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8 Natural Ways to Reduce Stress and Strengthen Your Immune System

8 Natural Ways to Reduce Stress and Strengthen Your Immune System

Stress seems to have become a constant factor in today’s fast-paced society.

If left unchecked, it can

wreak havoc upon our health. Learning how to effectively manage stress

can mean the difference between

being robust and full of life, or becoming susceptible to illness and disease.

Stress can weaken the

immune system and accelerate the aging process. The ability to relax and

rejuvenate promotes wellness, vitality and longevity.

A healthy immune system regulates our body’s healing process and protects

it against infections and

diseases. When stress compromises our immune function, it can result in

colds, flu, fatigue,

cardiovascular disorders and premature aging. Stress increases heart rate,

blood pressure, glucose

levels, adrenaline, cortisol, free radicals and oxidative damage. This

initiates the “fight or flight”

response, places undue strain upon the heart, and can also increase the

feelings of anxiety and depression.

Protecting the immune system is a vital part of living longer, feeling

younger and being healthy. Here

are ten natural healthy ways to reduce stress, boost your immune system

and slow down the hands of time.

Walking and Physical Activity (dancing, gardening, cycling, swimming,

weight-lifting, etc.).

Regular exercise and physical activity strengthens your immune system,

cardiovascular

system, heart, muscles and bones. It also stimulates the release of

endorphins, improves mental

functioning, concentration/attention and cognitive performance, and

lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, cortisol and other stress hormones.

Three 10-minute workout sessions during the day are just as

effective as one 30-minute workout, and a lot easier to fit into a busy

schedule.

Yoga and Stretching. The slow movements and controlled postures of yoga

improves muscle

strength, flexibility, range of motion, balance, breathing, blood circulation

and promotes mental focus,

clarity and calmness. Stretching also reduces mental and physical stress,

tension and anxiety, promotes

good sleep, lowers blood pressure and slows down your heart rate.

Hand Hygiene. The most effective measure in preventing the spread of

microorganisms that cause

infections is good hand hygiene. Washing your hands with soap and water

as soon as you come home, and

always before you eat, greatly reduces your exposure to bacterial and viral

infections. In case you

cannot wash with soap and water when you are away from home, carry

some alcohol-based hand wipes with

you to control microbial exposure and transmission.

Laughter and Humor. There is truth to the saying that laughter is the best

medicine. Laughing

reduces stress hormones like adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol. It also

benefits your immune system

by increasing the number and activity of Natural Killer T-cells. These cells

act as the first line of

defense against viral attacks and damaged cells. Find the humor in things

and engage in activities that

make you laugh to increase your immune function and disease resistance.

High Nutrient Diet. Eat foods rich in antioxidants (like vitamins A, C, E and

lycopene), omega-3

fatty acids, and folate. Antioxidants fight and neutralize free radicals, which

are molecules that

damage cells and cause heart disease, cancer and premature aging. Omega-

3 fatty acids (a polyunsaturated

fat) have anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular-enhancing and immune-

regulating properties. It is helpful in

preventing and controlling high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease,

stroke, cancer, diabetes,

depression, inflammatory and auto-immune disorders. Folate prevents age-related cognitive decline,

ity (important as we age and when pregnant) and promotes healthy red

blood cells. Excellent food sources for these nutrients are as follows.

Antioxidants – pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, grapefruit (red and

pink),

blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, peppers (red

and green), tomatoes, broccoli,

sunflower seeds, almonds and olive oil.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – ground flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, soybeans and

pumpkin seeds.

Folate – dark green leafy vegetables (turnip greens, mustard greens,

spinach, romaine lettuce, collard greens, etc.), beans, legumes, asparagus,

Brussels sprouts, beets and okra.

Music. Listening to your favorite music is a great method of reducing stress

and relieving anxiety. Your individual preference in music determines

which types of soothing sounds will best reduce your tension, blood

pressure, and promote feelings of tranquility. Pay attention to how you feel

when you hear a particular song or genre of music, and keep listening to

the ones that produce a relaxing effect.

Sleep. Getting enough sound sleep has a profound impact on your stress

levels, immune function and disease resistance. A chronic lack of sleep can

leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, forgetful, accident-prone, and have

difficulty concentrating or coping with life’s daily aggravations. Long-term

sleep loss can also result in heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression,

and anxiety. Sleep time is when your body and immune system do most of

its repairs and rejuvenation. Strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Remember rest and relaxation go hand in hand.

Positive Thinking. Optimism can counteract the negative impact stress,

tension and anxiety has on your immune system and well-being. Often it is

how you perceive things that determine if you get overwhelmed, both

mentally and physically. Having a positive attitude, finding the good in what

life throws your way and looking at the bright side of things enhances your

ability to effectively manage stress.

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