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Stress and The Immune System

By Jade Caswell, MA, Counselor


            Stress is unfortunately something that many of us are familiar with. Stress can be caused by a plethora of different factors, including work, family responsibilities, and interpersonal conflict. Stress can be defined as short-term or chronic, and even cause physical health concerns. The body releases cortisol when stressed, which can boost the immune system and limit inflammation in the short term, however, when the body is chronically stressed, this can contribute to decreased immunity due to lower white blood cell counts. White blood cells help fight infection in the body, so when their numbers decrease, this leaves the body susceptible to illness. Increased inflammation in the body has also been associated with an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression. The good news? Stress can be managed through simple life hacks, a few of which are discussed below. When stress is managed, we make ourselves more resistant to potential mental and physical illness.

Simple tips for managing stress

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness if a great tool for centering ourselves in the present moment, and can be practiced through various methods, including meditation, prayer, or yoga. Just simply sitting with your thoughts and observing them objectively while enjoying a silent moment can be considered a helpful mindfulness practice.

2. Get enough sleep

Sleep is crucial for repairing body cells and promoting physical and mental health. Not getting the recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night can leave you susceptible to higher stress levels and increased vulnerability to illness. Sticking to a routine schedule and having a bedtime routine can promote more restful sleep.

3. Eat a healthy diet

Research has shown that individuals who eat a well-balanced diet, which includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, have stronger immune systems and less inflammation in the body. In particular, Vitamins C, D and Zinc have been implicated as components of a strong immune system.

4. Try therapy

Struggling to feel balanced? Our experienced counselors at SMC can help you find an individualized plan for managing stress in your own life! We offer individual mental health counseling, as well as life-coaching that can aid you in reaching your full potential and assist you in managing stress in a healthier way. Please call us at 813-335-9794 or reach out to our office at to set up a session today!


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