How Stress Can Make You Sick + Recipe Included

How often have you planned a long-awaited vacation and when you finally got there and relaxed you suddenly came down with a cold or fever? You may not have thought it was stress since stress is a contributing factor to many illnesses.

I often get sick when I'm stressed!

Unfortunately, it has morphed into chronic allergies. I visualize my stress levels like a barrel filling up with daily living. environmental influences, and detoxifying waste that causes the barrel to overflow creating the effect of a cascade of symptoms. Using meditation and making lifestyle changes has helped ease the symptoms.

The immune system becomes affected by stress which causes me to get sick. The relationship between psychological stress, the immune system and central nervous system all work together by triggering the sickness response. In the field of psychoneuroimmunology, it treats how emotions overlay with neurotransmitters (the nervous system) that overlay with cytokines (immune cells) and overlays with hormones (Endocrine system).

Also known as the mind/body connection or SOMA, means that we must treat them as one unit.

When you feel sick the body's first defense against illness or injury can come from a fever, lack of appetite, and feeling anxious. Immune cells arrive on the scene of an infection and release cytokines. The vagus has receptors for parts of these cytokines which are inflammatory (causing fever (heat), redness, pain or swelling). When these receptors are activated, they send a signal to the brain to make its own cytokines. This causes the brain to send a response back to the immune system activating your immune response.

This connection between your brain and your immune system works by way of the vagus nerve which is the communication highway that goes back and forth between the gut and brain. If your brain doesn't get the message from the vagus nerve, it won't trigger the sickness response.

It also releases stress hormones such as cortisol to save you energy for fighting an infection. In early studies where cytokines were placed in the brains of animals, the sickness response was triggered even when there was no infection.

Stress originates in the brain instead of being triggered by your immune cells. It can make you sick because your body can have the same sickness response such as an infection or illness.

It's when chronic stress causes your body to produce the invading immune cells over a long period of time, it suppresses the immune system from lowering your ability to fight infections. Trauma, chronic illnesses and injury, remain in the body as memory.

We know that stressful events in our life come from struggling to balance work, family responsibilities, major life changes and caregiving. It can also result from accumulated feelings of loneliness, anxiety, chronic pain or fatigue or burnout.

Taking care of your stress is a daily practice!

How can you manage stress and take time out for a mental break? What tools can you use for clearing your mind and reducing feeling overwhelmed.

You can reduce stress by beginning a practice of deep breathing and meditation easily done on your own time and anywhere.

Learn more about my programs Feed the Brain and Heal to Health and begin your journey for understanding stress reactivity in yourself, relationships and life.

Recipe - A Soup to Sooth the Soul

There’s nothing like a warm broth soup to calm the nerves, satisfy the heart and relieve stress. I love soups because you can improvise with ingredients adding anything you want. In this recipe, Italian Wedding Soup, I used lean ground turkey meatballs with a variety of greens, vegetables and pasta. It fills the spoon with lots of surprises.


12 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons of oil

1 lb. of ground turkey

3 garlic cloves

½ cup bread crumbs (I used ground oats and ground flax seeds)

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 egg

½ cup grated parmesan (I used old cheddar)

Salt and pepper

1 large carrot (diced)

½ cup orzo or small mini pasta shapes ( I used a gluten free quinoa pasta)

Zest from 1 lemon

3 cups spinach or kale

Juice from one lemon

1/3 cup chopped dill and cheese for topping


  1. Put the chicken broth in the pot with 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat to boiling.
  2. To make the meatballs: In a large bowl and the ground turkey, breadcrumbs (or whatever you’re using), chopped garlic, egg, parsley and cheese and mix in a bowl. Divide into 12 to 15 meatballs. Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat and broil in the oven for 8 to 10 minute, turning over after 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Add to the soup pot carrots, pasta and lemon zest. Increase the heat and add the meatballs spinach or kale and cook for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add in the lemon juice. Taste and  add more seasonings if needed.
  4. Separate the soup into 6 bowls and top with the dill, remaining cheese and a drizzle of oil.
  5. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy the soup and think about how stress plays a role in wellness and illness.


FEED THE BRAIN: A mindful eating approach to nourish the body, heart and mind examines how eating mindfully, slowing down, and connecting to your body and the senses will bring your natural physiological cues into consciousness. If you’re having weight problems, struggling with your relationship to food, uncomfortable in your body, not digesting your food well and experiencing bloating, gas or uncomfortable symptoms this program is for you. Dates are set when a minimum of six people are registered.

We need 4 more people to run this program this winter.

Health to Health; A mindful practice to cope with stress, STARTS THIS SATURDAY FEBRARUY 11TH FROM 10am to Noon . It introduces you to the process of meditation and mindfulness practices. You will learn seven different meditations and three methods to cope with stress for yourself, relationships, and the environments in which you engage.

Practice Together continues and you can join us on Tuesdays at 6pm.

Spend a day in meditation and relaxation in a SILENT RETREAT DAY a few times a year. The next one is Sunday March 12th from 10 to 3 pm. Fee is $55 (minimum 5 people to run retreat) Find out more here.

For those who missed the Vertigo, Dizziness, Balance Workshop with Jen McConvey, you may access the recoding here.

contact me if you have any questions at

My best in Health,


  1. RaRa on March 31, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Thank you Rani for your fabulous content & recipe ⭐️

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