Edited by Grimm
Understanding How Stress Works in the Body
Many systems in the body are engaged when a stress response is initiated.
This reaction in the body is known as the fight, flight or freeze response. Stress is the body's reaction to real or perceived situations. Stress is as individual as each person is. For example; some people have no problem with public speaking, for others, just the thought of public speaking puts them into panic mode. Happy situations can also trigger the stress response.
Some studies have shown that chronic stress changes the expression of genes in the immune cells. These genes that produce inflammation were expressed at greater than normal levels, and genes that could decrease inflammation were diminished. Stress causes white blood cells to be more inflammatory than normal, and this is good, to a point. This inflammatory process defends the body against viruses. When the inflammatory process is not alleviated, it may increase your risk to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity and other diseases.
The article below will explain a bit more about stress and how it works, and help you learn how to manage stress effectively.
Why Stress Can Damage and Depress the Immune System
The immune system has a vast collection of cells that travel throughout the body.
The purpose of the immune system is to defend the body against invading organisms, (antigens), like viruses and bacteria. The majority of immune cells are derived from white blood cells, lymphocytes and phagocytes. Further dividing into two types of lymphocytes. Which are; B cells that produce antibodies that surround the body's cells and destroy invading viruses and bacteria. T cells work inside the body's cells and destroy the invader from the inside. Phagocytes eat and absorb invading cells.
The stress hormone corticosteroid decreases the amount of lymphocytes and suppresses the immune system.Stress, especially chronic stress, suppresses the immune system's ability to fight off antigens, increasing susceptibility to infections. Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking. 
Managing Stress and Improving the Immune System
These steps and techniques will show you how to reduce stress and improve your health.
- 2There are various ways to manage and cope with stress.Sometimes changing how we view something diminishes stress greatly. Change is key in resolving or managing stress. You can either change the situation or change your reaction, much easier said than done. Advertisement
- 6Everyone has their own unique way of managing stress and coping.Each situation is different and what works one time may not work another time. Experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what works for you. Advertisement
Additional Tips & Suggestions for Managing Stress
- Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing specific muscle groups and then relaxing them. You can start head to toe or toe to head. The goal is to obtain total muscle relaxation.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor, or lay down (don't fall asleep). make sure you also have loose fitting clothes on.
- Close your eyes and focus on slow breathing, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. As you breath, your abdomen should be rising and falling and your chest barely moving, this is called abdominal breathing and forces your lungs to fill fully. Focus on your breathing, if and when your mind wonders, just bring the focus back to your breathing.
- Next, tense each of the following muscle groups for 5 seconds and then relax each muscle group before moving on to the next group:
- Facial muscles, ears and neck, shoulders, upper arms, lower arms, hands, shoulder blades, lower back, upper chest, abdomen, groin, buttocks, thighs, lower legs, feet, and toes.
- You can repeat in reverse or repeat in the same sequence. Some people concentrate on one side of the body and tense smaller muscle groups. Remember to continue slow abdominal breathing during this technique. 
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
Categories : Mental Health