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How Does Stress Impact Us?

man struggles with stress

Have you noticed that when we slow down, we often find ourselves getting sick? Getting sick really throws a wrench in our recovery. We have less structure and more downtime as we try to rest and recover from a cold. This can be a negative thing for many of us that thrive on a structure for our recovery and sobriety. Continue reading to learn more about why we sometimes get sick when we slow down and how we can change this pattern.   

Juggling Our Daily Life

Our lives are jam-packed with responsibilities at home, work, and school. We often feel like we have too much on our plate, but we must push through and complete as much as we can. Because of this, we crave a break and look forward to the weekend or a day off. Unfortunately, we sometimes come down with a cold once we finally stop and take a break. “Why is it always when we stop that we get sick?” questions Lucy Maddox, consultant clinical psychologist and author of “How to avoid boom and bust” for In The Moment magazine. She explains that research shows that our stress levels and our immune system are linked  

Stress, Immune System, Thoughts, and Feelings

Kavita Vedhara, professor of health psychology at the University of Nottingham notes that “The immune system is very primitive. The same system that helps us fight off colds today is the one we evolved millions of years ago.” She explains that it evolved from having to run from saber-toothed tigers, but that is no longer the case. “In these situations, we needed to run fast, fight, or play dead in order to survive,” Vedhara explains. “So the immune system evolved in a way in which it switches everything else off in order to be able to engage in fight or flight. The trouble is, that our stresses nowadays go on for much longer. Our saber-toothed tigers are now chronic stresses like work pressures, unhelpful relationships and financial worries.” When these stressors are long-lasting, the body is flooded with stress hormones which “directly communicate with the immune system and can regulate how it works. Most often this results in a lowering of immune surveillance when we are under stress.” This long-lasting stress takes a toll, leaving us susceptible to getting sick once our stress levels go down.   

Quick Tips

Maddox gives four quick tips to help you listen to your body and help keep you from over-stressing yourself so you do not get sick easily:

  1. “If you’re over-stressed, try to work out what’s in your control or not — and work to problem-solve and make changes to the bits you can.
  2. Build-in positive ‘reward’ even if your schedule is busy. It can be something super short — a 10-minute walk in the park, a good coffee — but make sure you do something pleasurable each day.
  3. Don’t ignore your body’s signals that it needs a rest — it’s your immune system working, and it’s a good thing.
  4. Set aside some time to look ahead and plan in soothing activities and rest time.”


Arbor Behavioral Healthcare is here to help you manage your time so that you don’t over-stress yourself. This will help keep your physical health in good shape, too. Call us now for more information at 844-413-2690. We can’t wait to hear from you!