Most of us face an incredible amount of pressure each day. The deadlines, demanding schedules, and other frustrations that we deal with can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health. The impact of stress on our brain, however, is particularly significant.
Strain and tension lead to the rise of cortisol, adrenaline and other hormones in the body, which can shorten one’s attention span, lead to impaired memory, alter our mood and even interfere with our ability to sleep. The following tips will help you to be able to better cope with the effects of stress and keep your brain healthy!
Use it or Lose it
One of the best ways to preserve your brain function is to use it! When our brains are actively engaged in learning something new, it takes the focus of our attention away from what is causing us to feel stressed out. So, keep your mind actively engaged in something new, and meaningful, to help you beat the effects of stress on the mind. Sign up for a class in a new language, join a book club, or volunteer for a worthy cause to help keep your mind active and increase your resiliency to stress.
Work it Out
Activities that really get our hearts to pumping and increase the circulation of our oxygen rich blood to our brains can also help us beat the effects of stress. Look for ways to increase your physical activity level each day to improve both your cardiovascular health and the health of your brain. Take a short, but brisk, 15 to 20 minute walk during your lunch break, take up dancing, or even consider riding a bicycle to work are all easy ways to increase your activity level each day.
Fill Up on the Right Fuel
If we want our bodies, including our brain, to be able to perform at their peak level, it’s important that we provide them with the right fuel. Look for ways to increase your overall health to make certain that your brain has the right stuff to operate at a high level.
Skip foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt and eat a balanced diet that includes more nutritious foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean, heart healthy proteins such as baked, steamed or poached fish to provide your brain with the fuel that it needs to beat the effects of stress. Other habits that are good fuel for your brain include getting a good night’s rest on a daily basis and getting regular checkups with your doctor to monitor the condition of your overall health and well-being.
Take Breaks and Learn to Focus
Most of us have so much on our daily plate that we feel constantly pulled in a dozen different directions. It’s tempting to try to multi-task in an attempt to try to get more done, but, some research now suggests that being distracted as we work on a task increases our stress and frustration and actually makes a less productive. If you find that you really aren’t getting a lot done during your day, consider setting aside small blocks of time for each of your tasks and truly focus on one task at a time before you move on to your next assignment. Don’t forget to take frequent breaks throughout your day to help relieve some of the pressure and help your mind to be more alert and active.
Less is More so Lighten Your Load
According to an article published earlier this year at ABC News, research conducted at the University of Melbourne indicates that working more hours can actually increases our stress levels and decreases our productivity levels. This is especially true for workers over the age of 40. So, you can decrease your level of stress, and increase your effectiveness by looking for ways to work smarter rather than harder and longer.
Consider decreasing the hours that you work each week, and look for ways to get others on board with helping you complete your tasks. Look for ways to increase camaraderie and trust as well as cooperation and collaboration in your office. By working together and helping one another out, it’s likely that you and your team will accomplish more, and have a more enjoyable and less stressful time accomplishing the work.
It’s impossible to avoid all stress in our daily life, and, some studies indicate that small doses of stress can actually increase our brain’s ability to process information and complete tasks. Taking steps to reduce the amount of stress that you deal with on a daily basis, and increase your brain’s endurance and resilience to pressure will help reduce the negative effects of stress on your brain and improve your sense of well-being.