How To Use Pleasure To Boost Your Immune System
Most of us weren’t taught how to truly enjoy something deeply and sink right into it. Instead, we were taught that we should limit our pleasure, limit our happiness, and limit our ecstasy. We wouldn’t want to be "too much," would we? Maybe we believe that somehow our pleasure will take us over and we’ll lose control. Maybe we are afraid that our happiness or our pleasure will somehow take away from the pleasure of others.
Yet intuitively, we know that feeling pleasure and joy makes us feel better—and we want more of it. When feeling pleasure, be that kissing a lover or eating our favorite meal, we feel better, lighter, and more alive.
Pleasure as an immune booster.
Try to recall a time when you started to feel a bit under the weather. You could feel the tickle in the back of your throat, muscle aches, and cold chills and you sensed a cold or flu coming on. Yet instead of spending the day in bed nursing your immune system with hot soup, tea, supplements, and lots of fluids, you spent the day creating your favorite piece of art or music, eating fun, new foods as you explored a new city, or spending the day in the arms of someone you love. This is the power of pleasure.
Although hot soup, tea, supplements, nutritious food, and good water are often what a body needs when it’s feeling under the weather, it’s not the only way to boost your immune system and your energy. As a health coach, I often start with recommending nutrition changes to anyone who wants to feel better and live a better life—but regularly experiencing pleasure in your life is just as important.
How pleasure affects your food.
When it comes to food and nutrition, it’s now known that the state of mind you are in, or the state of energy that you are in, can affect how food metabolizes in your body. Our food affects our mind, body, and spirit, and if we consume and digest a food in a higher state of mind, as in one that is grounded, open, and receptive to love, then our body can process the food we are eating in a more productive way. By allowing more pleasure to enter your life, especially while eating, you can literally change how your body will benefit from the food you are eating. So a part of the equation is to eat high-quality food, and the other part is to eat food in a high-quality state of being.
Women need more pleasure.
We live in a culture that often values male pleasure above female pleasure. And don't take my word for it—look around. Do the women in your life often feel guilty when spending time or money doing something "just for the fun of it" more than the men you know? For the most part, the answer to this question is yes.
I’m not placing blame—we all act out of how we were taught and what was modeled for us, and these messages are deep-rooted and all around us—in movies and TV shows, in the lyrics of songs we hear on the radio, in our conversations, sarcasm, and jokes with friends and work colleagues. It’s no wonder that we, as women, have to make a real effort to bring more pleasure into our lives.
Valuing and prioritizing your pleasure, as a woman, is super important for health reasons. Once you introduce more pleasure into your life, you’ll see that you’re able to tune in to one of your most powerful tools—your intuition. Psychologists have studied pleasure and recommend its benefits for our health, but you don’t need to read a study or visit a therapist to know that pleasure is important. Give it a try for yourself.
Pleasure-inducing exercises to try:
Chew more slowly.
Instead of eating as you usually do, primarily for sustenance, slow down and chew each bite for 25 chews. This is best done with a type of food that you really enjoy and look forward to eating. A great way for you to try this, especially if you love chocolate, is to buy a high-quality version that feels like an indulgence and spend a minimum of five minutes enjoying one small piece. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth as you take time to really feel the joy of eating the food.
Slow down your kisses and embraces.
Next time you are with your partner, lover, or spouse, slow down as you embrace or kiss so that you can truly feel the sensations throughout your body. For example, while hugging, allow several minutes to pass without pulling away. Inhale and exhale deeply, allowing all the joy of the hug to fill your body with delight.
Want more information on pleasure? Here's why it takes work to appreciate pleasure.