Understanding that having to deal with stress is inevitable and that too much stress is really bad for your brain and health, it is critical to know how to deal with stress.
Use the following S-T-R-E-S-S acronym that will help you manage the stress in your life. Each of these points and tools has been demonstrated through research to produce a beneficial reduction in stress.
S – Social Connection
By building and maintaining good, healthy, helpful relationships, you can feel understood and cared for. When you care for and attend to others, it allows you to get outside of yourself and you often find your perceptions are transformed. This leads to discovering new ideas about how to solve your own problems. Furthermore, when you care for others and feel cared for, your brain releases oxytocin, the “bonding” hormone, which can counteract many of the negative affects of stress.
Also, never underestimate the power of being around the right people! The health habits of the people you spend time with have a dramatic impact on your own health and habits. So surround yourself with people who are happy, upbeat, and kind.
T – Therapy/Meditation
At the heart of many types of therapy is learning about ANTs – which stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts—the cynical, gloomy and complaining thoughts that come into your mind automatically. Think of these negative thoughts like ANTs at a picnic that infest your mind and spirit and ruin your day. Learning how to kill the ANTs and develop an internal ANTeater is incredibly effective at reducing the stress and anxiety in your life.
Meditation is a wonderful way to soothe your mind and help you create a state of deep relaxation. Interestingly enough, meditating actually stimulates the brain; increasing blood flow to the areas responsible for attention and forethought, while calming down the areas that perceive pain. And you can receive the positive benefits of meditating in just minutes per day.
R – Relaxation Techniques
By using relaxation techniques, you will gain better control over the stress and anxiety that is ruining your health and happiness.
Deep breathing is one such relaxation technique and a very effective method for overcoming stress; one that can be done anywhere, anytime! When you take shallow breaths, it reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your brain cells, reducing overall brain function. As you inhale, let your belly expand. When you exhale, pull your belly in to push the air out of your lungs. This allows you to expel more air, which in turn, encourages you to inhale more deeply.
E – Exercise
Exercise will help you manage stress by immediately lowering stress hormones and helping you become more resistant to stress over time. Raising your heart rate through exercise also makes you better handle stress because it raises beta-endorphins, the brain’s own natural morphine!
S – Sleep
Sleep deprivation is hazardous to your health! Skimping on sleep can affect your health in more ways than you might imagine and definitely makes you more susceptible to stress. Be sure that your sleep hygiene is sound by turning off electronics at least one hour before bedtime, avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol later in the day, avoid naps, keep your bedroom dark and cool, and avoid exercising vigorously late in the evening.
S – Supplement
Natural relaxation substances can be incredibly effective in reducing stress. Drink some spearmint or chamomile teas. Put dried lavender in a vase near your bed. Use calming essential oil aromas such as clary sage, bergamot, or ylang ylang. Try BrainMD Health’s very own Everyday Stress Relief, which includes well-studied herbs and nutrients to support your body’s response to stress on multiple levels.
“This is what I take when I’m stressed,” says Dr. Amen. “And it works.”
You have a choice about how you respond to the stress in your life!
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