Did you know that your mental health and immune system are closely tied?
Think about it. Have you ever had a day so bad it made you sick? Or an emotional breakthrough that made you feel more physically robust?
Believe it or not, your mood and physical health affect one another. These two important aspects of your daily life feed into each other. Stress can reduce your wellbeing by releasing harmful fight-or-flight neurotransmitters which give you “stress belly” and reduce your resistance to local illness. Likewise, being brought low by a round of the flu literally causes emotional depression because the two are, in many ways, one and the same.
When you are mentally unwell, it’s easier to get sick. Your body’s natural motions also directly transfer emotional discomfort to physical discomfort. When you are anxious, your shoulders clench and your back begins to hurt. When you are angry, you clench your teeth until a headache develops. And when you feel like giving up, your body also defends itself less determinedly against illness.
Stress Weakens Your Immune System
Working too hard can literally make you sick. In a study from 1982 to 1992, it was found that students’ immune resistance went down every year during the three-day exam period. Every year on those days, all tested students experienced lowered immune systems. It was the stress. In a test tube, their T-cells only weakly fought infection and almost no immunity-boosting gamma interferons were produced.
Further studies revealed that prolonged stress sends your immune system downhill. This is why people who get over-stressed often experience illness more frequently. The longer the stress continues, the less robust your immune system can get. It was also found, incidentally, that loneliness seems to play a critical role in the weakening of immune systems.
What Is Depression, Anyway?
The other half of this is the relationship between being sick and being depressed. They are, in many ways, the same thing. Depression is a lack of energy and motivation. It’s not always exactly sadness, but feeling sad is a common response to feeling too weak or non-energetic to live life fully.
When you are sick, your body is actively being sapped of energy. The same is true after an intense workout or an injury (also two similar states). Being sick for a long time simulates and then becomes emotional depression, as you become dejected about not having enough energy day after day. Likewise, being depressed for a long time can lower your immune system until you become more susceptible to illnesses — which then feeds into the cycle.
This, unfortunately, means that depression can become a stress-induced trap for many. The weakened state of depression is self-perpetuating and in many, also self-generating if there is also an imbalance of personal neurotransmitters or a chronic weakening medical condition at play.
Uplifting Your Mood Through Physical Health
The easiest way to see this connection is through a little exercise or self-pampering, whichever makes you feel best. Help your body work out that muscle tension and fully relax. Then see what happens to your mental state as a result.
If you choose to exercise, work up a real sweat. Give yourself somewhere between 10 and 40 minutes, depending on your athleticism and chosen exercise. Get aerobic and sweat through any initial emotions. Seek cardio until you hit your second wind and feel clear-headed again, then take a quick refreshing shower when you’re ready. Did you work through ill emotions? Do you feel fresh and more balanced on the other side? Exercise pushes out toxins that make you feel low, turning them into sweat. This works best when combined with a lot of hydration.
If you choose to pamper yourself for the experiment, draw a hot bath, just hot enough that it’s toasty when you get in. Add nice oils and Epsom salt. Light a candle or two at a safe distance. Then let yourself float in the hot, salted water. Let your muscles relax and your mind drift. Try to relax every muscle one at a time. When you get out of the bath, examine your stress level. It likely flowed away with the tension between your shoulder blades.
Uplifting Your Health Through Mental Wellness
Feeling well through mental health is often the result of a long journey or a recent emotional breakthrough. If you have been feeling bad for months and suddenly break free of your emotional burdens, you may find that your physical health also improves. The same is true of people who carefully peel away their stressors and simplify life until they are able to relax and enjoy each day again.
Stress and unhappiness literally weigh down your body, use resources and reduce your production of immunity-boosting cells. By reducing the stress in your life, you can also increase your body’s ability to fight illness and boost energy to be strong and well. Therapy, meditation, life changes and personal development can all not only improve your mental health but also increase your physical health. They can shake off illness as well by removing that heavy weight that you are carrying.
Synergistically Improve Your Immune System and Mental Health at the Same Time
Because your mental health and your immune system are so closely linked, they can create a downward spiral. But you can also use that connection to take control. By uplifting your mental and physical health together, you can rise out of that perpetuating cycle into a self-sustaining cycle of mental and physical wellness.
The best way to get started is a relaxing mental and physical experience like a massage. Give yourself the emotional space you need while helping your body to release all that built-up stress stored in the neck, shoulders, back, lymph nodes and legs.Are you ready to make a breakthrough in your mental and physical wellness? At Touch Therapy, it’s all about you. We will help you relax your body and your mind together so you step out better balanced and ready to take on life with renewed mental and physical energy. Contact us today to book your touch therapy.