Unintended Consequences: Stress and Illness

A few weeks ago, my stress levels were higher than they’ve been for a long time. My Garmin reminded me daily that I needed to relax, and yet it wasn’t quite that easy. It’s kind of like when you can’t fall asleep and you just keep reminding yourself that you need sleep, you can never fall asleep in those situations.

Fast forward a few weeks, when my stress levels were finally normalizing, and my Garmin stopped freaking out, and I wake up one morning feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. Fever, body aches, cough, sore throat, throbbing head. The whole she-bang.

As I thought about it, this phenomenon happens to me fairly often. Others tend to see it as when you have time to slow down, your body knows it can get sick. But, it turns out, there’s scientific evidence that your body is more susceptible to illness, even when you factor in other reasons you could become sick.

I’m not at all surprised. I feel like I can tie every major illness I’ve had back to stress, including the time that my jaw locked in my first semester of business school during finals (although losing 15 pounds because I couldn’t chew for a month wasn’t so terrible), and again 2nd semester when I ended up hospitalized with pneumonia. But it begs the question, if I’ve made progress with dealing with stress, what more do I need to do? Clearly a lot, but progress is progress.

So, one of my goals for the year will be to force myself to make time,
when things get crazy, for workouts, and yoga. What are some of your stress relief tips?

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