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Are You Worried Sick?

Are You Worried Sick?

During fall and winter – peak seasons for sickness – vitamin C pills, herbal supplements and elderberry syrup go flying off the shelves. While focusing on vitamins and supplements can do some good, don’t overlook a major threat to your immune system: stress.

“Stress causes changes in your body that make it difficult to fight infection,” said Eugene Sun, DM, medical director and psychiatrist at Archbold Northside Center for Behavioral and Psychiatric Care. “People who are stressed may have fewer natural killer cells, which help ward off viruses. Chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors that hurt your immune system, such as getting less sleep at night or drinking too much alcohol.”

Address Your Stress

Here are four healthy ways to reduce stress and help strengthen your immune system:

  1. Focus on relationships. Having good friends can help lessen the stress of negative events. Schedule time for family and friends that offer love and support through stressful days.
  2. Get more exercise. Exercise offers double benefits for immunity. It helps your immune system stay strong while also being a great way to relieve stress. Exercise also provides endorphins that are a natural mood booster.
  3. Head out in nature. You may be surprised how a walk outdoors in the sunshine helps lower stress. Go outside for a refreshing change of scenery.
  4. Take a break from social media and the news. The news can be similar to a car crash: it’s upsetting to watch yet difficult to look away. If social media or the news is causing more stress and anxiety in your life, consider taking a break or limiting your time spent online. Plan relaxing activities instead, such as reading a book to crafting.

“These past two years have been challenging for many of us,” Dr. Sun said. “While you can’t avoid stress completely, learning strategies to manage stress effectively can help protect your health. And if worry and anxiety ever get to be more than you can handle, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional for help.”

Talk to your doctor about behavioral health services. Find a provider at