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Thinking well can protect against stress

Have you ever noticed that you get sick more often when you're stressed?

That's because worry and negativity do a number on our immune systems.

A new survey finds that nearly 75 percent of Americans are stressed to the max, and experts worry about the long-term impact that will have on the health of our country.

Stress can cause serious long-term health damage.

But there is some good news. A positive attitude can protect you against stress.

Our brain communicates with our immune system through the vagus nerve. This nerve lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and regulates stress response. Stress inflames cells, which then suppresses the immune system, making us more susceptible to disease.

Yet you can reduce inflammation with meditation. In fact, one study shows meditation can help prevent influenza.

Flu shots were given to volunteers who meditated for eight weeks and to people who didn't meditate. Blood tests showed the meditation group had higher levels of antibodies against the flu virus.

If meditation isn't your style, there are other proven ways to control stress.

Try exercise, yoga, or even tai chi.

Or, simply spend time with family and friends.


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