Quick And Easy Ways To Optimize Your Brain Health By Decreasing Your Stress
Idea #1: Chronic Stress Increases Cortisol Levels Affecting Your Brain In Many Ways
The #1 thing you need to understand with this is this: chronic stress is the constant stress we experience on a daily basis. It affects every part of our body including our brain. Stress accounts for 90% of all doctor visits each year. 90% is huge and says something about the seriousness of constant stress in our daily lives.
What’s most important about this idea is that high levels of cortisol, our main stress hormone, can take a toll on the brain by reducing the size of the brain, killing brain cells and disrupting memory by shrinking the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for memory, decision making and learning. Cortisol also halts the production of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), our new brain cell maker. Cortisol is the main hormone that kicks us into flight or fight. For example, say you’re out hiking and come across a Moose in close proximity to you that decides to charge you. Cortisol is responsible for helping your body be able to stay and fight the Moose or to high tail it out of there and get to safety. This is a normal response. Once the Moose encounter, or any other stressful event is over, your body is able to kick back out of flight or fight mode. When the body is not in flight or fight, it is able to repair, rejuvenate, grow, digest and so many more functions absolutely necessary for optimal health. Your body was only designed to tolerate the “flight or fight” mode in short doses. However, with the chronic levels of stress today’s society deals with, our bodies rarely are kicking back out of this mode leaving us in a constant, heightened state of high cortisol levels.
This is critical to your success because if you don’t realize the importance of chilling out or reducing cortisol levels in the body, you are setting yourself up for a decline not only in your brain but in the overall health of your body.
Idea #2: There Are Many Functions Of The Brain That Are Negatively Impacted By Chronic Stress
This idea deals with the fact that chronic stress takes a toll on our brain. People who experience symptoms such as anxiousness, depression, fear, short term memory issues, emotional instability, lack of the ability to concentrate and learn new information, feeling confused may be feeling the negative impact chronic levels of stress are having on their brains. This chronic stress even increases your risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
What’s important for every student, athlete, mom, business professional, and senior to understand about this idea is that if you or anyone you know is already experiencing any of these symptoms and have chronic levels of stress in your life, then you’re already heading down the path that leads to decreased brain health and function. Your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s has already increased.
This is very important for everyone because while you may not be able to ever live a stress-free life in today’s world, you do have the power to manage your stress levels and combat the negative impact it is having on not only your brain’s health but your entire body’s health as well. It is imperative for you to take charge of the stress in your life and choose how to exhaust the fires its creating in your body. The solution is not going to be a one-time fix. This is a lifestyle change that needs to happen and remain a constant in your daily regimen to ensure overall health and well-being and to help prevent brain disorders and disease, as well as, numerous other diseases and conditions of the body.
Idea #3: Implement Any And All Of The Following To Reduce The Negative Impact Stress Is Having On Your Brain And Body
The bottom line for you with this is that if you implement any of these key stress-reducing tips on a regular basis, you’ll improve your overall brain and body health.
Truth: by reducing the negative impact chronic stress is having on your brain and body, you’re improving the quality of your life.
This is critical to your success because you are helping to ensure that you are not on the fast track towards dementia and Alzheimer’s or any other disease American’s are “expected” to suffer with as they age. You are empowering yourself to be the healthiest version of you yet. You’re defying the odds of simply traveling the downward spiral of life all American’s are expected to be on. You don’t have to buy into what “aging” looks like in America even if you have a genetic predisposition or “it runs in your family”. You’re taking action now to reduce stress on your family down the road. It’s your choice what the rest of your life looks like, but you have to make that choice every day!
Now the thing for you to do is implement at least one of the following steps to reduce the negative impact stress is having on your brain and body:
- Healthy Eating – load up on your daily intake of foods that help fight stress and keep the free radicals down in your body. These include all of your vegetables and fruit. Eat as much as you want of vegetables, especially those that grow above the ground. Keep your fruit intake to one serving per day. Fruits you can eat on a regular basis should include tomatoes (if no nightshade sensitivities), avocados, squash, lemons and limes. All other fruits should be consumed only a couple times per week. Familiarize yourself with what an actual serving size of each fruit is and make sure you do not eat more than that amount.
- Exercise Daily – exercise increases the levels of brain-boosting BDNF. Strenuous levels of exercise is NOT required either. Just get your body moving on a regular basis. Pick activities you love to do to help ensure the consistency (i.e. dance, yoga, walking, swimming, etc).
- Daily Meditation – Not only does meditation reduce stress, it is a proven way to help keep your brain young. Stress is mostly a result of your thoughts, not the actual events. Thoughts are those pre-programmed negative reactions and cognitive distortions about the events that happen in life. Meditation is a wonderful way of helping you learn how to master your thoughts.
- Emotional Freedom Technique – EFT is a process that has been proven to help the mind bring resolution to issues that it may otherwise be hung up on. Imagine a “to be done” file and a “completed tasks” file. In order for your brain to fully process an event, it has to be moved from the “to be done” file over to the “completed tasks” file. Science has proven “glitches” in this communication process that can result from numerous variables like lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc. If an event is “stuck” in the “to be done” file, the brain has to continually work on completing this task. It gets stuck in a vicious loop. Here’s an example of how this can show up in life. Say two people are in the same car crash. One of them seems to move on from the event without any issues while the other is suffering from nightmares, anxiety around being in a car and overall increased levels of stress and struggle related to the car accident. Ever wonder why this happens? This “glitch” between the two files in the brain could be the reason. If the second person’s brain, for whatever reason, is not fully processing the event and moving it to the “completed tasks” file, it is going to continue focusing on it. This action decreases overall brain performance and can lead to dysfunction of the brain as well. Think about your PC. Ever open up the task manager section and see numerous programs that are running? You don’t see them on your desktop but they’re running in the background slowing down the computer’s performance. These events that are not being fully processed are just like those programs running in the background. EFT is a VERY easy way to clear up the glitch between the two files, allowing your brain to fully process the event, which allows for more optimal levels of brain performance and reductions in underlying stress.
- Sleep – QUALITY sleep is superior for reducing the chronic stress in your life. There are so many critical functions that happen while you sleep and at specific times throughout the night. If you are not getting quality levels of sleep, then you’re not allowing your body to fully repair and recharge from the day’s events. During sleep, the brain consolidates memories, repairs itself and grows new brain cells. Make sure you are getting 7-8 hours a night.
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