Ever felt beyond stressed out about work or life, been up to your eyes in deadlines, or had an annoying interaction with a friend, and then gotten a cold to top it all off? We’ve definitely been there and know how frustrating it can be! There’s actually a reason for this; stress directly affects our immune system.
Being under stress impacts our immune system’s ability to ward off foreign stressors, including bacteria, germs, and viruses. Prolonged stress suppresses our immune system by causing inflammation and reducing our ability to heal. Stress causes your cortisol hormone levels to rise, which can interfere with the T-cells’ (a type of white blood cell) ability to reproduce and receive signals from your body. Cortisol also reduces certain antibody secretions which form our first line of defense against pathogens, leaving your body more vulnerable to illness.
Fortunately, finding ways to relax and wind down can help prevent stress from negatively impacting your immune system. Here are our 6 favourite natural ways to relieve stress.
1. Try Adaptogens
Adaptogenic herbs have been used in Indian and Chinese herbal medicine for centuries. These non-toxic herbs assist the body in healing and responding to different environments and external stressors. Unlike conventional medicines or non-adaptogenic herbs, adaptogens don’t interfere with the body’s natural mechanisms and instead assist in regulating the body’s natural processes. To help aid with relieving stress, try rhodiola to help balance cortisol levels, and improve energy and mood, or ginseng to delay the body’s stress response, improve mood, concentration, libido (woo!), and energy levels.
2. Deep Breathing
During times of mental stress, you can experience physical symptoms like a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and constricted blood vessels (which is why you may feel a ‘tightness’ in your chest when stressed). Finding a deep, rhythmic breathing exercise can aid in activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response and helps you calm down.
There are multiple types of deep breathing exercises, however, they all have the shared goal of helping you focus your awareness on your breath; slowing it down and making it deeper.
3. Catch Some Zzzs
Often overlooked, regularly getting a good night’s sleep aids in regulating cortisol (the stress hormone) production in the body. In the long run, attaining an adequate amount of sleep (aim for eight hours a night) will keep you calmer by regulating your stress response.
4. Take a Walk
Going for a walk in nature is one of the easiest ways to let your mind relax. Walking or jogging places your mind into a meditative state, releases endorphins in your brain which work to boost your mood and give you energy, and decrease your cortisol levels, leading to a reduction in stress levels!
5. Eat Stress-Busting Foods
Food plays a crucial role in how you feel and can influence your outlook on life, as well as how you respond to stressful situations. Certain foods are natural mood-boosters due to the nutrients they contain; try incorporating walnuts (vitamin B6, polyphenols, omega-3s), chia seeds (omega-3s), dark chocolate (theobromine, flavonols, and polyphenols), and lentils (folate, vitamin B6, and zinc) into your diet to reduce stress and keep your mental well-being in check.
6. Tap into the Power of Scent
Scent is unique to the other senses in that it bypasses the thalamus and travels to the olfactory bulb in our brain (the region that processes scents). This section of the brain directly connects to the limbic system which houses the amygdala and hippocampus; areas of the brain that deal with memory and emotion. Scent can be used to trigger certain emotions and memories and can even be used to create new positive memories or to promote a relaxed emotional state.
To incorporate scent into your lifestyle, try taking a mindful moment to apply your favourite KYND Scent each morning. We love the calming notes of spices, woods, and cooling spearmint in Cool Earth, which work to foster peace and tranquility.
Discover the uplifting, transformative power of KYND Scent here.