I see so many people in my practice who experience stress on a daily basis. I used to be one of those people. We usually can’t control what we experience in life, but we can control how we respond. This means that rather than being victims to circumstances, we now become active participants, thereby directing the impact it has on us.
Stress has been shown to have significant impacts on health and wellbeing.
Stress can come from external factors e.g. health, finances, children worries, work pressures, etc. Internal stressors can have as much of an impact, if not more. Our thoughts, responses, feelings can cause a brief stress to become a significant, chronic stress.
Thoughts like “I’m not good enough; I was such an idiot; what if we don’t have enough money; I should never have said that; worrying about the health or future of ourselves or kids” can make us significantly stressed.
Evidence has shown that this has an impact on our brain and then reduces our effectiveness further for dealing with that stress.
Chronic stress – be it from external or internal factors, can have an effect on your health and wellbeing in many ways:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment (Mayo clinic, April 2016).
Some people live in a permanently aroused state of stress. The result of this is that high cortisol levels have a toxic effect on parts of the brain (hippocampus), which is the part of the brain used for learning, memories and stress control!!
It therefore results in us having a decreased ability to control stress.
Excess cortisol can cause your brain to shrink, especially the pre-frontal cortex – the part of your brain that regulates behaviours like concentration, decision-making, judgement and social interactions.
Whatever the actual form of the crisis, maladaptive attempts to cope with stress ultimately culminate in a breakdown somewhere.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Learning strategies to firstly recognise and secondly deal with stress better helps you see things from a different perspective and lets you respond differently. Learning how you respond and react to stressors, thoughts, then gives you a delay between the trigger and the response.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction says “There is more you can do for yourself than anyone else can”.
Mindfulness is mental training that develops self-awareness and helps self-regulate behaviour, keeps our brains healthy, improves effective decision-making capabilities, helps regulate our emotions and protects our brain from toxic stress.
Neuroscientists have shown that practicing mindfulness affects areas related to perception, body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking and sense of self.
Actively practicing various forms of mindfulness on a daily basis, literally helps shrink the amygdala (the fight-flight part of the brain, associated with anxiety, stress and fear) and grow the decision-making, memory and emotional regulatory part of our brain.
DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Register onto one of my Mind Body Soul: Practical Application for Reducing Stress and Increasing Fulfilment courses.
These courses were developed from a very heartfelt place – you will gain a deeper understanding of yourself and of me, as I share a lot of myself by giving practical examples of how to apply the strategies we work through.
If you think you may be nervous….chances are you will be. By 30 minutes into the first session that will be gone – I can assure you.
The course is a combination of Mindfulness, Acceptance Commitment Therapy and other psychodynamic models. It has been endorsed by STEVE FLOWERS MS, MFCC
Steve has completed training in MBSR with Jon Kabat-Zinn and is certified as an MBSR teacher from the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where he is also a supervisor in their MBSR teacher trainer program – Oasis.