When we are stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released into our body. According to Professor Angela Clow of the University of Westminster, “cortisol has a powerful effect on the immune system.” At night when we rest, our immune system cells attack bacteria and viruses, and fight against cancer progression. During the day, our immune system fights more immediate risks. With chronic stress and a continued release of cortisol, our immune system can actually turn off and stop working!
The link between stress and its effect on our immune system was first identified by scientists from Ohio State University by analyzing puncture wound healing times in dementia caregivers. With the stress involved in continued care for a dementia patient, the scientists found their wounds took 24% longer to heal than the “control” participants in the study who were not subject to chronic stressful situations.
Our natural circadian rhythm, which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle is also affected by cortisol. During the daytime – cortisol is good for us because it actually gives our brain a boost! However, at nighttime, it can have a negative effect on our sleep patterns and keep us awake. Over time, this has an overall negative effect on our health since our internal clock doesn’t know what time it is!
The best stress reliever is physical activity! However, there are other ways to reduce stress like listening to music, looking at artwork, reading a book, confiding in a loved one or just doing something you love! It’s not a “one size fits all” solution – so do what makes you happy and try to avoid too much stress in your life.
If you feel like you need some extra help with managing your stress and energy levels, give us a call at Edge – (832)843-7517.
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