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Create a reward system to support your immune system

Posted Apr 23 2010 9:53am

I spend most of the work day in front of computer screens doing client work. I love the projects, but let’s face it, 8 celebrationhours or more each day (and during parts of weekends) in front of a two-dimensional screen can drive you a little batty sometimes. In order to break up the routine and give me hope for a full life, I like to create some small rewards for myself that I can look forward to when the word day is done.

I’m not a big TV watcher, but there are three TV shows that my family and I never miss: “24″, “Glee” and “Fringe.” (Wow, those are all Fox shows. And, am I the only straight, white male with a wife and grown kids who thinks Glee is one of the greatest TV offerings to hit the air in a long, long  time?).  I “use” those TV nights as little goals for getting my work done. A night eating out with my wife is also a goal. Golf and disc golf as well. It’s a goal  system built on small, frequent rewards.

Some recent literature also says that rewarding yourself can enhance your immune system response as well. The benefit comes indirectly–exposure to Jack Bauer or dark chocolate does not immediately impact suppressor cells or natural killer cell activity. The reward system can work by enhancing mood, alleviating stress and anxiety, and increasing a sense of well-being, all which can then trigger changes in immune performance.

Even the American Bar Association–always aware of lawyer burnout and stress-related meltdowns that frequently happen in that profession– advocates rewarding oneself as part of a stress-reduction/immune improvement strategy. So make sure you have some goal in mind, however modest, that can give you some sense of satisfaction and contentment, and keep your immune health in tact.

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