A Happier Immune System?

Sometimes I am just amazed. I was feeling exhausted today, run down, like I'm coming down with something, so I left work right at five with the full intention of lying on the sofa with feet up to rest and recharge (and of course catch up on scintillating Professional MasterChef episodes). And then I saw my little net book just sitting there on the table. On the train ride home I had been thinking about a posting on the flu that I've been working on recently and the little laptop just called out to me… do some writing! And not in a bossy, horrible way. In an enticing, appealing way.

Wonders never cease. I've always wanted to be a writer, ever since I can remember. And I suppose I am. The majority of my day job involves writing, although I certainly don't write about anything close to my Mind, Body & Scroll topics.

The past few years I had been looking for a non-work creative writing outlet, but was struggling (it certainly didn't help that I had to spend so much time focused on my physiotherapy treatment). Two summers ago I took a narrative non-fiction writing class that I absolutely loved and even wrote a book proposal as a result of it. But afterwards I still couldn't get going on daily or even weekly writing sessions.

For example, I would get home on days like today and not even think about writing. I was tired and lethargic and really couldn't face doing anything but lying down and watching MasterChef. Don't get me wrong, I didn't have too many days where this happened – I was out doing other things. But still. There was not a lot of energy around for writing.

And then I discovered blogging.

Sometimes we know what we want but we don't know how to get there. It can take some persistence for the path to come clear. But when we are doing something we truly enjoy and are passionate about, even for a small tiny fraction of every day, I think we benefit both body and mind.

For example, and this may be a huge coincidence, but I have not been truly ill since I've started this blog. True, I had my tonsils out in February 2008, which has helped substantially with my general health. I'm also no longer in severe muscular pain – also a big plus. And I listen to my body more and more, spending time with feet up when I need to, helping my body to fight off those viruses. I have felt run down, definitely, but these blips don't tend to turn into full-blown illness as much anymore.

I can't help but wonder if my immune system may have benefited a teeny tiny bit from having a creative outlet for which I've been searching for ages. Anyone who knows me personally is aware that I used to be constantly sick. Not seriously sick, but constant colds and sore throats. Again, I think a big bulk of this is down to my lack of tonsils (they were chronically infected, which is a whole other story for another time). However, Future Hub did have a monster of a cold before we set off to San Francisco in September and I didn't catch it, which was short of a miracle.

The consensus seems to be that stress can weaken people's immune systems by raising their levels of cortisol and making them more susceptible to colds and flu. So if stress can weaken people's immune systems who's to say that doing something you enjoy can't strengthen it?

After writing this chirpy post, I'll probably come down with a stinker of a cold tomorrow. So probably safer to slink off to the couch for what they used to call at summer camp FOB (flat-on-back) time. To make sure that whatever is making me feel icky is nipped in the bud. I wouldn't want to break my illness-free streak and look like a fool.


  1. Quick question - I saw you have a netbook. How does the small keyboard affect your posture and typing? I have a netbook and had to get an external keyboard b/c the keyboard on mine was way too cramped and was making my wrists ache. I also have to prop it up on some books, too, so that it is at the right level.

    I agree with your point about having something like blogging or tapping or knitting and how it has a positive effect on your overall health. Something like that is a real motivator!

  2. I am very careful about posture (as you would probably imagine). I do find that when I'm writing at home the easiest thing for me to do is to sit on the couch with our lap top or my net book on my lap. Then I get good back support and it's low enough to make sure my shoulders are back and down. I sometimes use a little pillow to prop it up a bit, but not too much (it's a very small pillow) -- it works pretty well for me at just slightly higher than lap level.

    We are now learning how to do a double time step in tap class. And I thought the single one was hard. Are you still taking tap?


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