When people are looking for a way to enhance immunity without supplements, the first thing I turn to is Meditation. This is especially important during cancer treatments that can reduce white blood cell counts.
You might be wondering…how does closing your eyes for 5 minutes change your immune system?
Research studies show that when it comes to the immune system, meditation can make some significant changes. Here are the top 5 ways meditation can help your immune system:
1. Reduces Risk of Viral Infection and Days Missed at Work From Viral Infection
In a study comparing meditators to non-meditators, when the two groups were exposed to a viral infection, the people who had a meditation practice were less likely to experience symptoms of a viral infection. Even when the two groups had the same amount of virus circulating in their bloodstream.
2. Shortens Duration of Viral Infection
In the same study as above, the group that meditated on average had symptoms for 3 days or less. Where the group that didn’t meditate had a viral infection for 5 – 7 days.
3. Improves Sleep Quality, which the CDC recommends as an important step in reducing risk of infections
Compared to other sleep interventions, such as sleep hygiene, meditation can have a greeted impact on sleep quality, length of sleep, and number of rounds of deep sleep per night. When we sleep well, our immune system functions better.
4. Reduces Inflammation, which if chronic, can reduce a proper immune response to a trigger like infection.
What does inflammation have to do with immunity? Well, if we have chronic inflammation, it can become a source of reducing how well our immune system functions. Which can lead to improper immune function when we really need it…like times of infection.
5. Improves immune cell count
Meditation has been shown to improve the count of our CD4+ cells. These are the immune cells responsible for destroying sources of infection. Even better, meditation can also reduce the cytokines (or cell signals) that prevent the immune system from responding.
6. Increases Antibody Response after Infection Exposure and Immunization
Once we get an infection, we rely on antibodies to help our immune system recognize the infection, and get rid of it quickly. Antibodies can help prevent an infection from entering our cells and reduces the impact on our overall wellness.
Most of these studies focused on doing as little as 5 minutes of meditation with a maximum of 20 minutes of meditation practice. I think it’s pretty amazing that we can impact our immune system in this way by closing our eyes, and taking 5 minutes out of our day to close our eyes and breathe.
If you haven’t ever tried meditation, closing your eyes for 5 minutes can sound awkward, or even intimidating. I totally get it! That’s why I have created a 7 day meditation challenge to help you get started.
There are also great apps to help you on your way to meditation too. Personally, I have used Headspace, Calm, and Insight timer.
Whatever you try, give yourself at least 7 days to get used to the practice, 21 days to create a new daily habit, and 90 days for a new habit to become something you do as simply a part of your daily life without thinking twice about it.