Mindfulness as a vaccine for the flu

Acute respiratory tract infection, or in everyday parlance – the common cold/flu, is probably the most troublesome medical problem of an average person. It isn’t bad enough that you have to pull through all that sneezing and sniffling with the stuffy noses and sore throats, in addition you can’t even use the sickness as a reason to indulge in comfort food; no ice-cream, sugary snacks or cold drinks. Even worse is when you have to miss work and your boss gives you hell for taking time off. The worst however is that there is no cure for the flu, you just have to let it run its course. Sure symptomatic treatment may be available but they have the side effects of making you drowsy and dysfunctional. So the best you could do is protect yourself from getting the flu? Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health have shown that individuals who underwent mindfulness training and continued practicing it for eight weeks had a 40 – 50% decrease in the episodes of cold and flu symptoms as compared to those who had no training or exercise schedule. This is comparable to the 48% protection rate that was advocated for the flu vaccine this season (2017). Without the expense, pain and skepticism associated with vaccines, mindfulness helps through increased self-awareness, concentration and regulation of emotion. These are important factors in the regulation of our lifestyles which eventually help in control the contraction and development of infectious diseases such as the common cold.

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