I work as a therapist at a mental health center. One thing that is coming to the forefront is that depression and chronic pain are linked. Likewise our mental and emotional health is linked to our immune system. This year has been a particularly nasty flu season. As usual we were offered flu shots by the company I work for. Because I am not a huge fan of shots I declined. I am certainly not against the flu shot but this was a personal choice.
Many of my fellow co workers have been ravaged by the flu this year. Unfortunately the strain for the vaccine we had access to was not the predominant strain that hit our area. We work in a public facility. Hundreds of people are seen daily. It stands to reason that our chances of getting sick are high. This is why we are offered the shots every year and as healthcare workers we are required to take TB skin tests yearly. It is now March and so far this year I have been blessed to not even have a cold. Having had back surgery in 2012 I do have chronic pain.
I see people on a daily basis that allow pain, anxiety and depression take their freedom. Medications have their place in treating these issues but in researching nutrition and immune health there is way more to managing chronic illness and preventing acute illness than just taking medications.
Do you feel that you have to call in as much as you are at work? Do you go to work sick because you have run out of days? Is sickness passed around your family frequently? I came across this quote today as I was posting my daily inspiration to my Facebook readers.
“If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.”
― Kris Carr
This got me thinking. How many of my readers are dealing with these issues regularly? Over the years through my work and through personal experiences I have dealt with the above and I am here to tell you we have way more control over this than we would like to believe but as with everything else it takes action on our part to begin seeing results. Here are three ways to improve your immune system and to keep any chronic ailment from taking control such as pain.
Yes I know who has time? My question to you is who has time to be off work regularly due to sickness? I was just like you. Growing up I stood in left field in PE praying that the ball was never hit to me. It was not until college that I found a physical activity that I could stick with. Yes in the 80's I joined the aerobics craze. Unfortunately all that bouncing around did a number on my knees and back. I have a curved spine that finally led to nerve pain and eventual back surgery in 2012. The main excuse I hear at work for not exercising is "I have chronic pain". They are always shocked when I don't allow my clients to use that as an excuse. The number one best exercise for anyone with chronic pain or arthritis is swimming laps which I do or any water exercise program. Of course if pain is not an issue then the multitude of physical activities are endless. The key is to find something you enjoy and stick with it.
I have always had issues with my weight. At 13 I joined Weight Watchers and lost 20 lbs before entering high school. I was pretty much able to keep my weight at bay in high school which is astonishing since most of my activity was standing in left field. In college as the cafeteria food and beer started taking its toll I found aerobics to keep it at bay. Nutrition, however, was not something I paid attention to. At 48 I have had high blood pressure for many years. My cholesterol varies on how well I have been eating and my level of exercise. As I age I realise that weight is not as much the goal as good health. I managed to stop smoking in 2012 by making sure I had access to good foods and exercising regularly. My goal was to stop and keep my weight down. I am proud to say I did that so it is possible to stop and not gain weight if the addiction is substitued for exercise and good diet.
For immune health it is important to stay away from processed foods and to keep the colon working well. An apple a day keeps the doctor away is actually a very true statement. I started bringing my lunches to work which saves money and my waistline. Where I used to bring low fat frozen foods now I bring soups, salads and left overs from the weekends. All of the home made alternatives taste much better and are helpful at keeping your immune system working in good order. My new rule of thumb is if I can't pronounce it I shouldn't eat it. I am not saying I am perfect but I have not had to take a day off for being sick in almost a year. Before that it was over a year. This stuff works.
Keeping a positive attitude and gratitude
Okay Mina enough with the gratitude already. What does having gratitude have to do with staying well? The number one reason we are sick and tired is because we are stressed out! Why are we stressed? Because things are not going the way we think they should at home, work, school, with our kids, spouses.... The list goes on and on. Our attitude towards others and towards our situations are the primary reason we stay stressed. Do you ever feel anxiety in your gut? That feeling that something isn't right. It is no coincidence that 70% or so of our immune system is in our gut. The more anxiety we have the more susceptible to illness we are.
So in conclusion we have way more control over our immune system than we originally have been led to believe. Sickness and pain does not have to be something that we fall slave to if we choose to make real life style changes. In some ways the diet and exercise are the easier things to change. Gyms are on every corner and even McDonalds is posting nutrition information. How do we change years and years of anxiety provoking programming that invades our lives and our minds daily? My job as a therapist is to work with people who have diagnosable illnesses and give them tools to cope with the things going on in their lives. What about the rest of the world? Who is going to teach them some tools? That is my job as well now that I have started my coaching business. Through the certification process I am learning tools that work quickly and easily to give you results in the first session.
Please leave your comments below. I would love to hear your feedback. My prayer for you is healthy and happy daily living.
Mina Price, LCSW
Law Of Attraction Coach