Keep Your Immune System Strong
Did you know that stress can impact your immune system? Increased inflammation caused by stress can create an imbalance in immune cell function and affect both your mood and energy levels.
So, it’s super important to take time for your mental health throughout the day and find ways to relax. But there are a few other things you should focus on, too.
Here are a few ways to keep your immune system at its best:
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and your immune system go hand in hand. Research suggests that poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. In a study of 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night.
The CDC recommends that adults ages 16-60 get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. They offer the following habits that can help you improve your sleep health (3):
- Set a consistent bedtime. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
- Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
2. Get Moving
Try to get up and move your body throughout the day—even if it is sneaking in a 10-minute walk between meetings or daily tasks. All movement is valid! Moderate exercise can give your immune system a boost. Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems.
What’s more, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. Examples of moderate exercise are brisk walks, biking, jogging, swimming, or lifting light weights.
3. Eat More Plants
Your diet and immune system are strongly connected. Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may help you fight off sickness.
The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high level.
Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, which can reduce the duration of a cold.
4. Manage Stress Levels
Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health.
Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxiety daily. Long-term stress increases inflammation in the body and creates an imbalance in immune cell function in the body. It’s important to take time for your mental health through-out the day and find ways to relax.
Activities that may help you manage your stress include meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, praying and other mindfulness practices. You may also benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist, whether virtually or in person.