This One Surprising Thing Makes Your Immune System 50 Percent Stronger
You won't believe the impact this simple interaction can have on your ability to fight off illness.
Over the past few months, while being quarantined at home, you have probably come to realize the negative effects limited human connection can have on your mood. And studies have found that it can also have a significant impact on your physical health, especially when it comes to your communication with your doctor. In fact, according to research, connecting with your doctor, either verbally or through body language, can boost your immunity by 50 percent.
Yes, as it turns out, a good bedside manner does more than just put your mind at ease. "Positive non-verbal communication has been shown to decrease patient anxiety and give better outcomes," according to CNN.
A 2011 study published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling looked at 719 patients with the common cold and found a positive association between patients' immune response and doctors' perceived empathy. According to the study, "the more empathic they [patients] perceived their doctor to be—the faster they recovered."
In the study, patients were asked to score doctors on their empathy on a 1-10 scale. According to CNN, "Those who scored the doctor a perfect 10 [on an empathy scale] (around a third of patients) had reduced severity of symptoms, recovered faster and also had higher immune function, about 50 percent better than others."
The benefits of empathy don't stop at a speedier recovery—it also helps patients manage pain. "Patients who get high non-verbal support from their physicians show increased tolerance. Doctors' detachment and distancing behavior—such as the absence of smiling and direct eye-gaze—has the opposite effect and is linked to worse patient outcomes," CNN reports.
This finding has become exceptionally relevant as doctors and nurses continue to treat coronavirus patients while wearing layers of PPE. Masks, suits, and face shields play a role in intercepting positive interpersonal interactions and conceal much of the body language that could exhibit empathy to patients. And to help you debunk common immunity misconceptions, check out Here Are the Myths About Your Immune System You Need to Stop Believing.