In optimizing our body’s defense against infection and illness, it is essential to recognize the factors that give our immune system a fighting chance. Mental health plays a crucial role in the functioning of the immune system and vice versa. Suffering from a mental health issue may cause a domino effect and cause you to get physically ill. When dealing with a serious injury or infection, your mental health may also decline. Said differently, without good mental health, the immune system can suffer, and without a sound immune system, mental health can deteriorate. It is important to take care of both to reach a balanced state.
The primary function of the immune system is to protect against infection. If compromised, this complex network of proteins and cells can lead to immunodeficiencies, autoimmune disorders, and disease. Research continues to point to evidence that being under chronic stress, a long-term, constant feeling of pressure, can be disruptive to the brain’s ability to function. This chronic stress can affect the brain by reducing serotonin, our happiness, and mood stability hormone. Interestingly, our immune system stays active as long as our brain perceives stress.
Countless studies have revealed the best way to take care of our immune system to help us live a healthy lifestyle.
Consider some of the following preventative measures:
Physical Activity - increases cell circulation that helps to keep viruses and harmful bacteria at bay. Exercise also releases endorphins which improve concentration, sleep, and allows new brain cell growth. Working out for 30 minutes a day can help stimulate your immune system.
Proper Sleep - Resting our bodies and minds is a vital process that works with our immune system. Getting eight hours of sleep a night is ideal! Sleep will also reduce stress, improve mood, and improve memory.
Balanced Diet – Food that is high in antioxidants helps to protect our cells from damage. Eating a healthy diet will help prevent illness and disease, which will, in turn, maintain mental health. Although eating healthy is not always easy, making small changes is a good first step.
Good Hygiene - Gastrointestinal illnesses and respiratory infections can be prevented by washing your hands thoroughly and frequently.
Mind over matter is more than just an expression. It is a delicate dance between our brain and immune system that focuses on healing instead of pain.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness but rather an indication that you are strong enough to do the work on your own. If this does not seem possible or realistic, consider professional support from a doctor or make an appointment at the Neurofeedback and Counseling Center of PA to talk to one of our therapists.
Mental health conditions can take many forms, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes down to treatment options - which encompass everything from therapy sessions and even lifestyle changes tailored just for YOU!