Four tips to boost your immune system in times of COVID-19. Tip 2
Updated: Dec 25, 2020
Continuing with the series on immunity here is the second tip.
It is important to decrease your stress levels so that you do not remain in your fight to flight state. When we are stressed, our immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, which is why we are more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone cortisol can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (lowering the number of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell). This means that a short-term suppression of our immune system is not dangerous, however, chronic suppression can leave the body vulnerable to infection and disease. Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioural coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking.
If you want to reduce stress, it may be helpful to make time for fun and relaxation, and try to do something you enjoy every day. Talking to someone can also help release stress, as well as choosing a spiritual practice such as meditation, yoga, or tai-chi. Walking, listening to relaxing podcasts, or relaxing music, can help you stimulate your parasympathetic system, with is in charge of stimulating digestion and relaxation, and free you of stress.
Another way for stimulating the parasympathetic system is by doing breathing exercises, here a quick way to start this calming technique:
Make yourself comfortable and loosen any clothes that may be restricting your breathing.
Let your breath flow deep down into your belly without forcing it.
Breathe in through your nose, gently counting from 1 to 4, without pausing or holding your breath, breathe out through your mouth counting from 1 to 6.
Keep doing it for 4 or 5 min, or as long as you need it.
Although all these strategies contribute to reducing your stress levels, the best way tackle stress is to find out what is causing it and work to solve it.
See Tips 3 and 4 in the next article.