The Toll Of Stress On Your Overall Health

With our world in the midst of a pandemic and our lives at an unprecedented halt, it’s no secret that many of us are experiencing stress like never before. Every day we are faced with new health issues and circumstances that many of us have never had to navigate before. While anxiety induced by these changes is normal, it’s important to remember that too much of it can have a negative impact on your immune system putting you at a greater risk for health issues.

The Impact of Stress on the Immune System

Stressed out? Lonely or depressed? Don’t be surprised if you come down with “something”.

While we don’t know all of the implications of high stress on the body, we do have an understanding of some of them. Psychology Today states that “the brain and the immune  system are in constant communication,” and that “this delicate balance…can be disrupted by any kind of physical and emotional stress.” Some believe that as many as 90% of diseases and illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, have stress as a causative factor.

Why Is It So Harmful?

When a stressor occurs, the brain signals to the endocrine system to release hormones and prepare the body for an emergency. This, in turn, suppresses the immune system.

This response then creates several chemical reactions in the body, eventually filling it with the hormone cortisol. Cortisol decreases inflammation, white blood cells, and natural killer (NK) cells which help to fight cancer. On the other hand, cortisol increases tumor development and the rate of tissue infection and damage.

Autoimmune Disorders

Studies have shown that as a result those with higher anxiety levels, especially at young ages, tend to be at a greater risk of developing autoimmune disorders. Those with stress-related psychiatric disorders like PTSD are even prone to developing multiple autoimmune disorders.

These studies also showed that some autoimmune disorders were more common than others for an individual experiencing significant stressors. For example, celiac disease was more common than rheumatoid arthritis. The good news, however, is that those who sought to treat their condition with things like antidepressants had a less dramatic rate of disease.

The Long-Terms Risks

If stress continues to be a factor for an individual, cortisol levels will remain high, causing major long-term issues in the body. These may include:

  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Memory issues
  • Continued decreased immune function
  • Systemic inflammation leading to heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and even diabetes

This chronic anxiety may also lead to a greater risk of catching an infectious disease, longer healing time from surgeries or wounds, cancer, and premature aging. In regards to lifestyle changes, it often causes one to lose sleep, slack on exercise, and make poor eating choices.

Learning to Deal With It

Since stress is unavoidable, it’s imperative that you find ways to deal with it. This may include:

  • Reading
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Meditating
  • Focusing on a hobby or getting creative
  • Turning off the news
  • Getting fresh air
  • Trying supplements like Valerian root, Kava Kava, L-theanine, and ashwagandha

Lastly, spend time with the ones you love. These social ties may indirectly strengthen immunity because friends…can encourage good health and behaviors.



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Distress or Chronic Stress

Distress or chronic stress is uncontrollable, prolonged, or overwhelming stress. Once stress becomes distress, the body manages to survive though not always to thrive. For example, when faced with periods of chronic stress, the body’s immune system function is lowered, and the digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems no longer function the way they should. In a state of distress, the cells of the immune system (and other body systems) are unable to respond normally and produce levels of inflammation which increase the risk of further health issues.


Homeostasis refers to your body’s ability to regulate itself and maintain a comparatively stable internal environment despite external and internal conditions and events.

Your body is designed to be in a state of homeostasis, where all the systems within are functioning optimally.


Stressor is anything that is perceived by the body as challenging, threatening or demanding.

Health Story

In the context of My Wellbeing Compass, your “Health Story” represents the combination of your dis-eases, conditions, symptoms and the history that binds them together. It is multi-layered and multi-dimensional. Unearthing and resolving the root causes at the core of your Health Story is the only way to truly rewrite this Story.

Natural Self-repair Mechanisms

The body is made up of intelligent, living cells that are dynamically connected. They communicate and just know what to do and when to do it in any given situation. They grow, replicate, repair, and age. Every 90 days, the body has a new bloodstream; every year, it manufactures billions of new cells; colon cells refresh every 4 days; the skin is entirely regenerated every 2-3 weeks; white blood cells regenerate in about 1 year; the liver renews itself at least once every 2 years; and the skeleton replaces its cells entirely every 10 years.

You are an incredibly complex, interactive, and dynamic living organism that is well-equipped with self-repair mechanisms that can fight infections, eliminate toxins, fix damaged DNA, destroy cancer cells, and even slow down aging.

This natural self-healing ability (also referred to as cellular intelligence or body’s innate intelligence) explains spontaneous remissions from seemingly “incurable” diseases.


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