Sleep, Stress, and Your Immune System

Days can pile up with stress and lead to nights of little sleep. We’re all too familiar with how frustrating this can be. Did you know that it can also cause our immune system to take a hit? Our stress and sleep have direct correlations with how our immune system functions. Prioritizing sleep and stress management is an integral part of staying healthy. How Does Sleep Affect Your Immune System? Sleep is necessary for your body to ward off sickness and infection. It can also help to reduce recovery time whenever you’re fighting sickness. While sleeping, the body ramps up the production of cytokines. According to the American Cancer Society, “Cytokines are small proteins that are crucial in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells. When released, they signal the immune system to do [...]

5 Tips for Managing School and Your Stress

  A new school year is a busy and exciting time for students of any age. However, all that excitement can bring a lot of extra stress. Settling back into a routine can be a breath of fresh air after the summer break, but between changes in schedules, homework, tests, and day-to-day responsibilities, life can start to feel overwhelming quickly. We’re going to explore five different ways that can help you manage stress this school year. Stay Organized Nothing makes stress levels spike like losing an assignment or completely forgetting about a test. Clutter of the mind or physical clutter around you can leave you with your wheels spinning, unsure of what to do next. Even if you don’t consider organization one of your strong suits, there are several easy habits you can incorporate to keep your school responsibilities in [...]

Spending Time Outdoors to De-Stress

Our days can be full of hustle and bustle, from long hours at the office to shuttling kids around all evening. It’s easy to see why stress can increase as our free time decreases. While we can’t always control the stress that comes our way, we can work to manage it better. Spending time outside is a beneficial strategy for stress management. Studies have shown that time spent in nature, even just a few minutes, can positively impact the body and mind in many different ways. Lift Your Mood Vitamin D is certainly important for maintaining strong bones, but did you know that recent studies have found it to help improve mood? According to Healthline, research has shown that Vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression. If you need a little [...]

Stress Eating

The strongest food cravings seem to hit when you are at your weakest point. I’m sure we can all think about a time when the stress of life was piling up, and in turn we coped by eating a pile of cookies. Many people experience stress eating, but making a habit of it can be detrimental to our weight loss goals. There is much power behind the term “stress eating”. Stress, the hormones it releases, and coping strategies involving comfort foods, all can factor into overeating. Research has shown that both stress and weight gain go hand in hand, which is alarming when nearly a fourth of Americans rate their stress as an 8 out of a 10-point scale. So, why do we turn to food in times of stress? Stress Eating, Hunger, and Hormones Appetite can react to stress [...]

Exercise for Stress Relief

Our days can be full of stressful situations and feelings. No matter how much we’d like to get rid of stress altogether, we find that is virtually impossible. Instead, a more realistic approach is to manage how we react and respond to stress. Exercise has numerous benefits for the body, including stress relief. It increases the body’s production of endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural pain relievers and encourage feelings of pleasure (Mayo Clinic). Physical activity is a good way to give your mind a rest by focusing on the present moment. It’s known to help improve your mood by lowering feelings of depression and anxiety. When we’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to turn to unhealthy coping habits like extra snacking or drinking. Exercise provides a healthier choice for coping. Let’s look at several examples of exercises that [...]

Stress… More than Just Frustrating?

Stress. We all face some form of it almost every single day. It can feel like a frustrating or annoying part of life, but did you know that it can affect us mentally and physically? Stress impacts all systems of the body, including our musculoskeletal, respiratory, nervous, reproductive, digestive, immune, and cardiovascular systems. Learning how stress can affect our entire body can help us choose better ways to manage it. How Stress Affects the Body Musculoskeletal System. Stress causes muscles to tighten. Over time this can lead to muscle pain and body aches. Chronic tension can be a trigger for headaches and migraines. Respiratory System. Stressful situations can cause rapid breathing. These quick breaths can leave you feeling short of breath and may trigger panic attacks. Nervous System. The nervous system triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and [...]

Don’t Stress Out Your Heart

  When we think about heart health, we typically think about habits involving exercise and nutrition. While these both have a huge impact, the effects of stress on the heart often get overlooked. Stress is something that most of us deal with daily. Taking time to manage our stress can greatly improve heart health and lower the risk of adverse effects. When it comes to stress, it is necessary to explore types of stress, how it affects the body, and how to better manage it. Acute vs. Chronic Stress Acute stress stems from a short-term, immediate stressor. It sparks our body’s “flight or fight” response and produces stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) which cause elevated heart rate, increased breathing, and contracted muscles that are ready for action. It's natural for our bodies to have this acute response to stress because [...]

Holiday Greetings for Health

The holidays can be a stressful time. Use a common salutation this season to help you remember to destress. Holiday Greetings! Helping others in need can reduce stress and negative feelings. Only take on things you have time for though because sometimes saying “no” to someone else may mean saying “yes” to yourself! Let yourself enjoy the little things that matter. Indigestion can be a sign of stress. Take a moment to evaluate if you ate too much or if you need to destress. Develop a budget and stick to it! Avoid things that can end up hurting you. These include too much alcohol, reckless spending, and negative thinking. You should make “you” a priority. Spend time with the people and activities that bring you joy.   Get at least 7 hours of sleep at least 4 days each week. [...]

Gratitude and Stress Management

  Feeling extra stressed this time of year? Press pause and practice a little gratitude. Studies have shown that gratitude can help improve your mood and create more positive feelings. The “feel-good” hormones like dopamine and serotonin are often released when we practice gracious thoughts and actions. This can help cultivate happier moods and a better headspace for managing stress (Positive Psychology). Giving thanks comes in many forms. Use the tips below to learn how you can be grateful every day. Count Your Blessings Taking time to count your blessings can cultivate a thankful mood in a hurry. In a moment of frustration, stop and think about 3-5 things that you are grateful about. For example, when traffic is stressing you out, pause and think about the blessings of transportation, the weather, or even a favorite song on the radio. [...]

Eye Yoga

Eye Yoga You’re most likely familiar with the term Yoga, which encompasses exercises focusing on breath, flexibility, mindfulness, and strength in various postures or poses. So, what exactly is Eye Yoga, and how can it be a beneficial part of our exercise routine? Let’s take a deeper look. What Is It? Eye Yoga consists of exercises or movements that focus specifically on the muscles supporting the eye. These exercises are designed to help with better eye focus and give you a break from something you have been looking at for an extended time, such as a computer screen, phone, etc. Some common Eye Yoga exercises include palming, eye-rolling, focus shifting, and distance gazing. Yoga International has an informative guide for performing these exercises. What Are the Benefits? There has been mixed research on Eye Yoga and its specific benefits. Some [...]