How Stress Impacts Your Immunity - Glow Bar London

August 26, 2022 5 min read

How Stress Impacts Your Immunity

Stress is emotional tension when we face a threat. Read this article to know more about the relationship between stress, lymphocytes, and the immune system. You will also read about the other ways stress can cause lower stress and how to manage stress and boost immunity.

Stress is emotional tension caused by our reaction to our daily challenges, expectations, frustrations, and threats. It is impossible to control stress as it happens subconsciously. Any therapy that offers to control stress cannot work. Any treatment seeks to control how we react to stress and how to control our reactions. It is worth noting that stress does not always harm the body as it sometimes does help in boosting our immunity. Whether stress is good or bad is based on frequency. Some stress may be good, but too much stress will have an impact on immunity in the following ways;

The Relationship Between Stress, Lymphocytes, and the Immune System

When the body undergoes stress, the person may get sweat, and the heart may beat faster. They may also feel dizzy and might be unconscious. The changes in body activities are meant to keep the person alert in what is known as the “fight or flight” mode. During stress, the body prepares itself to face a threat, so some physiological mechanisms occur inside our body, affecting all the organs. During stress, the body produces a hormone known as cortisol which eventually compromises your immunity by reducing the amount of the disease-fighting cells known as white blood cells. The phenomenon may be explained by the fact that the blood vessels will constrict for that moment so that less blood will flow in the body. White blood cells will also be fewer. The body mechanisms will be normal after the stress. The effect of cortisol on the immune system occasionally will boost your immune system because it keeps your body alert. Still, if you are suffering from chronic stress, the body stays alert throughout, which means that cortisol is produced more frequently, affecting your immunity. Therefore, in summary, cortisol suppresses the immunity undergoing chronic

Signs of Low Immunity

People may not be conscious of the ailments they experience caused by stress since it cannot be controlled. Low immunity implies the body is not as strong as it should be because the white blood cells are fewer than required to fight illnesses effectively. The following are some signs of low immunity that may be caused by stress;

  • Catching cold frequently
  • Wounds do not heal
  • Frequent gut issues
  • Fatigue

Other Ways That Stress Can Lower Immunity

The effect of stress on the body resulting in low immunity may be physiological or indirectly connected with stress. For example;

Poor Eating Habits

Diet affects immunity because the body needs nutrients to fight off diseases. , Your immunity will be compromised because the body needs the nutrients to counter pathogens. You skip meals or eat too little food if you do not eat a balanced diet.

Insomnia

Sleeping habits are directly related to immunity. Barutou et al. (2021) stated that insomnia is related to stress. However,  if you cannot get good sleep, you keep the body alert which means the body does not rest enough to relax the hormones. When sleeplessness becomes chronic, so do your stress levels, which directly impact immunity.

Inactivity

A sedentary lifestyle is always blamed for low immunity. Stressed people are likely to be physically inactive. When you exercise, the body releases endorphins, also known as feel-good hormones, improving your mood. Lack of activity affects the hormones and lymphocytes and manifests as low immunity.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are the conditions that affect a person’s eating habits and are more serious than skipping meals as they are psychological. Some of the disorders are bulimia, where the person feels disgusted after having a meal and therefore induces vomiting. Obesity is when the person overeats, or anorexia nervosa, which does not want to eat. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are disorders in which the person is stressed about gaining weight. Your body will also lack sufficient nutrients when you have an eating disorder. The ailments you may suffer from can affect the functioning of the internal organs, affecting your general health.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Using drugs and alcohol is a common habit among people escaping from the reality of their stressors. When treating stress, the person must avoid drugs and alcohol because they are addictive and eventually have to find ways to treat the addiction, stress, and an ailment caused by low immunity. Stanton (2020) stated that people use drugs and alcohol to cope with stress Drugs and alcohol affect the person’s immunity because when under the influence, it is difficult to focus on habits that will boost your immunity, such as having a proper diet. Drugs and alcohol cause poor judgment.

How to Manage Stress and Boost Immunity

The ailments you will suffer from for not having immunity will be treated if you can manage stress and boost your immunity. Boosting your immunity without managing the stress will also be an exercise in futility, as stress is the root of the problem. The following are the tips that you can follow to manage stress and therefore boost immunity;

Seek a Doctor’s Opinion

It is common for diseases to share symptoms, and sometimes self-medication fails because you can worsen an ailment. Seek the doctor’s opinion for the following reasons;

  • To be sure about the cause of the ailment
  • The doctor will give you the medication you need to treat the ailment
  • The doctor can recommend the best therapy for stress.

Exercise

Exercise is important for both your emotional and physical well-being. It will also allow the proper flow of blood because it boosts immunity. However, like everything else you may do to boost immunity, exercise will only be good if done moderately as over-exercising worsens your immunity. According to Seo (2018), exercise helps alleviate stress.

Seek Therapy

Seek some therapy to manage the stress and even control your body’s reaction during stress. Meditation and professional counseling are some therapies that you may consider. Huberty (2019) observed that meditation is useful in treating stress.

Conclusion

Sometimes our immunity might be low because of the stressors that we have encountered. The body undergoes a series of reactions during stress that have a direct impact on our immunity. You will know that your immunity is low if wounds do not heal fast, you have frequent colds, fatigue, and gut problems. Some other causes of stress that also cause low immunity include poor diet habits, lack of exercise, and insomnia. Boosting your immunity involves having a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. You should not self-medicate when managing stress and trying or treat ailments caused by low immunity as you may worsen the condition.

References

Barutcu Atas, D., Aydin Sunbul, E., Velioglu, A., & Tuglular, S. (2021). The Association Between Perceived Stress And Sleep Quality, Insomnia, Anxiety And Depression In Kidney Transplant Recipients During The Covid-19 Pandemic. Plus One, 16(3), E0248117.

Huberty, J., Green, J., Glissmann, C., Larkey, L., Puzia, M., & Lee, C. (2019). Efficacy Of The Mindfulness Meditation Mobile App “Calm” To Reduce Stress Among College Students: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Mhealth And Uhealth, 7(6), E14273.

Seo, J. H. (2018). Treadmill Exercise Alleviates Stress-Induced Anxiety-Like Behaviors In Rats—Journal Of Exercise Rehabilitation, 14(5), 724.

Stanton, R., To, Q. G., Khalesi, S., Williams, S. L., Alley, S. J., Thwaite, T. L., ... & Vandelanotte, C. (2020). Depression, Anxiety, And Stress During COVID-19: Associations With Changes In Physical Activity, Sleep, Tobacco, And Alcohol Use In Australian Adults. International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health, 17(11), 4065.