In the first part of this post “5 ways stress and pressure can damage your brain” I outlined some of the damaging effects on your brain of too much cortisol. The body generates too much cortisol in response to sustained stress and pressure, which is why anything you can do to self regulate this process helps maintain your physical and mental health.
Here are five simple ways to help in reducing stress and the harmful effects of stress and pressure on your brain:
It doesn’t have to be overly strenuous but regular walking, swimming or cycling are excellent because they boost the levels of BDNF. Brain derived neurotrophic factor “BDNF” are healthy brain cells which stimulate the growth of new ones, much in the same way as the fertilizer you put on the garden. Other exercises that help your mind as well as your body and brain include yoga, pilates and tai chi.
2. Adapt your diet
Eating a diet higher in antioxidant rich foods like fruit, vegetables and dark chocolate (yay !!) can help stop the damage created by the free radicals. These ‘free radicals’ are unattached oxygen molecules that attack brain cells by puncturing their walls causing them to rupture and die. Drinking green tea instead of coffee or tea to avoid caffeine and removing alcohol and tobacco from your diet is also hugely beneficial in the battle against the free radicals.
3. Sleep better and for longer
Sleep is amazingly restorative for the brain, making it sharper and more able to access memories and information. This is because sleep helps to replay and reinforce memory episodes in the hippocampus part of the brain without the distraction and dysfunction of the brain being awake and actively on call for processing.
4. Learn to mediate
Meditating regularly, ideally for 30 minutes a day, is both simple and effective as a technique to reduce stress and enhance relaxation but it also has benefits for your brain. It is a proven way to keep your brain-and body – young by keeping telomeres (anti-aging DNA segments) long.
5. Use herbal remedies
Using adaptogenic herbal remedies such as ginseng and artic root will increase the body and brain’s resilience to stress by promoting the balance between feeling calm and energetic.
The effects of chronic stress through cortisol are incredibly damaging to both the body and the brain but adopting some or all of the above will help reduce the wear and tear.