One of the reasons why chronic, self-inflicted stress that is caused by the mind is so bad for us, is because it doesn’t just involve the mind. It very much involves the body. The brain activates the stress response because of our thinking or our external environment. And then a cascade of biological reactions takes place. If this occurs time and time again, these reactions do more harm than good. And one of these reactions is inflammation.
Inflammation in the short term is a very good thing. It is a part of the immune response in the body and involved in fighting off things like infections and healing wounds. The body does this by producing and releasing pro-inflamatory cytokines. Cells release these proteins to initiate the immune response in the presence of danger or harm.
When we are chronically stressed, the brain thinks we are chronically in danger, so these cytokines are produced over long periods of time. And when this occurs, our risk of things like disease, allergies, osteoporosis and diabetes goes up. As does our risk for sickness and various types of cancer.
Ways to Reduce Inflammation
But the good news is, stress in the short term is actually very beneficial to the brain and body. Things like exercise, learning a new skill, or taking on a challenge at work promote health and greater immune function. Ultimately, they help prevent chronic “bad” stress and inflammation.
Also, there are very simple and effective practices for reducing chronic, self-inflicted stress. These include meditation, mindfulness, sleep, journaling, breathing and vision techniques (all of which are described on this platform). In addition to these practices, there are certain kinds of foods that help to reduce inflammation in the body. However, these are not described directly on this platform (see the “people” tab for references).
So take some time today to practice better stress reduction and keep that inflammation down in the body. Again, it’s beneficial in the short term and for trauma or injury. But it’s a nasty byproduct of chronic stress that wreaks havoc on the body in the long term.
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