Yes! The thoughts that run through your head cause neurons to fire and neurochemicals to be released. What happens in your head has real repercussions for your body. Science has proven that many mental practices physically boost your immune system.
The act of smiling boosts your immune system because you’re more relaxed, with less cortisol and more happy neurochemicals. One study even found that smiling helps your body produce white blood cells to fight illness. Even a fake smile has benefits.
Laughter is more than just fun and games. It’s beneficial for your mind and body. In fact, studies have shown that laughter increases the number of T-cells in your body and boosts your immune system.
Listening to music
A review of scientific studies on music and health determined that listening to music has many benefits for your body and mind. In addition to reducing anxiety and helping many aspects of mental health, music can also boost your immune system in the following ways:
- Listening to music was better than prescription medications in reducing stress before surgery.
- Music listeners had higher numbers of an immune cell type called “natural killer cells,” whose job it is to attack bacteria, infected cells, and cancerous cells.
- Listening to music reduced levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has many physiological effects.
Mindfulness is just a way of thinking. Being mindful means that you become aware of the workings of your mind, at that moment. When practicing mindfulness, you deliberately direct your awareness back into the now and focus your attention there. Science shows mindfulness reduces stress, anxiety, and improves many other mental health conditions.
The thoughts, words, and images that run through your mind have very real physiological consequences for your body. Your brain sends the same messages to the central nervous system whether something is being imagined or actually experienced. Visualisation, or creative imagery, can be used in any situation. Studies have shown visualisation successful at improving and strengthening the immune system. On the other hand, prolonged stress and worry elevate cortisol levels, weaken your immune system, and cause inflammation. By stressing out about the virus, you are actually hurting your body’s ability to fight it.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. It will decrease anxiety and stress and strengthen your immune system.
Reading has multiple benefits for your brain and mental health. On a physical level, reading stimulates your brain, improves connectivity, function, and memory. It can even help you sleep more soundly. Emotionally and mentally, science shows reading relieves stress.
Instead of focusing only on what is wrong and scary, you could intentionally look for and remind yourself of the good that is present in your life. The benefits of gratitude are physical and mental. It changes the neurochemicals in your brain increasing happiness while decreasing cortisol and stress.
Every single aspect of your physical and mental health is affected by sleep – for better or worse. Mentally, not getting enough sleep escalates anxiety and depression. Physically, research shows that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, and not sleeping enough can prolong recovery.
Doses of sunshine can boost your mental and physical health. The sun’s UV rays help your body make Vitamin D, which is important for your bones, blood cells, and immune system. Natural sunlight helps your body set its circadian rhythms, which can also aid in sleeping more soundly. Sunlight boosts the production of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin greatly influences your mood and more of it can give you more energy and help keep you calm, positive, and focused.