BY: KASSANDRA THOMAS
(Gainesville, Ga.) – For whatever reason, my prolonged suffering of sinusitis symptoms didn’t feel out of the ordinary. Even after almost four months of sneezing, coughing, what felt like Niagra Falls pouring from my nose and two failed prescriptions, I had just accepted that it was a stubborn sinus infection. It didn’t really occur to me that it could be something else– something that I had control over.
I am a senior in college with average stress levels. I eat relatively healthy and exercise occasionally (yoga before bed and hiking on weekends). Drinking water has never been a good habit of mine but I was gifted a Bubba keg about a month ago, forever changing my drinking habits for the better.
In other words, I have been feeling like I’m finally doing everything right to boost my immune system and get this sinus infection out of here.
I was wrong. The sinus infection is still going strong, but with a little help from a friend, I’ve gained some knowledge as to why.
Stress-sickness. According to the Washington Post, stress can impair the immune system, making it difficult to respond to infections.
So how do you rid of a stress-induced sickness?
Melani Stein, my aforementioned friend, is a freshman at Brenau who is passionate about self-care.
According to Stein, self-care is taking deliberate time to tend to one’s mental, physical and spiritual health.
“Self-care should re-energize, relax and calm you. Some broad examples are meditation (deep breathing and thought-focusing) and exercise. Self-care can be as small as taking a break from homework to drink tea, nourishing your body well or giving yourself time to take a relaxing bath,” Stein explains.
It took years of tremendous trauma and resulting anxiety eating away at her happiness for her to step back and realize that she needed to become her own comfort.
“Not practicing self-care can put me on edge, making it difficult to be around others or focus on one thing. Contrastingly, when I do self-care, I tell my body and mind, ‘I am safe,’ and ‘It is okay,’ which puts me in a much better place than where I started, enabling me to complete tasks I was unable to before,” Stein says.
Self-care is undeniably linked to maintaining one’s health.
“I feel that if one continues to be anxious and stressed without stepping back from a stressful situation to breath and relax, it is detrimental to mental well-being. It causes unceasing tiredness, unhappiness, and burn-out. Being unaware of your body’s response to certain hazards is also unhealthy. For example, if one feels sluggish and sad after consuming fatty fast-food, it is crucial to recognize that trigger and remedy it, instead of ignoring those bad feelings simply because the food is initially relieving.”
Everyone deserves happiness and healthiness. Stein says it best: “One must generate their own happiness from within, and that comes along with taking care of ones’ self. Being present and conscious of your own body can help one make changes towards a better perspective.”
Of the many self-care practices to choose from, Stein and I and are both partial to deep breathing and spa or yoga playlists on Spotify and Pandora. There are many options available to personalize your own self-care.
For more information on self-care and how to practice, visit some of the following websites on Stress Sickness, Self-Care 101, Beginner’s Self-Care, Self-Care Plan, Essentials and Picking the ‘No’s’ in Self-Care.