Mind/Body

Why Too Much Stress is Enemy #1 to Your Brain Performance

 Why Too Much #Stress is Enemy Number 1 to Your #Brain #Performance

Unhealthy levels of stress are now considered the number one disease throughout the world. Too much stress can cause shocking amounts of damage to your mind and body. Too little stress can cause tremendous emotional strain. So, moderation of stress is pivotal to our wellbeing.

Excessive stress is a defining struggle in our modern society. We've grown up in a culture where stress levels have increased continually over the past 50-75 years. Given vast improvements to our standards of living, this may seem puzzling. Why do we struggle so much with stress? The reason is because, in a way, our minds are getting programmed for stress.

 Why Too Much #Stress is Enemy #1 to Your #Brain #Performance

How Your Brain Gets Programmed for Stress

Your consciousness is tied to the frontal lobes of your brain. It is where your conscious decision-making process takes place. It is where you solve problems.

When the human brain does something new, it becomes excited and focused. Your consciousness gets engaged. But a vast amount of your activity has very little to do with any of this. Instead, much of what you do is habitual and automatic - like a robot.

The more you do anything, the more it becomes habitual. As this happens, the behavior patterns slip back into deeper parts of your brain. You just act without thinking about, or even being aware of, what you are doing.

It is in this deep, unconscious part of the brain where cultural influences can program stress into our psyches.

We live in a society with more stimulation, activities, and pressures than ever before. There is so much fear out there. We are now more connected to the news of the world, so we see far more trauma.  This can fuel our imagination in the most stressful ways. The problem is that older parts of our brain respond to negative thoughts from our imagination as if they are real threats to our survival. We get habituated to these passive stressors.

To cope, we become desensitized. We get used to exposure to trauma. Regardless, unconscious forms of stress still create fear inside your brain, and stress neurochemicals still get released into your brain. 

  Healthy brain vs. chronically stressed brain

Healthy brain vs. chronically stressed brain

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON STRESS

The release of stress chemicals is like pouring acid on your entire brain. It destroys your neurons and glial cells. Over 3000 peer-reviewed studies show that stress is the leading cause for work burnout, divorce, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, and death. 

Ruminating on too many negative feelings is damaging to the parts of your brain that are designed to find solutions to the problems you are facing. So, to maintain an optimally performing brain, it is crucial to learn how to turn down the activity in the pessimist side of your brain, and to turn up the activity in the optimist side.

 Why Too Much #Stress is Enemy #1 to Your #Brain #Performance

How Mindfulness Can Help

Fortunately, when stress damages your brain, you can practice inner-exercises to give your brain a chance to recuperate. 

Check out these articles on the most effective, research-backed methods to reduce stress:

By mindfully relaxing, we have the opportunity to escape becoming deeply wired for stress. By focusing on problem-solving, our values and our goals; we engineer our minds to accomplish remarkable things.

 Why Too Much #Stress is Enemy #1 to Your #Brain #Performance

The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential.

Yawning is The Fastest Way to Hack Mental Stress and Focus

  Yawning is The Fastest Way to Hack Mental #Stress and #Focus

The written content of the post was authored by best-selling author and neuroscience expert, Mark Robert Waldman. It is posted with his permission.


Olympic athletes yawn before they race. Musicians and speakers yawn before they go on stage. Snipers get trained to yawn before they pull the trigger. Pack animals yawn together to establish communal empathy. This is because yawning is the ultimate stress and focus hack.

Here are 10 reasons to yawn frequently:


1. Stimulates alertness and concentration
2. Optimizes brain activity and metabolism
3. Improves cognitive function
4. Increases memory recall
5. Enhances consciousness and introspection
6. Lowers stress
7. Relaxes your upper body
8. Fine-tunes your sense of time
9. Increases empathy and social awareness
10. Enhances pleasure and sensuality

Yawning clears away the fogginess of sleep and increases cerebral blood flow. After yawning, you quickly benefit with enhanced mental efficiency and a heightened state of cognitive awareness. In fact, yawning appears to be the fastest way to lower mental stress and anxiety. 

Many neurochemicals get released during the yawning experience that are essential for motivation, memory recall, and voluntary decision-making. In fact, it’s hard to find another activity that positively impacts so many brain functions. So, If you want to maintain an optimally healthy brain, make it a habit to yawn whenever you want to relax or enhance your ability to concentrate on a task.

It has a similar effect on a person as having a cup of coffee. It helps your brain shift between the highly focused demands of decision-making and restful daydreaming states that give you access to creative problem-solving. It even regulates the time clocks in your brain, helping you to sleep better at night. Yawning helps you to wake up and stay alert during a stressful work day.

yawning-animal

Yawning also appears to be a primitive form of empathy and is found in many mammals. There is a connection between frequent yawning and increased emotional empathy. That’s why we recommend that yawning a few times before entering a stressful business meeting or discussing a sensitive issue.

We recommend you yawn as many times a day as possible. When you wake up? Yawn. When you're confronting a difficult problem at work? Yawn. Whenever you feel anger, anxiety or stress? Yawn. 


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Yawn before giving an important talk, yawn before you take a test, and yawn whenever you feel bored. Do it mindfully, paying close attention to how it affects your mood and awareness.

Conscious yawning takes a little discipline to get past our social conditioning that it is rude. Another barrier is the “excuses” that people sometimes use: “I don’t feel like it,” “I’m not tired,” and a favorite, “I can’t.” Of course you can. All you need to do to trigger a deep yawn is to fake it four or five times. Try it right now, and you’ll see how each yawn feels more pleasant and relaxing.

yawn-experiment-vintage

A Mindful Yawning Experiment:

This exercise only takes two minutes, and works better if you are standing up. 

  1. Begin by taking a slow deep breath and then yawn. You can fake them at first, and if you make an “ahh” sound during exhalation you should be able to trigger a series of real yawns on your fourth or fifth try.
     
  2. As you continue to yawn, pay close attention to the sensations in your mouth, your throat, your chest and belly, and don’t be surprised if your eyes start watering. 
     
  3. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or disoriented, stop, sit down, and rest. Continue to yawn another ten or twelve times, and then pause, noticing the different body sensations you are having. Do you feel more relaxed and alert? 

If you feel tired, it probably means that you are exhausted from overwork. If you’ve been particularly stressed or anxious, you might find yourself yawning a great deal over the next half hour, or even throughout the day after you’ve tried this yawning experiment. It means that your brain needs more blood circulation to improve neural performance. Enjoy the yawns, knowing that it’s a special treat for your busy brain.



Check out Mark Waldman's free 6 Days to Enlightenment email series for information on how you can access enlightened states often and easily.

How to Hack Stress and Relax

 How to Hack Stress and Relax

The written content of the post was authored by best-selling author and neuroscience expert, Mark Robert Waldman. It is posted with his permission.


There are two kinds of relaxation: physical and mental. 

Yawning is the best strategy for eliminating mental tension because it slows down neural activity in the brain. As for the body, many people say “Take a deep breath in.” But that actually causes increased stress in the body and brain.

Others suggest stretching, but if you stretch the way most people do, you won’t even notice how tense your muscles are. Instead, for deep relaxation, you need to move and stretch different parts of your body in SUPER SLOW MOTION. Real slow.

Try this experiment: 

Slowly rotate your head and count how many seconds it takes to complete a single rotation. Most people will spend about 5 seconds, but that’s 20 times too fast. Instead, take a full 60 seconds to make one head rotation. You may notice all sorts of tiny aches you never felt before. It’s that awareness that allows the brain to trigger the physical relaxation response. Isn't that interesting? Physical relaxation depends on your awareness of the unconscious tensions we carry around all day.

Now try moving another part of your body super slow. For example: take 60 seconds to raise and lower one arm. Now notice how different your left and right arm feels. Now turn your body just to one side taking 30-60 seconds. See how much more your feel? 


Check out Mark Waldman's free 6 Days to Enlightenment email series for information on how you can access enlightened states often and easily.