The 'Let Down Effect'
Ever gotten through a super stressful period at work, only to feel sick and run down as soon as you actually get a chance to relax? It’s not just you gf! This is known as the 'Let Down Effect' (LDE) and it's a very real thing.
The LDE is when you experience an immune response (eg. headaches, illness, fatigue, sore throat, etc) as a reaction to a stressful period or event. When you are stressed and struggling, your body releases chemicals (including stress hormones like cortisol) which help your immune system fight illness. However, as soon as the stressful period ends, your immune system stops releasing these chemicals, and becomes more susceptible to illness. Stressful periods can also leave behind chemicals called prostaglandins, which can trigger inflammation. This can cause flare ups in chronic conditions such as endometriosis, IBS, or migraines etc.
So, how can you avoid the dreaded Let Down Effect, and actually enjoy some down-time without getting sick? Here are my top tips:
- Stay active. This doesn’t have to be super intense training. Even short bursts of exercise, or low intensity exercise such as walking, can help activate your immune system and lower stress levels.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Try things like guided meditations, deep breathing exercises, and journaling. This can help reduce stress levels, lower your cortisol, and therefore decrease your chances of experiencing the LDE.
- Prioritise sleep. It is harder for our body to feel stressed out if we are getting enough sleep. Sleep will also improve your immune function, help regulate your hormones, and reduce inflammation caused by stress.
- Nourish yourself properly. Make sure you are eating enough fruits and veggies, and staying hydrated. Getting enough micronutrients will help improve immune function and keep you feeling more energised.