As promised in my last blog, we are going to break down some of the unconventional reasons for autoimmune diseases. Often, chronic illness is approached from the standpoint of “how can we fix it”. Is there a prescription to help ease the pain? And while I’m all for scripts when used for temporary relief, I’m a firm believer in getting to the sources if you truly want to help yourself reverse an illness. As we look at the first culprit of autoimmune, stress – yes, there are medications to reduce our symptoms to stress but what if there were some things you could do to help yourself with mange your response to stress? Several studies have linked high levels of stress with autoimmune disease, heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, hormone imbalances in addition to a multitude of other diseases.
Physiologically, our bodies react to a stressor with the “fight, flight or freeze” response, a series of chemical reactions involving a cascade of hormonal changes. We can table that chat for another day because it’s so broad! But for now, we know that chronic stress can have negative impacts on just about every system and organ in the body. With sustained stress, the body’s tissues — including immune cells — can become less sensitive to the controlling effects of cortisol, our main stress hormone. Reducing cortisol’s ability to manage the inflammatory response leading to uncontrolled inflammation, which is associated with the onset and progression of autoimmune disorders as mentioned in my previous blog, Unconventional Reasons for Autoimmune Disease. Below are some ways to strengthen your emotional well-being:
1. Make Sleep a Priority. A good night’s sleep is imperative for helping our bodies and brains repair, reorganize, reset, restore and regenerate.
2. Deep, Slow Mindful Breaths. Significantly increase feelings of relaxation compared with baseline breathing, as well as increase heart rate variability (HRV), an important indicator of health and resilience.
3. Move more. You don’t have to be a gym rat to make this happen. Simply walking to the mailbox is s a start.
4. Spend Time in Nature. Research also confirms that spending time in nature has a long list of health benefits including lowered cortisol, reduced inflammation, improved immune function, decreased feelings of depression and anxiety, and even improved memory.
5. Meditate. The science is definitely in on meditation as a means to tame mind chatter by engaging the “relaxation response,” the counterbalance to the fight-or-flight stress response. Meditation has been shown in numerous studies to decrease stress, anxiety, depression, increase resilience and empathy, increase the size of your brain, and produce beneficial and immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function.
6. Cultivate Social Connections. Fortunately, we can change our situation and our perceptions. Strong social connections have been shown to strengthen the immune system, help people recover from disease faster, help to lower levels of anxiety and depression, and can lead to a 50 percent greater chance of longevity. Community is valued!
7. Forgiveness. Shew, big topic, right! One most of us struggle with. Forgiveness can be defined as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. It does not mean you must forget, deny or excuse the behavior; it just means that you free yourself of deeply held negative feelings.
Whether or not you have an autoimmune condition, addressing stress in your life is hands down one of the best ways to improve your health outcomes. Take heart in knowing that when you proactively engage the relaxation response, you improve your immunity, repair damaged tissue, and become better able to deal with life’s inevitable stressors.
Change is hard! What if you had a strategy, personalized to meet your needs and fit your lifestyle, from a trained healthcare expert who's been where you are and who will empower you to become all you want to be? NOW, that would be EASY. Click here to schedule your free consultation.