Relieve Stress to Relieve Allergies
September 4, 2015
By now the kids are back in school and you’re ready to get back to your normal daily routine, but is life leaving you a little frazzled? A new school year, and a new season means you have another opportunity to fight your worst allergy and asthma symptoms while relieving your stress. Sound too good to be true?
You know that reducing your stress levels is great for your heart, blood pressure, and mind, but did you know that stress also affects how severe your allergic reactions are? Stress can even cause allergic reactions! Experts now believe that stress can make every allergy symptom you may be suffering from worse, but relieving your symptoms could be as easy as taking some time to chill out. Read on.
Your body is finely tuned, and primed to react to stressful situations by keeping you alive. When you are experiencing a negative emotional reaction like stress, Hormones like cortisol and neurotransmitters like adrenaline are the first things your body produces when you’re stressed. But this isn’t always a bad thing. For acute stress, or if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, cortisol and adrenaline keep you alert and able to protect yourself against the immediate danger at hand. Using these hormones and neurotransmitters for a short period of time is a great thing, but when your body starts producing these long-term, it begins to become a problem.
Chronic stress, or the long-term production of these chemicals begins to wear down other systems in your body, such as your immune system, making you less able to successfully fight off allergens or irritants. If you are very stressed out for an extended period of time, long-term damage and disease can severely impact your body’s overall health and quality of life. Inflammation, for example, is a common effect of your body under stress. Inflammation of sensitive tissues, like your nasal passages, can spur on common airway diseases like sinusitis when the body is overly stressed.
Massage & Meditation
You already know exercising is great for your health and for helping you relax and sleep better, but have you thought about getting regular massages? Massages have been proven to lower stress, and if you’re exercising regularly, a massage increases blood flow and circulation, speeding up muscle repair priming you for your next workout. The best part is that you can use some of these massage techniques on yourself. Tapping your fingers in a circle or kneading the sternum has been shown to relieve sinus pressure, while providing an almost meditative action to calm your thoughts for a little while. Of course, meditation is also an excellent stress-buster.
Meditation, long touted for it’s mental benefits, also lowers stress by clearing your mind and helping you focus on the present. When you get stressed, your brain is sent into overdrive. Thinking about a million things all the time is no way to get anything productive done, but meditation is like hitting the reset button on your brain. It gives it time to rest and when you’re ready to get back to whatever task you have before you, you’ll work better and smarter. Start by sitting in a chair with a straight back with your feet planted on the floor, or crossed-legged on the floor. Rest your hands on your thighs, and close your mouth, and eyes. Relax your tongue in your mouth and let there be a gap between your teeth. Focus on your breathing and the bridge of your nose, rather than your thoughts. Start out by sitting and breathing for a few minutes and build from there.
You may not have thought of this one, but writing down your troubles can help you work through them. Writing out your feelings or thoughts that keep running through your mind gets them out of your head and onto paper where you can see them clearly. Seeing your thoughts helps you to be able to work through them, or find solutions to problems you’ve been facing.
If you are going to try journaling, here are some good things to get you started:
- Be consistent, and set a goal for your writing. A few pages or a few minutes, just stick with it!
- Don’t edit while you go. Just write, and keep writing. No one else will read it but you, so it doesn’t matter if that sentence doesn’t make sense or you have misspelled words.
- Write freely. It’s important to freely express your emotions or thoughts. If you’re holding back, you won’t get the stress or allergic relief you’re seeking! Again, no one else will read it so write exactly what you’re feeling.
Know that lowering your stress levels will involve making some lifestyle changes, but those changes will be worth it for your allergy and asthma symptoms as well as your overall health. If you’d like to speak with an expert about making a holistic health plan, including stress relief, contact your local BreatheAmerica center.