Chronic stress and the immune system.
Stress is a part of everyday life for most of us,
Some stress is good for you as long as it is short-lived, but when stress is prolonged it can cause you serious problems. In a world of increasing worry and concern, stressing over issues and events can suppress your immune system!
Stress can motivate you, but can also destroy you. Ongoing stress affects your immune system, impacting your physical and emotional well-being.
Stress occurs when internal emotional resources are outstripped by internal or external demands, whether they are real or perceived. In short, we worry our self sick! When this happens your body produces cortisol, the stress hormone.
Cortisol in short blasts can boost your immunity by limiting inflammation, however, when it happens too often, your body gets used to having too much cortisol in your blood. This is not good!
If that isn’t enough, stress also decreases lymphocytes, white blood cells that fight infection. These little internal warriors protect you from viruses, such as the common cold and cold sores.
Stress can also exasperate the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome triggering flare-ups, increasing pain, cramping and frequency of attacks.
In addition chronic stress can lead to bouts of insomnia, compounding the stress symptoms further!
When you have prolonged high-stress levels that leaves you wide open to developing anxiety and depression; it is important to do two things.
First, establish where your stress is coming from, and secondly, do something to reduce it.
Without identifying the causes of stress, your internal warriors, which work so hard to protect you, get stressed themselves, and eventually become less effective, leaving you exposed to chronic long term immune conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lupus and psoriasis.
That is not the end of the story, however, as constant long term stress can also leave you open to heart conditions and disease and cancer, in addition to reduced mental capability and illness.
So how can you reduce your stress?
Well, first you have to find out where your stress is coming from and decide what you are going to do about it.
Is the thing you are stressing about within your sphere of influence to make a difference to it practically? If it's a noisy neighbour then yes you can go and speak to them about it.
Are the kids or is work causing the stress to you? Then again you can have conversations about it.
However if the stress is about current social/political problems, then in reality your influence seems limited. But is it?
The great news is no! Not if you grasp this thought:
Stress is caused by your internal resources being outstripped by internal or external demands, whether they are real or perceived!
If you recognise this then there are lots you can do to help yourself. Each thought creates a physical response, change the thought and you change the response.
You are the controller of your thoughts, nothing or nobody makes us stressed, it is our internal processing of an external event or situation that causes us stress. Everything is neutral until we give it emotion. So the answer is not 'out there' it is within us. We decide how we respond. That thought can be really quite empowering!
Whatever you do, DO NOT ignore the effects of stress, it will get progressively worse, and if you don’t manage it, it will end up stopping you!
If you ignore stress your mind and body will stop you, so don't delay making changes!
Make no mistake it is much more difficult to get back on your feet if you are stopped by your mind and body. It is much better to make organised, structured changes yourself. Don't leave it until the choice is taken from you!
It makes much more sense to deal with the causes of stress in a timely way than to be stopped by your mind and body! Don’t be afraid to say what you want to happen or not happen in your life, work or social network.
Begin saying yes and nowhere you want them to fit, not where others expect them to be. (See our Reflections on Life recording here) Recognize that you not only take responsibility for what you choose to do, but you also take responsibility for what you choose not to do!
Our stress treatment system, the ‘Stress Audio Program 80’ is a multi-session (14 sessions) interlinked structured home use program, developed for those who need a little help, structure and guidance to reduce the effects of chronic stress.
In summary, it is widely acknowledged that hypnosis can help reduce the suppression of the immune system. This program gives you a structured toolkit to minimize the impacts of stress and thereby aiding you to make changes which help your immune system, which in turn benefits body and mind, and that has to be good!
30 March 2020 UPDATE
About the author:
Michael Mahoney is an award-wining clinical hypnotherapist having 33 years in-practice experience, for over 25 years he worked in a busy medical practice alongside GPs and other health professionals, working with private and referred patients. He has occupational health experience, research, development and patient piloting experience. He is the author of the highly acclaimed IBS Audio Program 100 used in 45+ countries and has won numerous innovation and research awards for his innovative health solutions.