The next time you're short-staffed, running behind, or juggling difficult clients, don't sweat it. Instead, take a deep breath and smile. According to a recent report on CNN.com, short bouts of intense social stress can enhance your immunity. Don't believe it? Dozens of studies say its true. One is Dr. John Sheridan’s study, “Social Stress Boosting Immune System’s Flu-fighting abilities.” Of the rats given the flu virus, the ones in his study exposed to bouts of stress increased their production of specialized immune cells.
Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon, has published several papers including, "Sociability and Susceptibility to the Common Cold" and "Psychosocial Stress, Social Networks, and Susceptibility to Infection," that claim the more roles you take on, the less likely you are to catch an infection. Just think about the assistant who’s always greeting clients, checking inventory, filing records, cleaning cages, and, let’s not forget, taking courses online over her lunch. She never calls in sick. Coincidence? Sheridan and Cohen don't think so.
Of course, chronic stress, like job dissatisfaction or a troubled personal life, has the opposite effect. Instead of giving you a boost, long-term stresses knock you down. To make yourself less susceptible to stress and infections, be sure to eat properly and get enough exercise and sleep. Oh, and maybe volunteering for that additional project wouldn't hurt either.