Studies have shown that stress weakens the immune system and allows your body to become more prone to illnesses and slow recoveries. However, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), managing your stress can not only benefit your day-to-day health but can also help you strengthen your immune system.
Here are five ways you can boost your immune system in times of stress.
Manage Your Stress
As a college student, it is normal to feel stressed. If you aren't careful you can end up feeling overwhelmed by upcoming exams, difficult courses or meeting new people. If you can dentify your stressors and learn how to manage them, your stress won't dominate your life. Stress management is a key aspect in maintaining a healthy immune system. Some common ways to cope with stress include:
- Writing in a journal
- Practicing meditation
- Staying positive
- Managing time effectively
- Taking time for yourself
Exercise is another healthy habit that not only helps you manage stress. When you exercise, you create hormones like endorphins which will make you feel less stressed. Excercise also improves your overall cardiovascular health and immunity. Regular exercise increases your body’s production of antibodies and T-cells which fight off infection, disease and other bad bacteria. By increasing the heart rate during exercise it causes a boost in your immune system.
Eat and Drink Healthy
Staying hydrated and having enough to eat is a great way to stay healthy! A lack of hydration or nutrients increases stress and lowers your body’s ability to fight off illnesses. Make sure you’re drinking the appropriate amount of water, about eight glasses a day, to avoid dehydration, tiredness and stress.
Including foods high in nutrients, such as antioxidants and iron, in your diet provide your body with the tools needed to create antibodies and hormones crucial to the immune system. Some foods known to boost your body’s immunity include:
- Citrus fruits
Adults should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but stress can often make it difficult, causing insomnia or sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that sleep improves immune system health through the production of T-cells and other health-promoting hormones.
Some tips to help you get a full night’s rest include:
- Unwind before bed
- Set a consistent bedtime
- Create a sleep diary
- Eat a balanced diet
- Stay off of elctronics close to bedtime
- Exercise regularly
Hang out with close friends
Taking the time to socialize can indirectly strengthen your body’s immunity. A good friend group can act as a motivator to practice healthy behavior such as going on a jog as a group or having regular video calls.
Friends can also act as a buffer during times of stress by acting as a support system or distracting you from any negative thoughts.
When you practice good health habits, it’s easier to handle your course load and the other parts of your busy life.