foods

Sugar and processed foods can make us more stressed because they are absorbed by the body too quickly, which makes our blood sugar levels unstable. When it’s unstable, we get irritated more easily. Try whole foods and replace your soft drinks with a cup of herbal tea!

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Melissa Atkinson

Freelance writer

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

How to Overcome Boredom

How to Overcome Boredom

Have you ever been bored? Restless? Fidgety? In need of some inspiration?

I have a theory on boredom. I believe that the rate of boredom has increased alongside the pace of technology.

If you think about it, technology has provided us with mobile phones, laptops, Ipads, device after device – all to ultimately fix one problem: boredom.

What is Boredom?

We have become a global nation that feeds on entertainment. We associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People now do not know how to sit still, and we feel guilty when we are not doing anything. Today, inactivity has become the ultimate sin.

You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety and stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration and feeds procrastination.

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It’s a desire to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’ – it’s a desire for sensory stimulation. What it boils down to is a lack of focus.

If you think about those times when you’re bored, it’s usually because you did not know what to do. So, indecision also plays a big part.

When we are focused on what’s important to us and what we want to achieve, it’s pretty hard to be bored. So, one answer to boredom is to become focused on what you want.

Sometimes It’s Good to Be Bored

If boredom is a desire for sensory stimulation – then what’s the opposite of that? To be content with no stimulation – in other words – to enjoy stillness.

Sometimes, it’s not boredom itself that causes the frustration but the resistance to doing nothing.

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Think about it. What would happen if you were to ‘let go’ of the desire to be entertained? You wouldn’t be bored anymore, and you will feel more relaxed!

In my experience, it’s often the most obvious, simplistic solutions that are the most powerful in life. So, when you’re bored, the easiest way to combat this is to enjoy it.

It may sound weird but think of ‘boredom’ as a form of ‘relaxation’. It’s a break from the constant stimulation that 21st-century living provides – constant TVs, mobile phones, radios, internet, emails, phone calls, etc.

Who knows, maybe ‘boredom’ is actually good for us?

Next time you’re ‘feeling bored’ instead of feeding the frustration by frantically looking for something to do, maybe you can sit back, relax, and savor the feeling of having nothing to do.

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In this article, I’ll share with you my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom.

3-Step Strategy to Overcome Boredom

1. Get Focused

Instead of chasing sensory stimulation at random, focus on what’s really important to you. Focusing on something important helps prevent boredom because it forces you to utilize your time productively.

You should ask yourself: what would make good use of your time? What could you be doing that would contribute to your major goals in life?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend some time in quiet contemplation considering what’s important to you.
  • Start that creative project you’ve been talking about for the last few weeks.
  • Brainstorm: think of some ideas for new innovative products or businesses.

2. Kill Procrastination

Boredom is useful in some ways because it gives you the energy and time to do things. It is only a problem if you let it. But if you use it to motivate yourself to be productive, then you can more easily overcome boredom.

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So, the next time you’re bored, why not put this good energy to use by ticking off those things that you have been meaning to get done but have been too busy to finish? This also presents a great time for you to clear your to-do list.

Here are some ideas:

  • Do some exercise.
  • Read a book.
  • Learn something new.
  • Call a friend.
  • Get creative (draw, paint, sculpt, create music, write).
  • Do a spring cleaning.
  • Wash the car.
  • Renovate the house.
  • Re-arrange the furniture.
  • Write your shopping list.
  • Water the plants.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Sort out your mail & email.
  • De-clutter (clear out that wardrobe).

3. Enjoy Boredom

If none of the above solutions work, then you can try a different approach. Don’t give in to boredom and instead choose to enjoy it. This doesn’t mean allowing yourself to waste your time being bored. Instead, think of it as your time to relax and re-energize, which will help you be more productive the next time you work.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to be constantly doing things to be productive. In fact, research has shown that people are more productive when they take periods of rest to recharge.[1] Taking breaks once in a while helps boost your performance and can help make you feel more motivated.

So, take some time to relax. You never know, you might even like it.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to overcome boredom may be difficult at the beginning, but it can be easier if you make use of some techniques. You can start with my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom and work your way from there. So, ready your mind and make use of these tips, and you will be overcoming boredom in no time.

More Tips on Overcoming Boredom

Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

Reference

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