Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Mind-Immune Connection

Today we're talking about the immune system, that wonderful biological defense mechanism we all have that's supposed to keep us well and help protect us against infection and illness.  While that's wonderful, though, sometimes the immune system isn't feeling very well itself, and then it can't do its job properly.  This can, of course, cause a whole cascade of problems, allowing issues to fester in your gut and other important places and leaving you feeling just plain awful.  The math of it is simple: sad immune system = sad you.  And the worst part of it is that this equation eventually becomes a positive feedback loop.
Wait, what?
Allow me to get a little science-y now.  A "positive feedback loop" basically describes any cycle that contributes to its own perpetuation by fostering/amplifying the changes it creates.  The melting sea ice, for instance, is a positive feedback loop because as more ice melts, more dark water is revealed, which in turn absorbs solar heat (dark water is more absorbent than light ice) and causes more melting.  And so on. And so on. With regards to your health, a compromised immune system can make you feel sad and stressed, and your own stress can dampen your immune system, etc., etc. I know...the frustration of it sort of can make you feel like this:

But DON'T WORRY! Worrying is pretty much the worst thing you can do if you're caught in a rut of stressed immune system--->stressed you---->stressed immune system.  I mean, worrying will only contribute to the cycle, right?  I'm no doctor, and I know immune system complications probably extend far beyond how happy or stressed you are, but feeling positive, peaceful, and calm can definitely help amp up your immune responses.  Plus, even if it doesn't fix the situation 100%, there are a lot of other things being happy/having low stress will do to make your life better (clearer skin, better resting heart rate, etc.).  So find something that makes you feel relaxed and at peace--yoga, reading, even just escaping to a happy place--and do your best to incorporate into your everyday life.  It may seem difficult (so much work makes it almost impossible to find a free minute), but it should be a priority because your health is important, and you don't want to overwhelm yourself.   

<3 Frances 

For more information on the mind-immune connection, check out these links:
Mind & Body Connection - attitudes affect your health (Graves' Disease & Thyroid Foundation)

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