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5 WAYS TO BOOST STRESS RESILIENCE

In today’s world, we’re faced with all kinds of psychological stress daily—there’s no escaping it. Unfortunately, too much stress is bad for your brain and body.

Keep your stress levels low and support the health of your brain with these 5 stress-busting techniques:

1. GATHER INFORMATION

What you do not know has power over you, whereas knowledge brings you choices and control. Fear of the unknown can increase your stress and anxiety. When you have questions, ask them and find answers. Getting more information about your challenges will bring you closer to your goals and help you manage the confusing and stressful situations that life brings your way. When it comes to personal relationships, gathering more information and avoiding assumptions is critical. If you are confused about a loved one’s behavior or believe that they are upset with you, pick a calm moment and gently ask for clarification. Without questioning your thoughts, assumptions can take over and little issues can turn into BIG issues that ruin your relationships.

 

2. DEVELOP A SENSE OF PERSONAL CONTROL

Taking personal responsibility for what happens in your life and looking for creative ways to solve your problems will stop you from feeling like a victim and will instantly give you more control. This practice can be uncomfortable at first, but taking personal responsibility will help you feel a greater sense of freedom in the long run.

 

3. KEEP YOUR PLEASURE CENTERS HEALTHY

Deep inside your brain, your pleasure centers respond to several neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine. When dopamine is low, depression and low motivation are much more likely—it can be harder to find your sense of joy and lift yourself out of a funk. Naturally boost dopamine by engaging in meaningful and pleasurable activities on a regular basis. Do work that you love, get lots of exercise and take time to have fun with your loved ones. It is equally important to avoid wearing out your pleasure centers through substance abuse or too many repetitive behaviors, such as gambling, video games, and compulsive eating or shopping.

 

4. CLEAR UP PAST TRAUMAS

To be resilient, it is essential to clean out the closet in your head of past or current traumas so they no longer control your future. If you experience reoccurring stress from traumatic memories, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) combined with a psychotherapeutic treatment technique called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) may help. The focus of EMDR is to resolve or eliminate emotional distress by shifting how a memory is triggered in the brain. EMDR can be particularly helpful for people with a history of abuse or those with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).

 

5. BUILD A COMMUNITY

If you have ever felt euphoric after getting together and bonding with a group of friends, you have experienced the brain-boosting power of social connection! Spending time in a positive community of like-minded people is a wonderful way to boost your bliss hormones, such as oxytocin. In fact, numerous studies have indicated that those who feel close, connected, loved and supported have a lower incidence of depression, anxiety, heart disease, infections, and cancer. Conversely, unhealthy habits can also be contagious, so bring awareness to the kind of company you keep and focus your energy on people who are positive and engage in healthy habits.

- Dr. Daniel Amen, Amen Clinic, Atlanta GA

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