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7 Ways to Master Stress and Boost Your Immunity

Originally Published on UCSD by Stephanie Stevens

It's no big surprise that the majority of us are stressed out. Did you know that stress can lower your immune system's ability to fight off infection? We've got seven ways to reduce the stress in your life and all of them are things we can do at home or at our desks. Here are seven suggestions to lower the stress in your life:

  1. Deep breathing. Take five minutes to slow down and breathe deeply (start with five seconds in, five seconds out). Deep breathing helps lower blood pressure and lessen the production of stress hormones.

  2. Talking with someone you trust. Talk with a friend or family member about your stressors. Sharing the burden really does help (and lower cortisol levels). And if you need it, don't be afraid to seek out a therapist or other mental health professional.

  3. Meditate. There are several ways to do it and all of them have health benefits.

  4. Practice good sleep hygiene. Go to bed at the same time, whenever possible. Turn off any electronics an hour before bedtime. Avoid caffeine and alcohol eight hours before you head to bed.

  5. Develop good nutrition habits. Stress can make us crave all the bad things…fat, sugar, and large portions. Practice self-care and eat the recommended "rainbow of fruits and vegetables" and look into foods that have stress-reducing properties. (If you're interested in learning more about the relationship between food and health, check out our Integrative Nutrition program.)

  6. Get physical. Twenty minutes of exercise (of any type) can act as an inflammatory in the body. Fighting inflammation helps your body fight off foreign invaders (viruses and bacteria) and can help fend off the effects of diabetes and other chronic conditions.

  7. Laugh! A good belly laugh gives your stress a way to be expressed and let go. It initially revs up your stress response, but the aftereffect is that it decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, and improves your immune system for the long-term.

It really comes down to taking the time to work new habits into our daily routines. Start with one shift in your day-to-day life. As it gets integrated into your life, move on to the next one. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised. What are some of your most effective ways to leave stress behind? Please share them with us in the comments.

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