It’s commonly known that long-term stress can have a serious negative impact on your body, but did you know that it also makes you more susceptible to everyday common illnesses, such as colds or the flu?
High blood pressure, heart disease and stomach ulcers have been widely recognised as side-effects of long-term stress, but it has also been proven that prolonged stress and the associated negative emotion that accompanies it, also makes you more susceptible to the cold and flu viruses.
Stress and the cold and flu viruses
Research has shown that test subjects who reported higher levels of stress and negative emotions were more likely to succumb to respiratory viruses they were purposely infected with, than their counterparts who reported low levels of stress and higher levels of positive emotion.
It is thought that this is because your body can’t regulate its inflammatory response when going through periods of long-term stress, which would also explain why stress has such negative effects on many other diseases, such as asthma, and cardiovascular and autoimmune disorders.
When you consider that 12.8 million working days are lost each year to stress and if these people are also more susceptible to colds and flu, it can be deduced that stress will cause additional working days to be lost to these illnesses too.
Reducing stress to reduce the likelihood of getting a cold
Although a cold isn’t something we can always avoid, it is something most of us would like to if we could. By learning to reduce our stress levels and bounce back from periods of stress faster, by becoming more resilient, we can help our bodies to work more effectively when trying to defend itself against cold and flu viruses.
How can I become more resilient?
Although some people are innately more resilient than others, we all have the capacity to learn to be more resilient. Our workshops teach people how to become more resilient through developing their emotional strengths and resources, teaching them to think flexibly with greater optimism and helping them to find ways to achieve greater balance and recovery.
Here are five of our top tips to help you increase your resilience and, in turn, support your emotional and physical wellbeing.
- Get to know your own emotional patterns, your personal triggers for, and responses to stress. If you can quickly identify your stress response as it starts, you can implement strategies to reduce or even negate it.
- Make a conscious effort to think positively and optimistically. Practising this will alter your unconscious thought processes, making them more positive and optimistic too, and can reduce the threat you perceive in challenging situations. You can read more about this here.
- Review your social networks and stop spending time on any relationships that are negative or a drain on you. Dedicate time and mental resources to building and strengthening the positive relationships in your life.
- Allow yourself time to recover. Schedule in rest breaks and do not continue to push yourself when you are becoming fatigued
- Look after your physical and emotional wellbeing. Eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly. Build in nourishing activities that you enjoy and make yourself a priority.