As soon as things pick up at work, or you start planning a big event or a vacation, you feel your stress levels start to rise.
It inevitably happens at the most inconvenient time: As soon as things pick up at work, or you start planning a big event or a vacation, you feel your stress levels start to rise. Suddenly—bam!—you get sick.
Over at Time magazine, doctor Gail Saltz explains exactly what happens to your body when your stress levels rise, and why, subsequently, you always get sick from it.
Basically what happens is that when we’re stressed, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. That’s great if you’re facing a real emergency—such as running out of a burning building or car—but it’s bad if you’re feeling a little stressed out because you have extra deadlines at work.
In that case, your body simply stays in fight-or-flight mode while you try to get your extra work done. The problem is that staying on high alert all the time weakens your immune system, triggering symptoms such as headaches, sore throat, gastrointestinal problems, or insomnia.
Before you know it, you’re in bed for a week trying to fend off a cold or the flu (which probably does nothing to temper your high level of stress).
The good news is that while you can’t live an entirely stress-free life, you can easily mitigate some of the negative effects. Slow, deep breathing has been shown to relieve stress. Making sure you’re exercising regularly (yoga’s particularly effective for this problem), following a healthy diet, and getting plenty of shut-eye will also help.