Does being mentally tough improve immunity?
Mental toughness or what is also called psychological hardiness characterizes people who
remain healthy under psychosocial stress.
The participants of this study were tested for several immune and neuroendocrine markers
under a highly stressful military field exercise (Sandvik AM, et.al., 2013).
Blood samples were taken midway of the exercise, and also later when the stress levels were
Psychological hardiness was measured 2 days before the exercise started. Commitment,
control and challenges were included in what was measured.
Some of the participants had test results that showed an imbalanced profile, meaning they only
had good scores for some of the measurements.
The individuals with an imbalanced profile showed that they had suppressed immunity.
Testing high in hardiness with a balanced profile was linked to a more moderate and
healthy immune and neuroendocrine responses to stress.
It’s been found that a physiological pattern of “toughness” leads to improved performance in
stress situations, increased tolerance of stressors, emotional stability, and immune system
enhancement (Dienstbier RA, 1991).
There are ways to increase mental toughness by practicing meditation regularly, and also learn
more about why you react the way you do in certain situations.
Get to know yourself better, and start to practice to be more like the person you want to be.
Dienstbier RA. Behavioral correlates of sympathoadrenal reactivity: the toughness model.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 Jul;23(7):846-52.
Sandvik AM, Bartone PT, Hystad SW, Phillips TM, Thayer JF, Johnsen BH. Psychological
hardiness predicts neuroimmunological responses to stress. Psychol Health Med.
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