Stress could be depleting your immune system.

By Dr. Lexi Lain, N.D. | February 2nd, 2018

That’s why you need balance.

I’m not talking about work-life balance, although it is equally important. I’m talking about the balance of self care and meeting your daily demands. Let’s zoom in on a standard American’s day:

They get up after hitting snooze 3 times. There’s a rush to get ready, get kiddos ready, and head to school and work. What about the animals? The dogs, cats, and fish have to eat, too. But did you stop to feed yourself? Perhaps you chose to skip breakfast because you’re either not hungry or simply don’t have the time. Then once at work, you haven’t stopped for water, a snack, or a moment of prayer/breathing/meditation. You probably work through lunch or sit at your desk all day. Then the stress of work increases your blood pressure, anxiety, and then you grab for the 3rd cup of coffee which is probably the only thing you’ve had all day. Then it’s time to go home, make that long commute, do dinner, chores, kids stuff, and somehow find time for yourself and spouse.

So far, this is not looking like balance. This is looking like organized chaos and your immune system is hating the ride.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s happening to your immune system during chronic, mild stress.

Your immune system is a multi-faceted and highly complicated system. One significant piece to this puzzle is in your gut and it’s called Secretary IgA. This is an imuno-globulin, essentially a protein, that plays a vital role in the prevention of infections and inflammation in all mucous membranes. This includes not only your gut but your lungs and sinuses. In times of acute and short lived stress, your nervous system sends messages to your brain and gut that increases IgA. BUT in times of chronic, long term stress your IgA goes down. Low IgA weakens your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to GI inflammation but also chronic upper respiratory infections. Finding ways to manage your stress will lower your Cortisol levels and in turn, balance your IgA back out.

There, of course, is more to the neuro-immune story but let’s talk solutions!

For starters, you need to find that Work-Life-SELF CARE balance. From there, you will begin to handle stress better and in turn calm your nervous system. This intricate conversation in your body will improve your IgA stores and in turn, strengthen your immunity.

Step 1: Identify where in your daily routine you’re really dropping the ball on self care. If there’s more than one area that comes to mind, pick only 1 and master that before moving to the next. This can be very hard to do if you’re a driven, type A, all-or-nothing kind of person. Remember- you’re making life long changes and the requires calculation and planning to make a new habit stick. Doing something consistently for 21 days is a start but to really make it a new habit, it’s got to be about 90 days of consistency.

Step 2: Once you’ve identified the “self-care” habit you will be committing to, come up with a plan.

Step 3: Make it happen. A change can happen in an instant and at the end of the day it’s up to you.

Some examples:

  • Drink more water
  • Stop work related activities at least 1 hour before bed.
  • Don’t check email the moment you wake up in the morning.
  • Have a protein shake for breakfast to get your day started
  • No alcohol during the week

Want to know more about how to create balance and feed your adrenal glands?

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