The Stressed Brain

Stress is an essential mechanism for our body. It activates our instincts to either fight or flight when we are under threat. If the stress turns into ongoing state it can lead to anxiety and depression that doesn’t go away.

What makes depression different from anxiety, which can appear as cognitive, physiological and behavioral changes, is that depression focuses on the past and present, but not on the future.

Even though tolerable amount of stress can make us more alert it’s not healthy to have chronic stress.

Short term stress causes physiological responses such as increase in our blood glucose, heartbeat and blood pressure. Long-term stress can be a reason for a retention of sodium and water by the kidneys and higher levels in our blood glucose.

Stress can affect our brain. Even though tolerable amount of stress can make us more alert it’s not healthy to have chronic stress. This can lead to sleeping and eating disorders, decreased regulation of cortisol, lower attention and narrower perception.

Additionally, chronic stress can cause damage in the short-term memory, learning skills and there can even be cellular changes in the hippocampus that is associated with memory, part of the limbic system, emotion regulation and spatial control.

According to The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory the most stressful events are death of a close family member, imprisonment, marital separation and divorce. The most stressful is a death of a spouse with mean value of 100. Higher the points are the more chances there are to suffer some stress related health issues.

Besides keeping in touch with friends and family another essential trick is to learn to manage our time.

Reducing stress can start from simple things such as going to sleep before feeling exhausted, spending time with an enjoyable hobby and eating food with natural anxiolytics such as vitamins, minerals, Omega 3, selenium, magnesium and calcium.

Dairy products, seaweed and eggs are among foods that include natural lithium. Besides keeping in touch with friends and family another essential trick is to learn to manage our time. When starting a task it helps when we know our objectives, know when the task is done and by being able to ask help when needed.

Some can find additional benefit from aromatherapy in which natural oils like lemon, lavender, chamomile and mandarin are used to reduce stress. Exercising can release tension and natural endorphins.

Meditation can be another effective way to experience life in the present moment, work on posture and breathing and feel overall relaxation by focusing inside ourselves instead of the hectic life around us.

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