Whether you’re driving the kids to after-school clubs, trying to make partner at a major law firm, or both, it’s hard to find people who don’t consider themselves extremely busy.

Even retired people complain that we have to work too much. The dark side to the ever-increasing pace of our lives is the amount of stress we are putting ourselves through.

A work crisis hits, the Wi-Fi goes down, the plane is delayed and we’re left feeling crazy—and our bodies produce more of the stress hormone cortisol than it needs.

To be healthy, you need to be calm.

Candle meditation is a great way to de-stress for beginners.  The more you practice, the easier it becomes.

Candle meditation is a great way to de-stress for beginners. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.

Today, in the second part of my tips on how to live a long and healthy life, I’ll explain why stress hurts us.

Have you ever wondered why you get a cold or flu when you finally take a break? Every stomach-churning and stressful moment we put ourselves through hurts our defenses.

Our immune system is constantly under attack and we are usually healthy because the trillions of cells in our body are always at work to keep us safe.

But when our body is exposed to a lot of chemicals – and this includes hormones released during times of excessive stress – our strongest immune system can become weakened if overloaded, and this breakdown can lead to chronic inflammation.

As the Daily Mail explained yesterday, any threat – bacteria, toxins, wounds, even the temperature – damages our tissues as part of an immune response.

This is usually only temporary and compression is essential to stimulate the body’s self-defense and healing process.

But in some cases, the inflammation can be prolonged and cause DNA damage because too many immune cells (white blood cells) hear the body’s call and join the fight.

Sometimes these cells attack our own organs or healthy tissues and cells.

Those attacks can age our tissues, erode our overall health, and in some cases lead to autoimmune conditions like celiac disease or multiple sclerosis. Researchers call this response ‘inflammaging’ (inflammation plus aging).

How stress accelerates the aging process

Within 30 minutes, stressful thoughts weaken your immune response

Within 30 minutes, stressful thoughts weaken your immune response

When you are stressed, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol. In the short term, cortisol reduces inflammation. However, if you’re constantly stressed and develop high levels of cortisol, your body adjusts to high levels of this hormone, which eventually leads to inflammation — and inflammation. This lowers your resistance to infection.

Within 30 minutes, stressful thoughts weaken your immune response.

Cortisol, involved in chronic stress, is associated with increased appetite and weight gain. Overeating can lead to unhealthy snacks or excessive alcohol consumption. Both malnutrition and weakened immunity. This is why maintaining a healthy cortisol balance is important.

Cortisol is your body’s emergency room, there for momentary crises but not a substitute for daily good habits. Managing stress by reducing its causes—toxic thoughts, places, people—can help unlock the secrets to better immune health and reduced inflammation.

Everyone experiences stress differently, so you can reduce it in a variety of ways, including breathing exercises and meditation.

Try these proven methods to help you deal with the problem.

Put out the fires that annoy you

Breathe like a lion

A deep breathing technique called Simhasana in Sanskrit, Lion’s Breath helps relax the muscles of the face and jaw, relieve stress, and improve your cardiovascular function.

Sit, lean forward slightly, hands on your knees or on the floor. Spread your fingers as wide as possible on your knees.

Breathe in through your nose. Open your mouth wide, stick your tongue out and point it towards your chin.

Hold the breath under your tongue and exhale forcefully. As you inhale, make an ‘A’ sound from deep in your belly.

Breathe normally for a few minutes. Repeat up to seven times.

Meditation eliminates what psychologists call the ‘monkey mind’, that constant state of stress and anxiety that creates mental chaos. When you meditate, you sweep away that disorder. The goal is to be invisible, unreachable – even for just ten minutes a day.

Your body already has the tools to meditate and use them. The reticular activating system (RAS) – a network of neurons in the brain – determines how we perceive and respond to the external world. Broadly speaking, it controls your consciousness by keeping track of all the information you gather through your senses.

For example, in a loud restaurant, with a friend or partner, you can tune out all the extraneous noise to focus on your conversation. That’s your RAS in action. It lets your mind work in the background, keeping your systems active without flooding them with constant sensory input.

Your RAS creates an intentional filter for your chosen focus. It judges through the senses and reveals only what is important. You can use the power of your RAS to focus on the moment.

Try to look at a glowing candle

Candle meditation is great for beginners. Light a candle and dim the lights so the fire becomes the focal point of the room. Place the candle on the table at eye level and sit in front of it, 2 feet away. Keep your back straight to allow your diaphragm full range of motion.

Set a timer for ten or 15 minutes. Take two deep, slow breaths. Relax and release any tension in your body.

Just focus on the fire. Watch as it shimmers, changes shape, emits a halo, and shines different colors. If your mind wanders, don’t worry. Just return it to the fire.

You may need to clear your mind more often. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.

Master of the art of deep breathing

When you breathe in, blood cells take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, which removes waste products.

When you breathe in, blood cells take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, which removes waste products.

When you breathe in, blood cells take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, which expels waste. When you take a deep breath, air fills your lungs and your lower abdomen rises. But many of us cannot breathe deeply and this limits the movement of the diaphragm, as a result of which the lower part of the lungs does not get enough oxygenated air.

As a result, you may feel short of breath or anxious. Shortness of breath interferes with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, causing fatigue, shock, and other physical and emotional problems.

Deep breathing, on the other hand, can lower or stabilize your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. To do this, you need to breathe deeply and slowly.

4-7-8: A Method You Can Trust

This exercise naturally relaxes your nervous system. Until you get it under control, your back stays straight. After that you can do it while lying in bed.

Place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth. Breathe fully through your mouth, making a sparkling sound.

Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose silently to the count of four.

Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale fully through your mouth, again making a good sound, to a count of eight. Repeat three times.

Make sure you get a good nightcap

Sleep may not seem like the first thing, but while you are resting, many important activities take place in your body, including the production of molecules that fight infection. Sleep is as important as food and water for optimal physical and mental health.

Less than seven hours puts you at risk of all the negative effects you can imagine, but more than seven hours gives your body enough time to reset.

Lack of sleep, which has tripled in recent decades, has contributed to the obesity epidemic, in part because of the disruption of hormones — including those that regulate hunger — that occur when sleep is interrupted.

Unfortunately, obesity affects the immune system, which opens the door to diseases and illnesses.

A few nights of poor sleep won’t ruin your overall health, but chronic sleep deprivation can lead to increased calorie intake, weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other problems.

Imagine a marshy road carved by countless wheels over the centuries. If a vehicle goes slightly east, it will not change course. If several thousand cars drive east, they create a new corridor that takes future drivers to another destination.

When it’s time to sleep, your circadian clock sets the process.

At different times during your sleep-wake cycle, your brain releases different hormones, including adrenaline, cortisol, histamine, and norepinephrine, that prevent sleep to wake you up, but if you’re under severe stress, your body produces more. Of these hormones, especially cortisol.

Studies show that lack of sleep affects memory, motor skills and the brain. But you have the power to change all that.

The following daily habits will help you get a better night’s rest.

Get the sun

Daylight has a profound effect on circadian rhythms. Daily exposure to sunlight helps synchronize your internal clock.

Energy consumption

Exercise benefits cardiovascular health and sleep quality. You don’t have to be a triathlete to reap the benefits. Even a moderate walk can help and is a great way to get some daylight exposure.

Limit artificial lights

Turn off the TV an hour before you want to sleep. Dim indoor lighting or use low-wattage lighting.

If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or smartphone, consider getting glasses that protect against blue light, which can cause retinal damage.

Avoid psychoactive drugs

This includes a wide range of drugs containing caffeine, alcohol and psychoactive substances. Talk to your doctor about any medications that may interfere with your rest.

Just relax

It sounds simple, but in the go-go-go world, we often forget to relax. A warm bath or yoga can help you relax, as can meditation and deep breathing.

Before going to bed, avoid intense reading material. Instead of activating your intelligence, you want to unplug.

© Dr. Leo Nisola

  • Adapted by Libby Galvin from The Vaccine Solution: Seven Weeks to a Healthier, Longer Life by Dr Leo Nisola, published on February 10 by Countryman Press at £23.99. To order a copy for £21.59 (offer valid until 12th February 2023; free UK p&p on orders over 20) visit mailshop.co.uk/books Or call 020 3176 2937.

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