Why stress is the enemy of your immune system
The immune system is the body's defence mechanism for keeping us protected and safe from the bacteria, germs and viruses which we inadvertently ingest. Good health is dependent on it's proper functioning, and like so many other systems in the body it is prone to the adverse effects of stress.
The immune system, is poised, like a police force, to deal with these threatening invaders, swiftly and efficiently, to prevent them from damaging our health.
How does stress weaken the immune system
Whilst stress alone cannot make us catch a cold or flu virus, it weakens the immune system's ability to respond to invaders, leaving us more vulnerable to infection. Recovery is also liable to be slower since the immune system is suppressed in favour of dealing with stress.
The body's stress-response system should be self-limiting. Once the perceived threat has passed, adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, the heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular levels of activity.
However, when stressors and 'feeling under attack' remain constant, the fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on, over-exposing the body to cortisol and other stress hormones. The cells of the immune system (and other body systems) are unable to respond normally and produce levels of inflammation which increase the risk of further health issues.
Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as we tend to resort to unhealthy coping strategies, such as smoking or drinking too much caffeine and alcohol, eating too much sugar and processed foods, not sleeping properly and giving up on exercise and healthy social activities.
A study has shown how long-term stress greatly affects the immune system, increasing the risk of catching a cold. Scientists in the U.S. questioned 176 men and women about difficult experiences they had been through in the past 12 months. Drops of the common cold virus were then dripped into their nose and scientists checked if they caught the germ. Those who had been under stress were twice as likely to develop a cold. A second experiment confirmed that the inflammatory response feeds off stress.
Almost all my clients report some form of stress. In most cases stress levels are greatly reduced after six to eight sessions and in some children, mums report a more relaxed baby after only one session. For examples please see the testimonials and case reports.