There has been quite a shift over the last few years that seems to have brought self-care into the spotlight and shown the importance of taking care of ourselves. And while there are numerous benefits to having a regular self-care practice, one you may not have considered is that it’s actually an amazing way to give your immune system a boost.
Lack of sleep, anxiety, vitamin deficiencies, certain medications, a lack of nutrient-dense foods, a high (bad) fat diet, and lack of exercise, all can increase levels of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Short bursts and small increased levels of these are quite beneficial, but maintaining chronic high levels of them – as many people do - can actually suppress the immune system and lead to widespread, uncontrolled inflammation within the body. This not only increases your chances of catching common infections, but also puts you at risk for developing autoimmune conditions.
While the pampering aspect of self-care is nice, the bubble baths and trips to the beach, the whole idea behind self-care is that you’re taking time out of your day on a regular basis, to take care of yourself in a positive way. That doesn’t always have to involve some lavish experience, but it does mean you’re doing something good for your body and mind.
Regular self-care practices can decrease these levels, giving your body a break from this inflammatory response and leading to a healthier, more balanced immune system. So, while self-care can definitely involve bubble baths and beach trips, it’s also taking care of your body’s needs that all-too-often get overlooked in the hustle of everyday life.
It can be taking a 15-minute nap when you have an extra-long day. It can mean choosing a salad over the greasy burger you really want because you know you haven’t made the best food choices lately and your body needs a few extra veggies. Self-care is saying no to an event because you don’t need anything else on your plate. It’s taking a walk outside to catch a little bit of sun as the seasons change. It’s waking up early in the morning so you can get a workout in because you know your body and mind need it. It’s getting regular massages1 because you know you’re physically and mentally stressed. It can even be pushing through your to-do list when all you want to do is relax, because you know you need to stop this stuff from hanging over your head and stressing you out. And yes, it’s taking that bubble bath and going on a getaway when you can.
So what are you doing today to take care of yourself and give your immune system a kick?
1 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C.
Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy.
Int J Neurosci. 2005 Oct;115(10):1397-413. doi: 10.1080/00207450590956459. PMID: 16162447.
Kim is an always thinking, sometimes creative, and self-declared master of cliché comparisons. In her second career as a Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master-Teacher, Polarity Therapy Practitioner, Herbalist, and Meditation Guide, she has finally stepped into her dream role of helping people find their ideal wellness. Kim is the mother of two amazing, talented, caring, and compassionate adult children, daughter to her New England Patriots fanatic mother, and just has that knack for intuitively knowing what burning questions you have about life, massage therapy and energy work. Kim's blog topics range from everyday observations to thoughtfully researched topics - with everything in between.