Stress management isn’t just about protecting your mental health. It’s important for protecting your brain. Research shows that stress can harm the brain. Along with decreasing your resilience, stress can increase your risk of cognitive problems. Luckily, you can learn to cope with stress with a few simple techniques.
Stress is a common problem for high achievers. You tend to push yourself without worrying about the health implications. This increases the risk of fatigue, exhaustion, and poor decision-making. Based on the latest research, you may also be creating long-term damage to your brain.
According to Dr. Kerry Ressler of Harvard Medical School, existing studies clearly show that stress negatively affects brain functions. Ressler explains that the brain is comprised of multiple parts that perform different tasks. When one area of the brain is engaged, other parts of the brain have less energy.
For example, when you experience fear or anxiety, the part of your brain responsible for survival instincts takes over. This leaves less energy for high-level cognitive thinking, such as problem-solving. When you’re stressed, you struggle to think clearly.
Continuously activating certain areas of the brain can have lasting effects. You strengthen the areas of the brain that experience fear and anxiety while suppressing other parts of the brain. Over time, you may experience reduced cognitive function.
Ressler also points out that not all stress is created equal. Unpredictable stress has more of a severe impact on your brain. For example, scientists can create stress in animals using electric shocks. Random shocks cause more stress in animals compared to controlled, predictable shocks. Getting proper rest and staying organised are a couple of the suggestions Ressler provides. She also recommends establishing more control, which is an area where neuro-linguistic programming can help.
Avoiding long-term brain changes requires you to learn how to cope with stress. This is an area where positive psychology can help. For example, high-achieving professionals frequently use NLP techniques for stress management. Many people experience stress due to rumination. You ruminate on negative thoughts, giving them more weight. NLP techniques such as reframing, association, and discovering positive intent can combat negative thinking. Reframing forces you to reframe negative thoughts and behaviours in a positive light.
Meditation is also a useful tool for reducing stress and boosting your mental stamina. Mindfulness and NLP relaxation audiobooks can slow the mind to help you relax. Another helpful practice is the use of NLP anchors. Anchors help you recall positive thoughts or memories to replace negative ones. They make it easier to deal with stressful situations as they arise.
In the end, stress can have damaging effects on your brain. Taking the right steps now can protect your brain and make you more resilient. If you want to learn more about anchoring and other NLP techniques, I’d love to help. Browse my one-to-one coaching services and online courses at https://thinklearnsucceed.com.au