Stress Can Take A Toll On Our Brain, Try These Simple Tricks To Reset.

Stress Can Take A Toll On Our Brain, Try These Simple Tricks To Reset.

We all have stress in our lives.

Even when something wonderful happens to us, it can create a certain amount of stress. We have deadlines, lists of things to do, people we must interact with, and places to go. That means, even in the best of times, stress and anxiety are likely still going to be present and impact our brain.

Stress and Our Brains

Our brains are the control center of everything we are and everything we do. It controls our physical body and our emotions.

So, when we are encountering stress and anxiety our brain goes on high alert, you may know it as “fight or flight”. It activates the fear center in the brain and causes cortisol production, increased glucose, higher heart rates, and many other physical responses. Staying in this fight or flight state for long periods can damage our bodies, and many researchers say it’s the base cause of most diseases.

When we are exposed to chronic stress levels daily, this constant state of elevated cortisol can cause problems with other systems in our body, such as the immune system and the digestive system. When our brain’s fear center is constantly activated, other parts of the brain don’t have enough energy to carry out the day-to-day activities they need to, and our brain is affected.

Effects of Chronic Stress on the Brain

  • Memory impairment.  Researchers have found that chronic stress leads to forgetfulness and a lack of attention to detail. Even minor stress can cause you to forget things. Think about when you’re rushing around to get ready for work. You’re stressed, and you can’t focus on something like where you left your keys.  This also creates more stress, so you get caught up in a never-ending cycle of stress. The brain is redistributing its resources away from memory into survival mode.
  • Physical Brain Changes. Our brain is composed of both gray and white matter. White matter is responsible for communication and linking the various brain regions. The gray matter is accountable for solving problems and making decisions. When we are under chronic stress, we create less gray matter, which hinders our decision-making abilities. The excessive production of white matter can alter the physical structure of the brain.
  • Brain Cell Death. According to recent studies, chronic stress increases the death of newly generated neurons in the hippocampus due to the increase in cortisol.

Given the physical and emotional toll that stress can have on our bodies and minds, it’s critical to understand how to reset—especially on those extra-stressful days. It just requires some good coping mechanisms as well as a willingness to change your thought patterns.

Dos and Don’ts for a Healthy Brain Reset

Remember what I said about fight or flight? Resist the urge to self-medicate – that’s only enforcing that response to suppress the emotion or avoid feeling it. It’s tempting to turn to alcohol, overindulging in foods, or other substances to manage stress. You might feel a little bit better in the short term, but the long-term effects of using substances to cover up your emotions can be significant. They also tend to damage your relationships with other people.

So, if we can’t resist or run away from stress, and it’s an unavoidable part of life, what CAN we do?

Do Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a simple but powerful practice that helps us focus on the present moment and release scattered thoughts. This skill reduces stress because you are in control of your emotions, not their influence over yourself; it also allows for practicing calmness during stressful moments which has scientifically proven to be beneficial when fighting off illness or maintaining good health.

Do Find healthy ways to cope. More than 80% of disease is stress-related, according to research. Massage has been shown to be useful in reducing stress hormones by lowering cortisol levels in the body and in raising neurotransmitter levels in the body. Read more: Enhance Total Body Health with Work It Out Counseling

Do Practice Gratitude. Taking a few minutes to reflect on the day’s events and focus on the good things is a great way to reset your brain and relieve the damaging effects of stress. Keep a journal to look back on the positives during a challenging day. And don’t forget that you are PRACTICING, you don’t have to be perfect.

Do try BrainTap. BrainTap is a powerful tool that helps balance your brainwaves and increase neuroplasticity. This is a tool we have recently brought to Work It Out Counseling to help our clients. The algorithms of the program produce brainwave entrainment, which gives you full-spectrum brainwave activity and resets your brain to release stress and allow you to move through the remainder of your day. You’ll also form new neural connections for a flexible and resilient brain resistant to the damaging effects of chronic stress.

Stress often comes from how we perceive events in our lives. Take a minute and put things in perspective. Try one suggestion above at a time and try to incorporate it into your daily routine. It may seem difficult at first but focusing on solutions can be even more challenging when we’re stressed. If you take small steps toward the bigger goal of mind and body wellness, you’ll find yourself thriving and your stress melting away. 

Reach out today to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to find out how we can best support you.

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