Our brains are intimately connected to every organ in our body, so it’s no surprise that our mind can have tangible effects on our physical health. Have you ever been so stressed that you were unable to eat, or walked into an odd situation and immediately felt queasy? Among our numerous mind-body connections, our mindfulness-immune system connection is especially powerful. The immune system is a vital purveyor of physical wellness because of its ability to protect us from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. It communicates with the brain via chemical messengers, and when those chemical levels are altered, our immune functioning suffers. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which at normal levels contributes to the healthy functioning of our metabolism and sleep/wake cycles, but at elevated levels, cortisol can weaken our immune systems, causing us to become susceptible to colds, contagious illnesses, and bodily inflammation.

Just as our minds can negatively affect our immunity, however, our minds can also improve it. Achieving optimal mental health and practicing mindfulness are surefire ways to combat the harmful effects of stress, and in turn, boost immunity. Continue reading to learn how you can apply a positive mindset to improve not only your mental well being, but physical well being as well.

Turn a Calm Mindset into a Calm Nervous System

When we feel stressed, we often breathe shallowly in our chests, limiting the amount of oxygen that our bodies inhale. Instead, we can practice deep breathing to calm our minds, as we also turn on our parasympathetic nervous system: the part of the body that is active in times of rest and recovery. This deep breathing, known as diaphragmatic breathing, is easy to accomplish, and can begin with the Mindshine exercise, “Let Anxiety Go.” You’ll be able to create a sense of calm and ease by intentionally making your breathing deeper and slower, from your belly and not from your chest. Doing so will allow you to inhale more oxygen, as you activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This will then tell your body that everything is alright. Applying this technique to any stressful situation will boost immunity, because the less stressed you are, the more optimal your immune functioning will be.

Relax Yourself to Sleep, and Improved Well Being

Just like stress, sleep deprivation can make our bodies more susceptible to illnesses by suppressing our immune systems. Of course, it’s not always easy to disengage from the busyness of our thoughts as we fall into a quick and peaceful slumber. But to prevent infection and inflammation, tonight we challenge you to catch the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep with Mindshine’s, “Relax Yourself to Sleep,” exercise. By having you practice guided visualization and intentional tensing and relaxing of specific body areas, the exercise will help you ease into the sensations of your body, and into deep sleep. Learn to enjoy the feelings of relaxation, and soothe your mind to sleep. Your immune system will be kept in tip top, fighting shape, and your overall well being will improve.

Use a Positive Attitude to Strengthen Immunity

Having a positive attitude has been correlated with stronger cell-mediated immunity, the stream of immune cells that respond to invading foreign pathogens. Achieve optimal mental, as well as physical, health, by taking the time to practice mindfulness and focusing on all that enriches your life. Mindshine’s exercise, “Day Dream,” will train you to be more positive by revisiting the best experience that you had on a vacation or trip that you took, with all five of your senses. Reproducing memories from the time you danced all night in New Orleans, or soaked up the sun in Aruba, reproduces the physiological state that you were in as if you were re-experiencing that time right now. With a little training, you can tap into miraculous feelings, and endless optimism. Your brain will become trained to be more positive, and your immunity will be boosted.

In Conclusion

Our mental state of being has a great impact on our physical wellness, especially our immune functioning. Improving our mindset, sleep schedule, and positivity are only a few ways that our immune functioning can be enhanced; so that we’re always ready to fight off stress, as well as invading pathogens. For additional immunity boosting Mindshine exercises, check out “Worry Free Zone,” “Stress Less Mantra,” and “Health Blessings.” Your mind, and immune system, will thank you.

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