To be healthy, you need a strong immune system.
The immune system is not a single entity but, rather, a structure that works with all the other systems in your body. If one's not working optimally, your immunity will plummet, and you can bet your overall well-being will be affected.
We all know we shouldn't smoke or drink to excess and that we should eat healthy, nutritious food, but your immune system is affected by so much more, such as your thoughts, relationships, smiling, stress management and sleep.
While you're at it, don't underestimate the power of the body/mind/spirit connection! Deepak Chopra says: "Every time we have a thought, we set off a cascade of cellular reactions in our nervous system that influence all the molecules in our body."
Boost your immunity and stay well by:
Staying Connected: When you constantly cut yourself off from people, you're increasing the risk of loneliness, and that's bad for your health.
Researchers at Ohio State University found that those less socially-connected produced more inflammation-related proteins, and inflammation is linked to diabetes, arthritis, auto-immune diseases and even some cancers.
Reach out to people. Attend social functions. Find a sense of community through your church, local organizations, volunteer groups.
That goes for work, too! While you certainly don't want a rep as the office clown or the non-stop talker where people hide when they see you coming, you do need to spend just a little time reaching out to work buddies.
Turning That Frown Upside Down: We've all heard that phrase, "Laughter is the best medicine," and it's true. According to Psychology Today, smiles can be pretty powerful. They boost moods, relax the body, stimulate immunity, decrease stress and a lot more. By the way, smiles are also contagious -- and you know that saying, "What you put out into the Universe is what you'll get back."
Not Being a "Debbie Downer": Winston Churchill had a saying, "The pessimist finds difficulty in every opportunity, while the optimist finds opportunity in every difficulty."
Optimists have a lot less stress because they have hope, think positively, practice gratitude and don't "sweat the small stuff," which means little or no stress-related damage to the immune system.
Getting Enough Sleep: We all have occasional nights when we can't sleep, but if you're chronically sleep-deprived, you'll probably be exhausted, stressed, moody, irritable, injury-prone, and will lack mental focus.
You'll also become more susceptible to colds and viruses. The National Institutes of Health reported on a study conducted by Archives of Internal Medicine where 153 people were given the rhino (cold) virus; it was found that those who got less than 7.5 hours of sleep were more susceptible to catching something.
Managing Stress:. If you're a chronic stress case, you might experience eating disorders, digestive problems, high blood pressure, inflammation, weight problems, sleep deprivation, confidence and esteem challenges. Learn to manage it with various techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, self-care, etc.
According to the American Psychological Association, there is emerging evidence that managing stress can actually help one fight germs.
Incorporating Physical Activity in Daily Life: We know you're busy, and we know some people don't like going to the gym. Never use that as an excuse to do nothing, because you can find other ways to incorporate exercise into your life Physical activity is good for both the body AND the mind. It transports oxygen and nutrients to the cells and gets rid of toxins and accumulated wastes. Emotionally, you'll feel a lot better too, because it releases those natural, feel-good, substances called endorphins.
Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School says it may even play a bigger part because it also boosts circulation!
Walk, take the stairs, rather than escalators or elevators, play a sport, swim, do some gentle stretching, yoga or t'ai chi. It's your choice, but just do something.
Using Antibiotics Wisely: Antibiotics certainly have a place in today's medicine, but many overuse them, taking them at the first hint of a cold. These people not only develop antibiotic resistance, but, as the Mayo Clinic pointed out, it can destroy your healthy gut bacteria, and that's what eliminates toxins, aids healthy digestion and keeps your immune system in tip-top shape.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more