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Stress and its Relationship with the Immune System

December 13, 2018

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It’s a fact: A weak immune system can lead to serious illness. But what many people don’t know is that one of the major factors which depletes the immune system is stress. Moreover, stress and physical illness are two major triggers for substance use disorder relapses. That’s why here at Victory Recovery Partners, we want our patients to understand the value of taking a little bit of time for themselves each day to relax and re-center.

Side Effects of Stress

The next time you’re just not feeling right, take a moment to assess the amount of stress in your life. Chances are, you can attribute a lot of your symptoms to stress. For example:

  • Stress affects the digestive system and can cause ulcers.
  • Stressful responses increase strain on the circulatory system, which can increase the heart rate.
  • Stress affects the immune system by raising blood pressure, which can lead to a myriad of illnesses and conditions.
  • Stress can cause headaches and similar discomfort in the body.

The Science of Stress

The long-term activation of stress leads to overexposure to cortisol and other hormones. As a result, there is a higher risk of developing heart disease, digestive problems, headaches, sleep deprivation issues, weight gain, and memory loss – not to mention anxiety and depression.

Stress-Fighting Strategies

The reality is that stress is a part of life. You can’t control it when it comes your way. You can, however, take steps to manage how stress affects the immune system. Some stress-fighting strategies include:

  • Eating healthy
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Regular exercise
  • Talking to someone about what is going on – sometimes we just need to vent and express our feelings

These things are easier said than done, right? You can also practice more fun relaxation techniques like:

  • Listening to music (we suggest jazz or classical, but choose whatever makes you feel calm)
  • Meditation
  • Reading a book
  • Yoga
  • Focus on what is going good/make a gratitude list
  • And when all else fails, dance away the stress!

In addition to some of these strategies, we suggest fostering healthy friendships with people who support your recovery process, allocating time for a hobby, and seeking professional help. If you are in the recovery process from addiction, having someone to talk to who understands is so important. Having a sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either. Laughter is known to reduce stress, so add some funny TV shows to your rotation.

Learning to manage stress can help maintain a positive and successful recovery process. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse disorder, Victory Recovery Partners is here to help. Our experienced staff is trained in addiction medicine, as well as, emergency medicine. We’re here to provide you with the convenient, high-quality medical care you need and deserve. Visit our website or call us today at 631-696-HELP (4357).