By: Camaran Azumara
Stress is something every American at some point has gone through in there life. The question that will be answered in this article is, “What actually happens in our brain that causes stress? & What can we do to prevent stress?”
When we go through stress in our lives what is actually happening is our brain is having an increase in dopamine-related chemicals. Dopamine in general is the pleasure chemical in the brain that makes us feel good after achieving a goal. Once this chemical is released in a stress situation the calming power of the chemical GABA is decreased. After a while, the extra energy creates a different kind of anxiety that gives way to a loss of dopamine energy and mental quickness. When this happens you might also find that you can’t “keep it together,” and you start acting emotionally immature. Now you’ve created a vicious stress loop, rewiring your brain and negatively impacting neurogenesis.
Also, dopamine regions associated with executive function–shrivel, while the GABA sectors linked to habit formation expand. When you are chronically stressed you no longer produce more dopamine; in fact, you produce less. Because of this you cognitively condition yourself to “go through the motions” of life, repeatedly doing the same tasks over and over instead of trying something new. In other words, you’ve created a neuronal pathway that stunted your creativity and your mental energy.
When the brain is too heavily focused on staying on task, it loses its ability to grow and stretch to allow for new memories that come from new learning and experiences. Whenever you have “too much on your mind.” the stress you may be feeling is your brain chemicals fighting for the chance to grow.
I went through a phase of tremendous stress in my life, and when it was over, I realized I had let my GABA levels go too far down. I was feeling anxious and irratable and had lost my focus and intensity.
GABA orchestrates the infrastructure of the brain’s stability. When your brain is not producing enough GABA, your electricity is generated in bursts.
As soon as the brain loses its balance, its stability is lost.
The result can be:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory Problems
- Inability to think clearly
- Poor verbal memory
DON’T ALLOW STRESS TO GET YOU DOWN
Laugh: Studies show that laughing can reverse serious disease, and it certainly reduces stress. Get your self to smile and chuckle, and you can basically reduce the burnout of everyday life.
Get out in the sun: Getting a few minutes of exposure to natural light is crucial because vitamin D, which we manufacture from the sun, helps to improve your mood. When your brain is out of sync, vitamin D is like a natural steroid. It raises the adrenaline levels in your brain.
Clean up: Sitting amongst clutter all day can weigh you down. Everyone at times feels overwhelmed. And even if life is very bust, we can artificially convince ourselves that it’s not so cluttered by cleaning up. And if you can remember where everything goes, you’re in good shape.
Reminisce: Open a photo album and flip through some cherished moments. You can recapture both the memory and the emotion of happiness and the sentimentality and feeling by reliving old memories. Plus, you’ll see just how good your memory really is when your are in a more relaxed setting.
Eric R. Braverman, Younger Brain, Sharper Mind
brainchemist, October 12, 2015