How to Boost Your Immune System by Tackling Stress on All Fronts

Have you ever had a stressful week, the kind where you’re pulling your hair out and barely sleeping, and then catch a cold within days? There’s a reason why stressed people get sick more often. Stress lowers your body’s defenses so that you’re vulnerable to bacteria and viruses.

The mind and body are so interwoven. Emotional stress can cause physical and biochemical stress within the body. But, many don’t know that the opposite is true as well. Research is showing that biochemical and physical stress can create more emotional stress. These three types of stress can feed into each other, leading to a vicious cycle. Once you’re caught in this cycle, it can be so difficult to break out of it.

Between cold and flu season, this is an important time to boost your immune system. In this busy time of year, practicing self-care is necessary. If you’re experiencing uncontrolled stress, you need to treat it holistically. I’m here to support you through this process and give my best tips for tackling stress on all fronts.

“It is never really the case that stress makes you sick, or even increases your risk of being sick. Stress increases your risk of getting diseases that make you sick, or if you have such a disease, stress increases the risk of your defenses being overwhelmed by the disease.” – Dr. Robert Sapolsky

How does stress affect the immune system? 

Stress has its roots in our evolution as a species. Our ability to respond to threats is a survival response. Think about it – if you’re being chased by a tiger, you have an emotional response. But you also immediately have a physical and biochemical response as well. This is the activation of your sympathetic nervous system, and is often called your fight-or-flight response. Your body pumps more blood to your muscles and heart so that you’re physically prepared to “face the tiger”. 

These days, most of us aren’t facing tigers. Most of our threats are non-physical, yet we’re still having a physical response. The threats of the modern world tend to be more chronic, such as a stressful work environment or family situation. Many people are spending most of their entire lives in a constant survival response, and they may not even know it because it’s been their norm for so long.

How does emotional stress lead to physical and biochemical changes?

When you experience a stressful event, you’re most likely aware of your emotional response. You might become anxious or upset. There are also physical changes that occur because of sympathetic activation. Your nervous system is closely linked to your endocrine and immune systems.1  When you experience stress, you disrupt all three of these systems.2 This happens through a few different pathways:

  1. Sympathetic nerve fibers come from the brain into the lymphoid tissues. When your stress response turns on, these nerve fibers can release substances that bind to white blood cell receptors.2
  2. Stress can cause the production of proinflammatory cytokines, leading to a less efficient immune system.1
  3. Stress disrupts the delicate balance of hormones within your body, which can worsen your immune function.2
  4. Many people respond to stress by eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, and not sleeping. This can cause more inflammation and damage to the immune system.3

Psychological, physical and biochemical stress can interplay and feed into each other. This can cause a downward spiral of stress, inflammation, and weakened immune response.

As we’ve discussed, stress causes inflammation in the body. If this inflammation becomes chronic, it can actually cause changes to your brain. Inflammation can alter your fear regulation and emotional response.4 As a result, you won’t be able to cope with stress as well, leading to more stress. This is why it’s so necessary to take a holistic approach to bring down stress levels.

How do I tackle stress?

Because there can be so many factors at play, you must tackle stress on all fronts – physical, emotional/mental, and biochemical. Efforts should target reducing inflammation, balancing the nervous system, and getting your immune system back online. Here are my best recommendations for strategies and methods to reduce the impact of stress…

How to Reduce Physical Stress

Your physical body is like a luxury vehicle that needs regular maintenance. As you age, you’ll naturally have some wear and tear. Aging alone may cause increased inflammation.5 Fortunately, there are many treatments that can help.

  • Regular physical activity – Exercise can reduce fat mass, which brings down inflammation in the tissues.5 
  • Massage therapy – Massage can help reduce muscle damage and inflammation after exercise.6 It’s also a great way to relax and balance your nervous system.
  • Chiropractic care – If you think about it, a large part of your nervous system lives in your spinal column. Evidence shows that chiropractic care helps with nervous system regulation.7
  • Epsom salt baths – Magnesium is a mineral that plays a vital role in the health of your brain and nervous system. Taking Epsom salt baths allows for magnesium sulfate to enter your body through the skin.8
  • Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, involves full-body cold exposure. Research supports that it can reduce muscle damage and tissue inflammation.9
  • Infrared sauna – A recent study of over 2000 men showed that sauna therapy reduced levels of C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker in the body).10 Infrared saunas allow you to achieve these results at lower temperatures than regular saunas.
  • IV drip therapy – IV therapy can give you a boost of minerals and nutrients you may need to detoxify and reduce inflammation.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) – HBOT helps your immune system in a few different ways. It sends more oxygen into the tissues and blocks toxins in certain bacteria. It also boosts the functioning of your white blood cells.11

If you’re interested in trying any of these treatments, check out Restore Hyper Wellness. Restore offers cryotherapy, IV drip therapy, HBOT, and more. My clients receive 15% off of your first treatment.

How to Reduce Emotional Stress

What if I told you that a stressful event didn’t have to throw you into a spiral of anxiety? This may seem far-fetched because most of us were never taught how to regulate our own emotions. This is why so many people turn to substances, unhealthy food, or other negative coping skills. To bounce back from stress, you need to learn how to regulate your own emotions. The best skill I’ve learned for this is HeartMath.

Heartmath changed my life. I used to be absolutely terrified of public speaking – vomiting and sweating profusely before any kind of engagement. Now I actually find these opportunities fun and exciting. 

Heartmath taps into the power of the neural connection between your heart and brain. Your heart rhythm varies based on your emotional state, which sends signals to your brain.13 In Heartmath, you’ll learn how to self-activate a positive emotion and sustain it. This kicks your heart into “coherence”, which is highly ordered and rhythmic. 

Heart coherence helps to regulate many of the systems in your body, including your nervous system. Achieving coherence is a state of optimal performance, and there are many studies supporting this.13 I’ve even helped a client close on a multi-million dollar deal after learning Heartmath.

Heartmath can be a powerful tool to help regulate your own emotional response to stress. Learn more about the science behind Heartmath, and feel free to reach out with any questions. I’m able to teach Heartmath to your company, to your family, group, club or privately.

How to Reduce Biochemical Stress

Stress can induce biochemical imbalance in the body and gut microbiome. Keeping this microbiome healthy is key in the treatment of stress.

Your gut bacteria plays a huge role in mental health and stress regulation. Stress can trigger the growth of bad bacteria in your gut,  leading to leaky gut.13 This means that your gut lining becomes more permeable (or “leaky”) and allows bacteria to enter your bloodstream. This drives an inflammatory response and can further worsen stress and depression.13 

To best support gut health, make sure you’re getting the best nutrition possible. Probiotics may help to restore good bacteria in your gut.14 You also want to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and sunshine as well.

Leaky gut is so bio-individual, and you may need a specific dietary approach to help heal it. If you think you may have leaky gut, consider testing with Ixcela. Ixcela is an at-home test that identifies imbalances in the metabolites of your gut microbiome. Test results will help you identify the specific changes you need to improve leaky gut. If you’re interested in Ixcela testing:

  1. Go to http://go.ixcela.com/enroll and click on “Get Started”
  2. Enter my code ThriveResults for a special discount
  3. Complete the checkout process

You should get test results back in about two weeks. If you need help in interpreting your results, I’m able to provide further guidance! We can work together to come up with the best nutrition plan to address your specific imbalances.

Need more support?

Stress can be absolutely devastating to your health and immune system. If you’ve been struggling with stress and related health issues, it can feel like swimming upstream. Stress can easily become a vicious cycle that feels impossible to escape. Know that you don’t have to go through this alone, and it may be necessary to seek out support. I recognize the importance of addressing the true root causes of stress, and I’m here to help in any way I can.

To get started with scheduling and completing intake forms, please click this link: https://secure.gethealthie.com/users/sign_up/clients?provider_id=271482&invite_code=52421d 

If you already have an account set up in my portal, please log in with your email at www.gethealthie.com 

To your health & success,



  1. Glaser, R., & Kiecolt-glaser, J. (2009, July 18). Stress damages immune system and health. Discovery Medicine. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.discoverymedicine.com/Ronald-Glaser/2009/07/18/stress-damages-immune-system-and-health/.
  2. Segerstrom, S. C., & Miller, G. E. (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin130(4), 601–630. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.601 
  3. Segerstrom, S. C., & Miller, G. E. (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin130(4), 601–630. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.601 
  4. Michopoulos, V., Powers, A., Gillespie, C. F., Ressler, K. J., & Jovanovic, T. (2016). Inflammation in fear- and anxiety-based disorders: PTSD, GAD, and beyond. Neuropsychopharmacology42(1), 254–270. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2016.146 
  5. Woods, J. A., Wilund, K. R., Martin, S. A., & Kistler, B. M. (2012). Exercise, inflammation and aging. Aging and disease, 3(1), 130–140.
  6. Dupuy, O., Douzi, W., Theurot, D., Bosquet, L., & Dugué, B. (2018). An evidence-based approach for choosing post-exercise recovery techniques to reduce markers of muscle damage, soreness, fatigue, and inflammation: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Frontiers in Physiology9https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00403 
  7. Kiani, A. K., Maltese, P. E., Dautaj, A., Paolacci, S., Kurti, D., Picotti, P. M., & Bertelli, M. (2020). Neurobiological basis of chiropractic manipulative treatment of the spine in the care of major depression. Acta bio-medica : Atenei Parmensis, 91(13-S), e2020006. https://doi.org/10.23750/abm.v91i13-S.10536
  8. Kirkland, A. E., Sarlo, G. L., & Holton, K. F. (2018). The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients, 10(6), 730. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10060730
  9. Rose, C., Edwards, K. M., Siegler, J., Graham, K., & Caillaud, C. (2017). Whole-body Cryotherapy as a Recovery Technique after Exercise: A Review of the Literature. International journal of sports medicine, 38(14), 1049–1060. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0043-114861
  10. Laukkanen, J. A., & Laukkanen, T. (2018). Sauna bathing and systemic inflammation. European journal of epidemiology, 33(3), 351–353. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-017-0335-y
  11. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy
  12. The Science of HeartMath. HeartMath. (2021, September 20). Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.heartmath.com/science/.
  13. Madison, A., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2019). Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 28, 105–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.01.011
  14. Rao, R. K., & Samak, G. (2013). Protection and Restitution of Gut Barrier by Probiotics: Nutritional and Clinical Implications. Current nutrition and food science, 9(2), 99–107. https://doi.org/10.2174/1573401311309020004

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