12/16/2011 Mind-Body Health
Hundreds of studies over the past decade have found that the level of stress or comfort we feel in our lives influences our immune cells. When we are experiencing a lot of emotional turbulence, our immune cells receive confusing messages from our brain. It’s as if our immune cells are constantly eavesdropping on our internal dialogue. When our mind is calm and peaceful, our immune cells behave more effectively than when we are in a distressed state of mind.
While a healthy immune system responds appropriately to challenges, an unhealthy immune system may respond too aggressively or not aggressively enough, resulting in allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, or cancer. Even diseases that were not previously considered to be immunologically mediated, such as coronary artery disease and Alzheimer’s disease, are turning out to strongly be influenced by immunity. The bottom line is that immunity is the essence of a healthy, balanced life.
Here are 7 effective ways to protect your immune system:
1. Manage your stress.
Learn and practice a meditation or relaxation technique on a daily basis. During meditation, your breathing slows, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease, and stress hormone levels fall. You experience a deep state of inner silence and stillness. When you finish your meditation session, you carry some of that silence and stillness with you throughout your day. At the Chopra Center, we offer instruction in a simple yet profound technique known as Primordial Sound Meditation. It is one of the most powerful tools for health and wellbeing, and for this reason we offer instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation at every event and program.
If you’d like to join us in January for the premiere of the Chopra Center’s Meditation Weekend workshop, please click here to learn more.
2. Eat well.
Eating for optimal health and a strong immune system is all about balance. In Ayurveda, one aspect of balanced nutiriton is including all six tastes throughout the day: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Learn more about the six tastes here. It’s also important to Favor fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit your intake of red meat, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates.
3. Make restful sleep a priority.
Good quality rest is one of the pillars of healthy living and a strong immune system.In rhythm with the sun going down and birds flocking to their nests, we should also go to sleep early, ideally before 10 p.m. If you are a late riser, try shifting your bedtime closer to 10 p.m. by 15 minutes per night. This will help you rise earlier, giving you time to concentrate on your morning meditation and to prepare a nourishing breakfast. In addition, you’ll have time to enjoy nature’s early morning calm.Learn more about a healthy sleep routine here.
Integrate flexibility, strength building, and cardiovascular activities into your daily routine.
Studies have shown that one good belly laugh improves immune function for 24 hours.
6. Get touched.
Massage awakens immune function and feels good.
7. Look at things that inspire you.
Limit your exposure to violent television programs and movies. A Harvard study showed that watching violent scenes weakens immunity, whereas watching loving images stimulates the immune system.