Does positive thinking boost our immune system?

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Particularly during this corona crisis, negative headlines cause anxiety. And anxiety and negative thoughts weaken our immune system. Roman Portmann, mindfulness trainer and mental coach, is convinced of this. He explains why and which simple tips can help.

How much impact do feelings and thoughts have on our body?

Every fear and every negative feeling automatically triggers a stress reaction in the body. As a result, the body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and, at the same time, deactivates the immune system in order to free up energy for the flight. It's like we're permanently running away from the sabre-toothed tiger in the Stone Age. This means that people living with constant stress automatically weaken their immune system.

Can positive thinking help prevent this negative impact to the body?

We can all read up on COVID-19 and all the other bad things going on in the world any time we wish. But each person has the choice to ask themselves: is constantly checking the news doing me good? When do I feel energised, and when depleted? Isn't it much healthier, for example, to take a walk in the woods and discover how quiet everything has become, and observe the signs of spring? Or to sit down in the evening, deliberately slow down and spend this extra time with loved ones? 

Which exercises and tips can you recommend to combat anxiety?

Tip 1: Start the day with positive thoughts

Leave your phone aside in the morning. Before you start any activity, first take time to feel your body. Sit or lie comfortably, and consciously become aware of your whole body. How do your feet, legs, pelvis, chest or head feel today? Where do you feel tension, and where is the body relaxed?

Now turn your attention to your mind. Which thoughts are coming? Are they positive? Or rather negative? First just accept them without judgement. After a few moments, direct your energy towards the positive thoughts. What makes you happy about the coming day, what gives you strength, what does you good? Reinforce these positive feelings – and this will reinforce your inner resources. By consciously activating your resources, you automatically strengthen your immune system.

Tip 2: Conscious breathing

Breath is energy! When we encounter difficulties in our lives, this is reflected in our breathing. Our breath wavers. You may have already noticed that under stress you breathe more shallowly and only in the upper part of your body? The important thing is to recognise this moment. Take a deep breath into your stomach and you will notice an immediate improvement. The whole body relaxes and your thoughts immediately become kinder and friendlier.

Tip 3: Be sure to drink to boost your immune system

We've all been there. Too much going on, and all you can think of is coffee. Breaks like these are important – and can also be used to benefit your health. But instead of the usual coffee, why not use the opportunity to fetch yourself a refreshing glass of water instead? Drinking water automatically does you and your body good. Especially if you consciously savour each sip. At the same time, you can also feed your mind positive suggestions. Like: «Each sip I take boosts my immune system and does my body good».

Tip 4: Everything has two sides

Everyone knows the saying that the glass is either half full or half empty. On this basis, we all have the chance to look at something positively or negatively. If you find yourself in a negative or distressing situation, take a look at your dilemma without judging it immediately. Take three to four deep breaths and then change your perspective and try to identify the positive aspects of the situation. It’s not always easy – but always worth a try! Focus consciously on the beautiful things in life. It doesn’t have to be anything major: just a smile or a spring blossom can make you feel good.

Tip 5: End the day on a positive note

During the day we have a lot of experiences, both positive and negative. In the evening, reflect consciously on the positive. Close your eyes before going to sleep, relax consciously once again and re-imagine every single situation. Visualise any negative aspects in the way you would like them to turn out next time and consolidate positive aspects so that these good feelings can be stored in the body's memory.

What if my anxiety doesn’t disappear despite these efforts?

Then it’s important to get support. This can be from your own personal environment or, depending on the situation, it may be advisable to seek professional help. CSS assists clients in difficult situations.

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