Boost Immunity by Reducing Stress
How To
17 November 2020

We live in a world that thrives on our stress. And whilst it may be the norm to feel like you should just keep going and going, our immune systems are compromised by chronic stress. This pressure to keep working, moving and doing can make us feel guilty when we want to rest. When in fact this way of “living” is not aligned with our natural circadian rhythm.  

Stress is the feeling that we have too many things to do and not enough time. You may feel anxious, frustrated, irritable, worried or full of self-doubt. We are adaptable creatures and can easily adjust to stress being a normal part of our lives, but over time, this stress and these feelings take a toll on our bodies and especially our immune systems. 

Understand your stressors 

The first step to reducing stress is understanding and acknowledging how much stress we are experiencing on a regular basis. Have you been under significant stress for weeks, or perhaps months or years? Significant stress constitutes having gone through any of the following major life changes. 

  • Moving home
  • Changes in work or finances - loss of work, retirement or starting a new job, bankruptcy or a major change in finances 
  • Changes in relationships - a divorce or separation from a partner, new marriage 
  • Death or illness - death or major illness of a close family member or friend, major personal injury or illness 

Other indicators tied to too much stress: 

  • Energy levels - do you constantly feel fatigued or sluggish?  
  • Moods - do you regularly experience low moods? Do you feel constantly oversensitive and overwhelmed? Do you have difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly?  
  • Food - do you crave sweets or carbohydrates? Or feel like you have no willpower over food? Is it challenging to get up and go in the morning? Or perhaps you often skip meals because you’re too busy to eat?  
  • Sleep - do you have difficulty falling asleep? Do you wake up in middle of the night and find it’s hard to fall back to sleep?  

If you’ve answered yes to more than three of the questions above, it could be a sign you’re under chronic stress. So how do we fix this?  

Get quality rest 

Sleep is so important because during sleep your body repairs and regenerates tissue, nerves, cells and boosts your immune and endocrine systems. Your digestive system also rests and repairs during this time. Without proper sleep, our overall health is compromised, but our immune system is particularly vulnerable.  

Ideally we should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. And whilst this is true, the quality of this sleep is equally important. How well you sleep affects your mood whilst your mood affects how well you sleep. Unfortunately, this can be a vicious cycle because if you’re stressed you might not sleep well and not sleeping well can make you feel more stressed. 

Some tips that help: 

  • Set an earlier bedtime. Try to sleep by 10 pm!
  • Wind down well before you settle into bed 
  • Create an evening self-care routine to help you unwind 
  • Choose reading a book before bed rather than looking at your phone or watching screens 

Eat healthy 

Try eating foods high in fibre and full of vitamins and minerals, these include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pulses and legumes.  

Some tips that help: 

  • Focus on foods with a variety of colour to ensure you’re getting a variety of phytonutrients
  • Avoid processed foods, too much salt, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol as much as possible 
  • Make sure you’re hydrating properly 


Exercise allows you to focus on your body’s movements, which can help you forget all the worries in your life, or at least for that half hour. Exercise can boost production of endorphins, increase energy and even optimism. Over time, exercise can help improve your mood. It can help you relax, reduce anxiety. It can also help you sleep better. All these benefits can also increase your self-confidence and give you a sense of command over your life. 

Some tips that help: 

  • Start small – even 10 minutes of brisk walking a day can help 
  • Find a buddy – exercising with someone can help you stick to it 
  • Do something you like - this will help with your motivation
  • Relaxation 

No matter how stressed you are, it’s important to carve out some time to unwind and take care of yourself. If you don’t make time to take care of yourself, no one will.  

If you’re already stressed it can feel overwhelming to carve out time and space to do something for yourself. We suggest starting small – with 5 or 10 minutes and stick to it so that naturally you’ll feel better. Eventually you’ll be able to increase this time naturally. 

Some tips that help:  

  • Do some deep breathing 
  • Download a meditation app – and use it! 
  • Create a morning ritual to help you start the day with the right frame of mind 
  • Or create an evening ritual to help you unwind
  • Light candles
  • Use aromatherapy
  • Run a hot bath
  • Plan a spa day