Let’s first take a look at some of the everyday things that contribute to lowered immunity and that you can control.
One of the biggest contributors to lowered immunity is stress. As discussed in the article about stress, stress isn’t always bad. You might be surprised to learn that acute, short term stress actually increases your immune response. But most of us are experiencing chronic stress, and the pandemic is only adding to our existing stress load. Psychological stress has been shown to impair the immune system's ability to produce antibodies in response to a vaccine, thereby making the organism more vulnerable to infections (the response to the vaccine not as strong).
So what can you do?
I recommend reading the article here on stress and vagus nerve stimulation for decreasing your stress. Did you know that the opposite of stress isn’t calm, but kindness and gratitude? At least hormonally speaking. In stress response the body produces adrenaline and cortisol which make us feel agitated and ready us for fight or flight.
Practising kindness and gratitude on the other hand releases oxytocin in our bodies. Oxytocin is often called the “feel good hormone” because it calms us and helps us bond with other humans and animals.
So if you want to increase your stress resilience, practice gratitude and kindness daily. You could take up a practice of writing down 3-10 things you're grateful for daily, in your life and in yourself. You could also ask yourself, how you can show kindness to yourself and others, and pick one small thing to do every day. And be sure to pay that kindness and gratitude to yourself as well!
Contrariwise mirth and laughter have been proven to boost our immune system. So finding opportunities to enjoy yourself and the company of your loved ones goes a long way. What is a small thing that brings you joy you can do today?
Other things that can be done to boost the immune system:
- Taking care of your gut health. This is where it all begins. You can do things like avoid processed sugar (increases inflammation in the body) and add gut loving foods, like bone broth, to your daily diet.
- Supplementing with vitamin C and zinc that help your body’s immune system to function effectively. Sometimes magnesium can be beneficial as well.
- Using omega3-supplementation (reduces inflammation).
- Healthy diet consisting of a lot of vegetables and unprocessed foods.
Brod S, Rattazzi L, Piras G, D'Acquisto F. 'As above, so below' examining the interplay between emotion and the immune system. Immunology. 2014;143(3):311-318. doi:10.1111/imm.12341
D'Acquisto F. Affective immunology: where emotions and the immune response converge. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017;19(1):9-19. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.1/fdacquisto
Dragoş D, Tănăsescu MD. The effect of stress on the defense systems. J Med Life. 2010;3(1):10-18.
Kiecolt-Glaser JK, McGuire L, Robles TF, Glaser R. Emotions, morbidity and mortality: new perspectives from psychoneuroimmunology. Anna Rev Psychol. 2002;53:83-107. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100