Stress Management

Did you know?


The top 3 stressors in the U.S. are money, work, and the economy.


Fight Stress

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Your Brain and Stress

Researchers have long understood that stress-related illnesses can trigger changes in brain structure, including reducing the size of the hippocampus and altering our neural networks. A little stress is a good thing. It can drive performance and creativity, and it keeps us vigilant and aware in times of trouble. But overwhelming amounts of stress is harmful. It destroys homeostasis and throws our nervous system in turmoil. It may even kill brain cells.


At the University of Berkley, CA, a recent study found that chronic stress and elevated levels of cortisol can generate a greater overproduction of myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than normal.


According to the study findings, “the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol is believed to create a domino effect that hard-wires pathways between the hippocampus and amygdala in a way that might create a vicious cycle by creating a brain that becomes predisposed to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight.”  It also goes on to say, that while stress can "flip" a switch within your stem cells to promote cognitive function, it can also cause a dramatic decline in your overall brain health. Read more from this study. 


In fact, it is possible that chronic early-life stress may decrease the brain’s resilience later in life. In addition, long-term stress, anxiety, and other debilitating factors have been linked with an increased risk of serious cognitive issues. Some research suggests that chronic stress stimulates the growth of the proteins that can lead to negative changes in brain health.


How We’re Handling It (um, not very well)

According to the American Psychological Association, Americans aren’t exactly rolling with the punches. While 54% of Americans agreed that physical activity was very or extremely important, for example, just 27% of survey respondents were happy about their own level of exercise. Instead of managing their stress in healthy ways, Americans are indulging in unhealthy behaviors: Almost a third of adults say they skipped a meal because of stress in the past month. Two-fifths reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress. And more than 40% reported that they had lain awake at night, unable to sleep. Read more


Changing Direction

These findings, though troubling, are far from fixed. It is quite possible to “sculpt” one’s brain throughout one’s lifetime, and there are a number of effective lifestyle strategies that can reduce cortisol production to improve brain structure and connectivity. These include:




Exercises such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga are a great way to sweat out the stress, and they leave you rejuvenated and refreshed. Learn more.