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What what is foreign to our body. Upon discovering

What is
stress really about? We have all learnt not only via psychology lessons but
also by listening to others or even via experiencing the symptoms of stress
itself. In fact, it is an essence in many health complications. Stressors can
affect us in both good and bad way. Stressors may affect us positively as it
keeps us more alert and aware of potentially dangerous situations, basically
acting as a defense mechanism known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. On the
flipside, it could also affect us negatively as when one is stress, he/she will
be overthinking/overdoing things. As a result, one will lack the amount of rest
he/she requires, thus without realizing, it does more physical damage to our
body then we actually think it will. Putting this aside, let’s discuss on how
stress is related to immune functioning.

 

First and
foremost, what causes stress? Stress often comes into place when one is in a
state of mental strain and worry due to life problems, work and other external
factors. Falling ill and experiencing unfavorable symptoms upon the occurrence
of a stressful event isn’t just a coincidence. This triggers a chemical
reaction which results in an onslaught of stress hormones, pumped around the
body.

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Moving on
to the Immune system, it is our body’s natural defense mechanism, helping us
detect what is normal and what is foreign to our body. Upon discovering foreign
invaders, it will incorporate necessary measures to get rid of them. There are
two types of immunity, namely, natural and specific immunity .Natural immunity
occurs when one is exposed to a live pathogen, causing the body to response
generally against it. On the other hand, we have the specific immunity, a part
of the overall immune system composed of highly specialized, systemic cells and
processes which also eliminates or prevents the growth of viruses.

 

Immune
functioning, in relation with stress are linked in many various ways. Our body
reacts differently to different stressors. Stressors which happen to be
resolved will demand the body to either fight against it or flee away from it
which is an act of avoidance. For instance, nearing to an examination, one
might be contemplating whether or not he should be studying for it as for the
previous exams, despite how hard he studies, he still ended up failing. This in
turn causes stress to the person. This stressor can be changed as in the past,
he/she might have been studying the wrong way thus no result is seen. Maybe
with the consideration of changing his/her studying methods, he might actually
do better. On the other hand, stressors which are incurable will demand the
body to just accept it. Personally, I feel that this applies more to the
elderlies. For instance, most elderlies tend to accept the fact that they are
suffering from a certain disease/illness. They prefer to just lift it on their
shoulders and just die from it.

 

In the
past, a psychology professor, Kiecott Glaser et al conducted an experiment to
see if the immune system can be affected by the external stress of the people.
The experiment includes taking 2 blood samples of 75 medical students in a
university, one before and the other one after exams. A questionnaire was also
distributed, questioning their stress levels. From the blood samples, they were
looking at the levels of natural killing cells during those periods comparing
before and after exams . The findings shows that during the exam period,
students had less natural killer cells than before. In the questionnaire, those
who mentioned that they were more stressed had much lower levels of natural
killer cells. This goes to show that even with exams approaching, one might not
be affected by it as they might be confident after constantly revising for it.
There are definitely more possibilities to it as we do not know what is running
through a person’s mind. Adding on to it, this experiment might not really be
accurate due to some factors like sample size etc.

 

How our
immune system responds to stress differs. When an individual is unable to
handle his/her stress, negative symptoms might/will be faced. In turn, this
increases one’s vulnerability to possible health risks. When not treated in
time, it will be staged further to become prolong stress which alters the
efficiency of our body’s regulatory fighting cells as the vulnerability to
health risk has further increased. Stress compromises our immune functioning as
it decreases our cell immunity, prolong our fighting/healing ability against
health risks and also affects our sleep cycle.

 

All in all,
I believe that the mind is as good as the heart of our body. It is our temple.
Nothing is as powerful as the mind. We can change the way we approach things,
act to something, run/avoid something 
but if we don’t change our mind, the same experience of unpleasantness
will perpetuate itself over and over again because everything outwardly changed
but nothing inwardly did.  

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