By: Traci Miller, Senior Director of Nutrition and Wellness
The #MoveYourMind interactive cognitive health series at Morrison Living discusses the six pillars of brain health. Nutrition, sleep, exercise, social connection, challenging the brain and stress management are all integral to our well-being. When we experience continued stress:
• Cortisol, which is increased with stress, can damage and kill cells in the hippocampus over extended periods.
• Synaptic connections between neurons in the brain can be lost—causing the brain to shrink
• The prefrontal cortex is particularly affected by the lost synaptic connections- thus interfering with regulation of behaviors such as concentration, decision making, judgement and social interactions.
• The production of neurons can be stopped. Learning, memory and emotion can be affected due to these adverse effects in the brain’s hippocampus region.
So, what can you do to reduce stress and anxiety? There are four A’s to stress management that help you change the situation and/or your reaction. Avoid, alter, adapt or accept the stressor.
Avoid: Limit the time you spend with people or in places that increase stress or anxiety.
Alter: Alter the environment by changing scenery or turn off the negative news on your tv or device.
Adapt: Change your perspective. Practice gratitude for what is going well in your daily life. Adapt a mantra. Create a saying such as, “I can handle this,” and mentally repeat it in tough situations
Accept: Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is an example of avoidable stress. Forgive yourself and others- spend your energy on yourself and productive habits.
Meditation, laughter, exercise and many other activities can all contribute to reducing anxiety and managing stress. Everyone is different on what will work, as well as within the approach to every situation. The key is to remember that stress and anxiety cause havoc on your mental as well as physical health. Overall well-being and cognitive health are one in the same. Please take care of your well-being so that you can continue to take care of others. Move more, sit less! #MoveYourMind