In a world saturated with demands and distractions, creating and maintaining healthy boundaries is not just a luxury - it’s a necessity. In this blog post, we’re going to explore the connection between this idea of boundaries and how it relates to your immunity, mental wellbeing, and overall health.
How Blurred Boundaries Can Sabotage Your Immune System
The absence of boundaries in our lives can impact us emotionally, physically, and professionally. It can even result in chronic stress, which is a silent destroyer of immune function. Chronic stress activates the body's stress-response system, continuously pumping out cortisol. Elevated levels of this hormone have been shown to negatively affect the overall activity of white blood cells, the primary defenders in our immune system. These cells not only produce antibodies but also participate in a variety of mechanisms that neutralise pathogens and infected cells. The more stress you are under, the less effective your immune system will be.
Professional Burnout & Workplace Boundaries
Let’s put that into a work context. If you consistently work overtime, under high pressure, or are so conscientious that you tend to stay plugged in and check emails over the weekend or until midnight, it might be time to set some professional boundaries. Despite feeling drained, we might fear saying no to additional tasks or setting limits on our availability. When your work/life balance looks like this, work can become a chronic source of stress rather than a fulfilling way to spend your time (or just the source of your monthly paycheck).
Chronic workplace stress is linked to reduced immune function, making you more susceptible to illnesses like the common cold or even more severe conditions in the long term.
Defend Your Zen Strategies:
- Create a 'priority list' of your daily tasks and commitments, and don’t be afraid to say no to what is not on it. Learning to diplomatically decline non-essential obligations can significantly reduce stress, thus safeguarding your immune system.
- Integrate pampering rituals into your weeks to alleviate stress and take care of yourself – why not an evening with our Unwind bath salts and Serenity candle?
- To gently and naturally support your immune defences, consider exploring our Defend range, composed of a tea, tincture and supplements
Sleep & Rest: Nature's Best Medicine
The importance of sleep for optimal immune function is supported by a plethora of research. Don't underestimate the transformative power of a good night's sleep when it comes to fortifying your immune system. While you're wrapped up in dreams, your body is hard at work releasing cytokines, proteins vital for immune responses. This isn't just idle chit-chat among cells; it's a full-on strategy meeting where your body coordinates its defenses against potential invaders. Think of sleep as your body's nightly war council, where key players like T-cells and white blood cells gather to plan their next moves. Skipping this essential gathering—say, by cutting your sleep short or sacrificing its quality—means missing out on critical communication that helps your immune system function at its best. In the high-stakes game of your health, sleep has to be a priority.
Defend Your Zen Strategies:
- Set a sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends. Eliminate screen time at least an hour before bed to promote the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- Try our Deep Sleep tea in the evening, and/or a couple of our Deep Sleep supplements about half an hour before bedtime, and experience natural, safe, non-addictive herbal support to help you fall and stay asleep.
- Diffuse our Deep Sleep essential oil diffuser blend in your bedroom an hour or so before you go to sleep to create a relaxing, serene atmosphere, and/or spray our peaceful Sleep Better Pillow Mist on your pillow.
Exercise: The Delicate Balance
There’s plent of research out there highlighting how regular moderate exercise enhances immune response. But if you are a keen athlete, it’s important to also bear in mind that excessive physical exertion can do the opposite. Overtraining leads to an ‘open-window’ of impaired immunity (Nieman et al., 2019). So do integrate regular physical activity into your weeks, but be mindful not to overdo it and give yourself time and space to recover.
Defend Your Zen Strategies:
- Maintain a balanced exercise regimen. Aim for regular moderate exercise during the week, interspersed with some strength training. But don't forget to allocate time for rest and recovery.
- If you are looking for a natural source of support for your workouts, try our Muscle Restore & Recovery mix, a powerful workout powder designed to optimise muscle performance and recovery, whether pre- or post-workout.
- Our Joint and muscle range of products (featuring herbal-powered teas, capsules, balms and bath salts) can help you feel flexible and comfortable with movement – they can be useful in particular if you suffer from arthritis, or if you are recovering from sprains or strains.
Finding Calm and Setting Emotional Boundaries
When we think about defending your Zen, it’s important to realise that you need to have some Zen to defend in the first place! Multiple studies support the positive impact of mindfulness and meditation on the immune system. For instance, studies show that mindfulness meditation increased the activity of natural killer cells (Fang et al., 2010), crucial players in viral and cancer defence. On the active side, you should aim to incorporate calming, mindful activities into your weekly routine. You should also consider what emotional availability means to you.
Everyone is energised and fatigued in an emotional and physical sense by different things. If you’re the kind of angel that’s always available for friends and family, even when it emotionally drains you, you may have felt the strain. If you're someone who finds it hard to set emotional boundaries and say 'no' every now and then, those heightened cortisol levels could be wreaking havoc on your immune system. It’s interesting to look at this through the lens of two classic personality types: introvert and extrovert.
Introverts, Extroverts, and Your Immune System
When it comes to emotional availability, one's disposition—be it introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between—plays a role in how stress manifests and subsequently affects immune function.
If you lean towards introversion, emotional availability can sometimes be more taxing. Introverts tend to need solitude to recharge their emotional batteries. Being accessible to friends and family, then, might cause a disproportionate amount of stress compared to someone who's more extroverted. Your body's stress-response system doesn't distinguish between "good" or "bad" types of stress; it just releases cortisol. So, even if you're helping a loved one through a difficult time, if you're not setting aside time for yourself, you could be doing more harm than good—especially to your immune system.
For extroverts, the equation might look a little different. Emotional availability often comes more naturally, and social interactions can be a source of energy rather than a drain. However, this can also be a double-edged sword. The danger here is overcommitting and spreading yourself too thin. Your innate ability to handle more social interactions doesn't negate the physiological stress that can occur when you're pulled in too many directions. That constant hum of activity can cause cortisol levels to spike just as easily as it can for introverts, but for different reasons.
The Middle Ground: Setting Healthy Boundaries
Whether you're introverted, extroverted, or a mix of both, setting healthy boundaries is the key to balancing emotional availability with self-care. And since chronic stress from either end of the spectrum can weaken your immune system, you've got a solid health-based reason to put yourself first every now and then.
Defend Your Zen Strategies:
- Begin your meditation journey with just 10 minutes per day. The focus should be on regularity rather than length. Utilise mindfulness apps or guided sessions to maintain consistency.
- To create the perfect serene haven for your meditation, consider using our Grounding oil at the beginning of your practice – this aromatherapy blend has been mindfully crafted to support you to feel balanced, centred and grounded.
- Try a few cups of our Balance tea, a herbal adaptogen blend that helps alleviate stress and increase your resilience to it.
We’re Here to Help You Set Boundaries
The quest for a balanced life necessitates the setting of healthy boundaries. Remember, drawing lines isn't about closing doors; it's about making time and space for what truly matters. By incorporating these science-backed strategies, you are not just defending your Zen but building a strong foundation for your overall wellbeing.
Let our team help you take the first steps in defending your Zen. Here are a few products you might want to try:
Defend Tea: Your first line of defence in preserving your Zen. While the modern world inundates us with stressors that can compromise our immune system, this herbal blend comes fortified with nature's own warriors like vitamin C-rich Rosehip and the antioxidant power of Elderberry. Topped with the adaptogenic prowess of Tulsi, this tea not only equips your body to ward off illness but also serves as a daily ritual to draw clear boundaries against stress.
Recovery Tincture: When you've weathered an illness and are in the recuperation phase, it's crucial to re-establish the boundaries that defend your Zen. Our Recovery Tincture is like a post-battle debrief for your immune system—rich with a symphony of meticulously chosen botanicals. From the anti-inflammatory prowess of Baikal Skullcap to the soothing touch of Elderflower, the tincture is crafted to expedite your journey back to wellbeing. It tackles everything from fever to congestion, providing a comprehensive healing experience. Add this tincture to your daily routine as you bounce back from illness, particularly respiratory infections.
Mushroom Superblend: In a world of physical and mental stressors, defending your Zen is crucial. The Mushroom Superblend works on both body and mind. With Lion's Mane to sharpen your focus, Cordyceps to give you that extra push in energy, and Reishi to bolster your immune system, this blend aims to keep you balanced and resilient throughout the day. Each component acts as an adaptogen, boosting your body's natural ability to handle stress, be it physical or emotional.
Grounding oil: Sometimes the noise of the world can become too much, pulling you in various directions and stretching you thin. Defending your Zen means drawing healthy boundaries and finding moments of equilibrium. Our Grounding Oil is designed to be your aromatic anchor in those tumultuous times. Crafted with a blend of sandalwood for its calming qualities, frankincense for spiritual grounding, holy basil for mental clarity, and cardamom for emotional balance, it serves as a pocket-sized sanctuary. Whether you're about to dive into yoga, meditation, or just trying to find your center before a big meeting, a couple of drops in your palm and a deep inhalation can serve as a reminder to be present and secure in your own space.
Balance Tea: Think of this blend as your own personal "pause" button. Designed specifically to offer adrenal support, this tea acts as your buffer against the spikes and plummets of stress hormones. With chamomile for calming, vervain for nerve-soothing, tulsi for adaptogenic resilience, and lemon balm for mood elevation, it's our go-to brew to rein in runaway stress.
Unwind Bath Salts: This blend is a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door and your mind. A handmade mix of soothing rose, chamomile, and vervain, alongside Epsom salts. The salts serve a dual purpose, easing physical tension while acting as a medium for the beneficial properties of the herbs and essential oils, like bergamot and geranium, to soak the skin.
Sleep Better Pillow Mist: A couple of spritzes on your pillow, and you'll be swept into a calming aroma that acts as a shield against stress and a gateway to deep, restorative sleep. Every night is a fresh start, unblemished by yesterday’s stressors.
Deep Sleep Pulse Points Roller: Our Deep Sleep Pulse Point is your pocket-sized boundary between the frenetic world and your sanctuary of serene dreams. With a calming blend of chamomile, neroli, lavender, and frankincense, it's designed to ease you into a relaxed state, readying your body and mind for rejuvenating sleep. Its compact form makes it convenient to carry wherever you go—meaning you can draw a line in the sand, asserting your need for calm and rest, whether you're at home or on the move.
Wellbeing Boundaries Glossary
- Adaptogen: Natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and restore normal physiological functions.
- Antibodies: Proteins produced by the immune system that recognise and neutralise pathogens.
- Chronic Stress: Ongoing or recurring stress that can negatively impact both mental and physical health.
- Cortisol: A hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress; elevated levels can suppress the immune system.
- Cytokines: Small proteins that are important in cell signalling, particularly within the immune system.
- Emotional Availability: The ability to be emotionally present and supportive, potentially affecting stress and immune function.
- Immune Function: The ability of the immune system to defend against pathogens and diseases.
- Melatonin: A hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
- Mindfulness: A psychological process of actively paying attention to the present moment.
- Natural Killer Cells: A type of lymphocyte (white blood cell) that participates in the destruction of infected or cancerous cells.
- Pathogens: Microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses that can cause disease.
- T-cells: A type of white blood cell that is a key component of the immune system.
- White Blood Cells: Cells of the immune system that are involved in defending the body against both infectious diseases and foreign materials.
Deutsch, V., Lerner-Geva, L., Reches, A., Boyko, V., Limor, R., & Grisaru, D. (2007). Sustained leukocyte count during rising cortisol level. Acta Haematol, 118(2), 73-76. https://doi.org/10.1159/000103216
Fang, C. Y., Reibel, D. K., Longacre, M. L., Rosenzweig, S., Campbell, D. E., & Douglas, S. D. (2010). Enhanced psychosocial well-being following participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program is associated with increased natural killer cell activity. J Altern Complement Med, 16(5), 531-538. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2009.0018
Krueger, J. M., Majde, J. A., & Rector, D. M. (2011). Cytokines in immune function and sleep regulation. Handb Clin Neurol, 98, 229-240. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-52006-7.00015-0
Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system. J Sport Health Sci, 8(3), 201-217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009