Last week I attended a seminar titled “The Immune System: The Mind-Body Connection: Who Gets Sick And Who Stays Well” These programs are a requirement to maintain my Nursing license, and usually pretty dull and boring. Well, not only wasn’t I bored, but I came away feeling as inspired as if I had heard a great motivational speaker.
In a nutshell, our Immune System protects us from countless bacteria and viruses that we encounter throughout life. It recognizes foreign invaders (including cancer) and destroys them before we even know they exist. It’s the reason we don’t die from a cold or the flu or an infected toenail. It’s yet another part of us that we might take for granted, because it works tirelessly and (in most cases) very effectively, without our attention to it.
Note to self: Add Immune System to gratitude list!
What I found fascinating was the correlation between our Immune System and our mental attitude or mood. Two things this smarty-pants, PhD researcher said really stood out in my mind (and my notes):
1. Stress does not lower our immunity; depression related to perceived stress lowers our immunity
2. Meditation greatly improves our immunity
This is really great news! It’s not the stress that makes us sick, it’s our interpretation and response to the stress that makes us sick. Our powerful mental muscle of perception (which is 100% under our conscious control, at all times, btw) allows us to decide if something is good or bad, big or small, serious or not a big deal. So by not sweating the small stuff, by thinking positive instead of negative, we actually improve our body’s ability to protect us from things that could otherwise make us sick or kill us.
When I made the decision to leave the medical field to start my coaching practice, it was a bittersweet exit. I truly do love helping people feel better and I worried (but not too much, haha) that I would miss the satisfaction that work provided. I’ve often felt, I help people at least as much as a coach as I did when I was working in the ICU. Attending this seminar strengthens that belief and inspires me to keep sharing ways to think and feel better and therefore be healthier.
Whatever stress may be in your life today would only get more stressful if you get sick. So flex your mental muscle of perception and help your Immune System do it’s thing to keep you healthy.