Stressed woman damages immune system

Fear and Stress can weaken the immune system – Global Virus Pt 2

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Stay strong and immune during the Corona Virus Outbreak

Further to my previous post on the fear virus currently running alongside COVID-19 (Corona Virus). I wish to heighten awareness over the potential health risks associated with chronic fear and stress. Fear in an uncontrolled form can play havoc with our mental and physical health. If we allow our minds to be taken over by fear, our immune system will become weakened. Our immune system is our first line of defence against viruses of numerous kinds. This point is not being emphasised enough in the current climate. A fascinating short article that highlights the scientific backing of this knowledge by The American Psychological Association can be found here.

Managing stress, especially chronic or long-term stress (even if it’s not intense), may help people to fight germs.The American Psychological Association

The immune system is our first line of defence against viruses

Simply being exposed to a virus does not necessarily mean we will catch it, we are exposed to numerous germs on a daily basis, a strong immune system can go a long way to defending us from risk. A healthy nutritious diet, exercise, good sleep, vitamin supplementation all play a vital role here. Good mental health is also vital though to support our physical health and immune system. Anger, fear, anxiety and prolonged stress can put us at a higher risk of catching viruses. Not to mention other health risks associated with stress such as increased heart attack risk or high blood pressure.

‘Stress is one of the major contributors to an unbalanced immune system and susceptibility to infections.’ – Dr Jenna Macciochi, One of UK’s leading immunologists

Reiterating my point, fear must not be allowed to take control of our minds at this time. I understand it is tougher now than ever to remain fearless when the media, government and your friends are filled with negativity. Stress must be minimised as much as possible though despite this. Research has highlighted that there is strong link between mind and body. We must be aware that deep seated beliefs that we are weak, vulnerable to catching viruses or at high risk in some way must be turned around.

Four points to focus on in a crisis

  • We must direct ourselves to maintain a positive outlook and keep control of our thoughts.
  • Remember the importance of minimising stress for our own health and immune system.
  • We must place daily strategies in place to prevent us from losing control over our minds.
  • It is proven that stress management increases our immunity to infection.
Light breaking through the clouds
Remember that light always lies behind the clouds

Daily exercises for stress management

I am now going to outline some daily exercises you can put in place that will help bring back some inner peace to an overactive mind. Simply dedicating ten minutes a day to one of the following strategies could be incredibly effective in helping you remain calmer. If you have more than ten minutes to dedicate, then that’s great too. I only suggested ten minutes a day because it’s easier to commit too. This has to be a daily commitment if you are wishing to see sustained improvements. Select a time during the day that works best for you and try to stick to it. Once a week will not be very effective.

Meditation

Taking ten minutes to sit in a quiet place and clear the mind can be profoundly effective at helping you stay mentally strong. Try to think of nothing at all, focus solely on your breathing, start by taking ten deep breaths, focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath as you sit in your quiet spot. Count to a hundred if that helps or focus on your favourite colour, find a way to avoid the mind running out of control. Try to gently bring back focus when fearful negative thoughts enter your mind.

If thoughts are still coming through despite your best efforts to quiet the mind, don’t worry. Simply look at the thoughts and analyse them, stand back from any thoughts that come through. Try to understand if these thoughts are helpful or unhelpful. This ten minute exercise is simply a form of building awareness. Become aware of your thoughts, fears and stressors and they suddenly have less power over you.

There is no pressure on you during this ten minutes, you are not expected to be a zen master. Simply try your best to be aware as possible of your thoughts and over time you will find you gain a greater sense of peace. Over time, you will begin to feel the effectiveness of meditation. You may even begin to see this ten minute period as an escape from the daily grind.

Affirmations

“Words saturated with sincerity, conviction, faith, and intuition are like highly explosive vibration bombs, which, when set off, shatter the rocks of difficulties and create the change desired”Paramahansa Yogananda

Affirmations are highly effective at maintaining a positive outlook, if you are constantly receiving negative or fearful thoughts the mind can turn against you. You can repeat the affirmations back to yourself during your ten minute meditation or before sleep is also highly effective. Pick up a pen and paper, write down some affirmations that will benefit you.

Try to find time every day to read these out to yourself, I find repeating each affirmation around five times is highly effective. Try once more to quiet and clear your mind when you carry out this process. It’s important you are not distracted when you follow this through. We want the positive words to sink deeply into the subconscious mind and leave a lasting impact. The purpose of this exercise is to overcome any negative deep seated beliefs we have about ourselves. We have already established there is a strong mind-body connection, it is crucial our deep seated beliefs reflect this.

Here are some examples of affirmations you can use to strengthen the mind and body.

I am positive, I am healthy, I have a strong immune system, I am happy. I am strong, I am free from disease etc...

Prayer

For those of us who have faith or a belief in a higher force/God. Prayer can also be highly effective in bringing a stillness and sense of peace to the mind. Daily prayer allows us to be positive, express our feelings/emotions and also brings us a sense of inner resolve and strength. Prayer is also more effective when we include a sense of gratefulness to the words we express. i.e. being grateful for our health and wellbeing. If you wish to find some effective prayers, please check out these from Paramahansa Yogananda.

Physical Exercise

Including some form of exercise on a daily basis is also highly effective form of bringing back peace to an overactive mind. Physical activity is known for releasing endorphins which gives us a positive sense of wellbeing. Physical exercise has also been scientifically proven to strengthen our immune systems. If a daily exercise routine seems to be to much, then a simple 30 minute walk where you make an effort to calm your mind and become aware of your thoughts could be highly helpful.

In Conclusion…

We live in highly challenging times, people around the world are locked down in there homes uncertain of what the future holds for them. Social distancing rules are in place increasing the risk of people feeling lonely or isolated. I hope my article provides some level of comfort and has a practical use to some of those out there struggling right now. Keep a positive outlook, try not to let fear conquer you and stay safe.

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