The Emotional Immune Connection

Dr. TonyNSA

Most people know me as a fairly easy-going person, calm and peaceful and are often surprised to find out that I can have a temper. It wasn’t always this way. Before I found Network Spinal Care, I was much more high strung but kept it hidden (or at least I thought I did). I had learned during my life to hold back emotion, to stifle myself, even being able to stop myself from crying if I felt emotion welling up inside. And my body was very, very tense. I also used to have asthma, I used to get sick fairly often with colds and flus and I had much more pain in my body than I do now. When I was a student in chiropractic school, I learned about a fundamental system that connects emotions, tension, and immunity and how by improving our emotional health, our immune system can be optimized. And this is how I was able to help myself.

To continue our immune system discussion from last week, we will take a look at the Emotional Immune Connection.

There is something that connects the limbic or emotional brain and the immune system. This something is also connected to our hormones and our spinal muscles. It’s called the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This is the component of the nervous system that is always running in the background, like an app on your smartphone. It also controls heart rate, breathing and digestion to name a few.

When we feel fear, worry and anger, the ANS creates a fight or flight reaction in our bodies consequently increasing blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and amping up tension in muscles, particularly those of the spine. Through the ANS, these emotions also turn down the immune system. Like a dimmer switch they bring down our immunity making us more susceptible. 

Understanding these processes in the body helps us see why attempting to boost our immunity, without addressing the health of our nervous system, will likely be unsuccessful.

“Stressing yourself out” by focusing on feelings and thoughts of fear, worry and anger create this fight/flight reaction. 

But we know that other emotions such as awe, joy and gratitude change the body’s biochemistry allowing the immune system to ramp up and to fight bacteria and viruses.

With the current crisis most of us have been experiencing the fight/flight reaction. We’re either sick or trying not to get sick. Many of us are losing our income and security and the future is completely up in the air. It is normal that we are feeling fear, worry and anger. However we want to be able to shift this so we won’t dig ourselves even deeper by bringing down our immune system.

So how can we help ourselves?

By focusing not just on our emotions but also by addressing the tension that we’re feeling in our bodies. It is possible to shift yourself out of the fear response and find stillness, safety and a knowing that we will be alright.

Click here to listen to a guided meditative movement.

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