Stress Reduction Archives - Dawn Laflin

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The key to a boosting your immune system is living a lifestyle of good-for-you behaviors. When you take care of yourself, your immune system will take care of you.

As a first line of defense for your body to fight off infection and illnesses, your immune system requires some TLC. It’s a complex system of cells, tissues and organs including your digestive system, skin, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the thin membrane tissues inside the nose, throat and genitals. Basically it plays a prominent role in your entire body. 

Taking action today, will help ensure your tomorrows are healthy and happy. Wondering where to start? Here are 6 ways you can boost your immune system.

Eat More Whole Plant-Based Foods

When it comes to supporting your immune system, plant based foods will always serve you well. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber…all the things that keep your body healthy, happy and operating at an optimal level.

The antioxidants found in plant-based foods will go to work gathering up the excess free radicals floating throughout your body. Free radicals are a very normal part of our body’s make-up. And although we naturally have antioxidants in our body to balance out free radicals, their availability decreases as we age. If left unchecked, these free radicals can wreck havoc on our systems, building up to the point of chronic inflammation which leads to numerous health conditions ranging from autoimmune diseases, heart disease, alzheimer’s to certain cancers. That makes it even more imperative that we increase the amount of antioxidants we take in through our food.

In addition, plant-based foods will add a great deal of fiber to your diet. This makes the members of your gut flora (your microbiome) do the happy dance. Fiber feeds the healthy bacteria found in your gut, meaning they thrive, keeping the unhealthy bacteria to a low roar. When your gut is out of balance, your unhealthy gut bacteria are thriving…leaving you with the feeling of bloating, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Not so fun!

Focusing on eating more plant based foods supports your gut which supports your immune system, lowering inflammation and improving your overall health.

Cut Back on Sugar and Processed Foods

Sugar.  Ahhh…we all love the short-lived sweet sensation of a treat, but the long term effects of having too much sugar in our diet significantly increases not only your weight, but also the chance to develop Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. All three of these conditions weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds, flu and infections.

Did you know there are over 56 different names for the types of “sugar” you’ll find in processed foods? Looking at the ingredient list for just SUGAR may leave you with a false sense of security. Stick to whole, real, natural sugars, (i.e. maple syrup, honey, date paste, etc.) if you find you find yourself in need of a sugar source. Have an urge for something sweet? Reach for some fresh fruit and add a couple of nuts in as well. And above all, try to limit your intake to 5% of your daily calories (i.e. 2 tablespoons or 25 grams in a 2,000 calorie diet), 

Hydrate

Water has a starring role in many of your body’s functions, especially the immune system. Keeping your cells hydrated with water allows them to operate at an optimal level.

Water helps carry oxygen to your body’s cells, remove toxins from the body, aids in digestion and helps the body produce lymph fluid which is a critical component in the lymphatic system working properly. It also helps keep your eyes, mouth and skin properly hydrated, which is critical because these are points of entry for fighting off invaders.

Be sure you’re drinking adequate water each day.

Make Movement Part of Your Everyday

Being on stay-at-home orders does not mean we shouldn’t be moving our bodies on a daily basis. Engaging in regular exercise is an important part of supporting a healthy immune system. As little as 20 minutes of daily moderate exercise has been shown to boost the effectiveness of your immune system.

Not only will it improve immune function, it will also decrease inflammation, reduce stress, brighten your mood, keep your muscles strong and your joints fluid. It’s safe to say, regular exercise can have a profound affect on your health!

When you exercise, your sympathetic nervous system gets activated. This triggers a rise in your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, all of which boosts your body’s circulation. This enhanced circulation enables immune cells to travel more easily through your body, doing what they do best, enhancing the immune function.

Catch Plenty of Zzzz’s

Sleep is all too often over-rated. Once upon-a-time, I was guilty of believing that myself. However, I’ve come to learn nothing can be farther than the truth. When you sleep, your body kicks into over-drive. That is, it goes into maintenance and repair mode.

Research shows that sleep improves and strengthens immune cells, in particular, the T cells. These T cells are critical for fighting against intracellular pathogens. When your body lacks sleep, the effectiveness of your immune cells decreases and other hormones (such as stress hormones) remain high, potentially further inhibiting the function of T cells.

At a minimum, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep for optimal health. That is a baseline number. Some people find they need much more, especially if they are battling chronic inflammation. It’s important to learn what your body needs and take steps to get there if it struggles to stay asleep through the night.

Reduce Stress

Did you know that 60%-80% of doctor’s office visits are due to chronic, unmanaged stress? Symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, heartburn, stomaches, anxiety, depression, etc. are just some of what sends people to the doctor’s office.

While stress is a natural part of our everyday lives (and our body was created to handle it in a fight or flight situation), stress that is ongoing can wreck havoc on our health. When your body is stressed long-term, it depresses the immune system’s ability to function properly, leaving you more vulnerable to colds, flu and infection.

High levels of stress can also lead to chronic inflammation. Inflammation left unchecked not only causes you to age faster, it also increases your risks of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few.

Some ways to combat stress include:  meditation, exercise, yoga, talking with a trusted confidant, deep breathing and journaling. Keep in mind what works for one, might not work for another. It’s important to find what works best for your stress levels and do that.

Supporting your immune system looks like living a lifestyle full of good-for-you behaviors. Make each of the above a priority and you’ll start to notice how good you can feel in life. Additionally, you can feel good knowing you’ve increased your odds for fighting off or at least decreasing the severity of any colds, flus and infections that might come your way.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on plant-based foods for optimal intake of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber
  • Reduce your sugar intake
  • Stay properly hydrated
  • Move on a regular basis for at least 20 minutes per session
  • Get adequate sleep each night
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
  • Follow me on Instagram @dawnlaflinhealth
  • Make an appointment for a free discovery call with me (your anti-inflammatory lifestyle coach) to chat about your safer beauty swaps. Click HERE to schedule
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Our emotions, positivity and negativity, have an impact on how our body’s immune system responds in our day-to-day lives. Finding ourselves in the midst of something as serious as a world pandemic is enough to send even the most positive of people into a tailspin.

As towns, cities and states start to make stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, it can feel like we’re loosing control of our own lives. The news is bleak and constant. We’re at home 24/7, with everyone in the house. Homes have been transformed into schools, offices and residences. There’s a lot of meal-making, cleaning up, doing laundry, etc. It can all feel very heavy, raising our stress and anxiety levels.

More than ever we need to take stock in what we’re feeling and reframe our thoughts before it makes an impact on our already taxed immune system (for those of you already dealing with chronic inflammation).

How Do Our Emotions Effect Inflammation?

Research shows negative mood and emotions have been associated with increased levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Meaning, when you’re stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc. your immune system responds by increasing the release of inflammatory cytokines into your body.

While experiencing negative emotions is part of life, it’s important to note if we become stuck in a place of negativity, the inflammation in our body begins to build up. These high levels of inflammation can then become chronic, increasing your risk for chronic illnesses. Chronic illness can include anything from autoimmune disorders, heart disease and cancer to diabetes, just to name a few.

The good news? Positivity has been shown to decrease the levels of inflammation circulating through the body. That’s powerful information, especially in a circumstance where you feel you don’t have control! Learning how you choose to view a situation gives YOU the POWER to positively impact your immune response.

What is Positivity?

Now that we know how good positivity is at tamping down inflammation, what exactly is it? And how do we learn to seek it?

According to Oxford’s Online Dictionary, positivity is the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude. When you have a knack for being positive, you’ll look at the bright side of things; seek the silver lining in tough situations. Sound easier said than done? Maybe, but with a little practice you can cultivate a more positive outlook on life. One that carries you though your good and hard days.

Before we go further, know that having positivity in your life doesn’t mean you’re striving for perfection or living in a world where hardship doesn’t effect you. Two truths I know to the core of my being:  hard times are inevitable and perfection doesn’t exist. It’s ok to experience the emotions you feel when you find yourself in a challenging situation or season. That’s natural and expected.

The difference between a person who displays positivity and one who is negative, is their attitude and outlook for the future. A positive person will see a hard situation, experience the emotions, then keep moving forward. They share their feelings, lean on their faith knowing that things will get better and look for glimmers of hope in the midst of a dark storm or season.

What are Some Ways to Improve Your Positivity in the Midst of a Challenging Time?

When going through challenging situations or hard times, it can be hard to focus on positivity if you haven’t made it part of your everyday life. That said, it’s never too late to start!

Now more than ever, as we’re in a season of uncertainty and unknowns with the coronavirus pandemic, we should use this time and these activities to help lift spirits and improve mindsets.

  • Acknowledge what you’re feeling, share it with someone you trust, take stock in the things you can control and let go of the ones you can’t.
  • Be informed with the latest information, but limit how much media you consume regarding the news.
  • Listen to your favorite music, and dance like no-one’s watching or sing like you’re in your shower!
  • MOVE! Make sure you get out and move everyday. Practice yoga, exercise, walk the dog, etc. It all counts!
  • Listen to an uplifting podcast that inspires, encourages and motivates you.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal:  take time to find 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Focusing on your blessings makes it hard to sit too long on the things trying to weigh you down.
  • Encourage others with uplifting thoughts and sentiments:  let those in your circle know how much you love and appreciate them; make a goal of complimenting 3 people throughout your week; etc. By lifting others up you brighten their day and raise your positivity meter!
  • Create a space that inspires you. In our current situation, we’re all spending a lot of time at home. Use this time to clear the clutter and reset your spaces. It doesn’t cost you a dime to repurpose your furniture into new spaces, toss old paperwork and create boxes for donations.
  • Share kindness with those in your neighborhood and within your circle.

Seek Positivity and Enjoy the Good Vibes (and Lowered Inflammation Levels) that Comes with It

There’s no time like the present to make change in your life. Choosing positivity is a great place to start, especially as we’re in the midst of one of the most challenging times of our lives as a society and country.

Looking for resources to start (or deepen) your journey toward more positivity? Download my Positivity Tips and Resources Guide in the form below.

 

 

Friend, you are not alone in this journey. Be sure to share what you’re experiencing with others. Take time to surround yourself with positive people (yes, even if it’s only virtually!), practice some of the positivity tips listed above and look for the glimmers of hope. There are beautiful moments to be found in this season, you just have to be willing to look for them.

Key Takeaways

  • Stress, anxiety and negativity all have an negative impact on your inflammation levels
  • A correlation has shown between positivity and lower inflammatory biomarkers
  • Review the list of ways you can increase your positivity and put a few into practice this next week. Note how you feel, how your mindset starts to shift
  • Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
  • Follow me on Instagram @dawnlaflinhealth
  • Make an appointment for a free discovery call with me (your anti-inflammatory lifestyle coach) to chat about your safer beauty swaps. Click HERE to schedule