Feeling a bit of overwhelm and anxiety these last couple of weeks?
Unfortunately, getting stressed is one of the worst things we can do as the chemistry of stress decreases our immunity. And we all need to be as healthy as possible right now. We have to make sure we’re resilient and taking care of our mental and physical well-being.
Stress releases the hormone cortisol which weakens our long-term immunity, decreases lymphocytes (white blood cells that fight off infection) and increases inflammation.
In my work I help people understand that stress is not something that only happens in our heads: it’s a chemical, biological event that radically changes our chemistry and physiology. It’s important to optimize the chemistry of our bodies and brains during and after stress…and that it’s really easy.
Here are 3 things you can do to get rid of cortisol, boost your immunity and feel less stressed.
1. WORK IT OUT. Exercise is one of the best known ways to decrease cortisol AND it improves immune response. Exercise also increases circulation, which improves the ability of your cells, nutrients and illness-fighting substances to move through your body and do their jobs.
And don’t stress about fitting in exercise. Do some interval training! It’s efficient, effective and can be done in very little time. Any activity can be made interval training: just increase the intensity for 30 seconds to 5 minutes, decrease the intensity for the same or half the amount of time, and repeat these intervals for as much time as you have.
Need a no-brainer way to get this done and avoid all the germs at the gym? Here’s a tool I created to take all the stress out of it – and you can do it at home!
2. GET QUALITY SLEEP. Lack of sleep increases your cortisol levels, which decreases your immunity. Studies have shown that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. And lack of sleep can affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. Cortisol also makes it harder to get good sleep – the more cortisol you have in your system, the more difficult it is to get quality sleep.
- Remember that exercise helps to get rid of cortisol. Exercise also increases the quality of your sleep. Research has shown that people who exercise fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
- Be diligent about getting to sleep and waking up at the same time.
- Aim for 7-9 hours.
3. SIMPLE NUTRITION STRATEGIES. What, when and how you eat can produce cortisol, decrease your immunity and increase your stress. And stress produces cortisol, which in turn, affects what, when and how you eat.
- Going too long without eating triggers the release of cortisol. Eating approximately every 3-4 hours by alternating moderately-sized meals and snacks of 100-150 calories not only reduces the release of cortisol, it keeps your cells fueled for optimum function.
- Turning to stress outlets like alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine may feel good in the moment, but they increase your biological and chemical stress and can reduce your immunity. Keep them to a minimum.
- Cut back on sugar. Increased sugar intake inhibits your immune system cells that attack bacteria.
- Eat more vitamin and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. The more brightly colored and varied the better.
If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your chemistry, decrease your stress, improve your resiliency and your health, you can find more resources in my book The Resiliency rEvolution: Your Stress Solution for Life, 60-Seconds at a Time.